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Hiking in Palm Springs: Murray Canyon and Seven Sisters waterfalls

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While hiking in the desert typically means sandy, dry trails, Murray Canyon is a treat with its water crossings and waterfalls.

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The hike starts at the Murray/Andreas Canyons parking area in the Palm Springs Indian Canyons (directions below). The trail starts just behind the sign for Murray Canyon, the Coffman Trail and the West Fork Trail (North). A sign here says the Seven Sisters is two miles. That sounded perfect.

The Murray Canyon parking lot is in a grove of palm trees, so it has lots of shade. However, the Murray Canyon Trail begins in the desert with no shade. The sandy trail starts downhill, then crosses the open desert for about a half mile to Murray Canyon.

There’s a trail split about 0.2 miles from the trailhead, but just follow the signs for Murray Canyon. At 0.6 miles, the trail drops into Murray Canyon and the creek that runs through it. There’s a nice shady area in the palm trees here. Cross the creek and begin hiking up canyon.

The trail winds in and out of the trees and over the creek more than a dozen times as you hike up to the waterfalls. There are more than a dozen creek crossings. Come during a rainy year and you’ll be rock hopping to keep your feet out of the water and mud. Come after a few dry months and you’ll likely find a dry stream bed. Every quarter mile or so, you’ll likely spot a trail sign pointing you the way up canyon.

As you hike, you’ll likely notice the flood damage from the summer of 2013. A wildfire in the mountains, followed by heavy rain, sent debris flowing through the canyon. The trail has been cleared, but many of the trees have a foot, sometimes 2-3 feet of debris wrapped around the trucks.

About 1.6 miles from the trailhead, the trail suddenly climbs about 50 feet next to a rock wall. You may hear a waterfall below – don’t get too close to the edge looking for it. It’s better to explore the area below the falls on the way out. For now, continue up the trail just another third of a mile (or so) to the waterfalls. You’ll know when you’ve arrived, the trail ends at the a series of waterfalls.

If you don’t mind getting your feet wet, take a step or two into the creek, so you can see the next waterfall up the canyon.

When you’re done taking photos and exploring the area, return the way you came. On the way back, about 0.4 miles from the Seven Sisters, you’ll come back to that one steep trail section. If you hear a waterfall, then it’s worth a short trip to find it. At the bottom of the climb, head for the creek, and work your way up the creek bed to the waterfall. Because of the vegetation, it may be difficult to see the waterfall, but it’s worth the extra minute or two of exploring to see the waterfall.

If you're looking for more good hikes, check out this list of 25+ hikes in the Palm Springs area.

Details: The hike to the Seven Sisters and back is 4 miles with about 500 feet of elevation gain with all the ups and downs.

Admission (in 2014): $9 adults, $7 for kids and seniors. http://www.indian-canyons.com/admission.html

Directions: Google 38520 S Palm Canyon Dr. for directions or from downtown Palm Springs take So. Palm Canyon Drive south. When the road bends east, continue south. Follow South Palm Canyon another 2.7 miles to the entrance to the canyons. Once you past through the entrance, follow the signs for Murray Canyon.

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