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Hiking to Southern California's oases

Hidden Palms, Coachella Valley Preserve
Hidden Palms, Coachella Valley Preserve
David Lockeretz

The Los Angeles area has many open spaces that are often described as urban oases. With a little bit more of a drive, however, you can reach an actual oasis. In the deserts south and east of L.A., nature has provided several watering holes that serve a diverse ecosystem and provide hikers with the shade of wild palms. While an oasis might be as obvious a destination for a hike as a summit or waterfall, these five trips are among So Cal's most popular - all well worth a visit.

Borrego Palm Canyon. This is the most popular of the many trails in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located in eastern San Diego County. The moderate hike to a natural palm oasis also features good mountain views and a strong likelihood of a bighorn sheep sighting.

Coachella Valley Preserve. Here, you get three for the price of one (actually none, considering that parking at this preserve is free; donations are appreciated.) There are many trails throughout this large park near Palm Springs and a popular 5-mile loop visits three different palm groves and oases, also providing excellent views of the surrounding mountains.

Fortynine Palms Oasis. This short but scenic hike in a quiet corner of Joshua Tree National Park visits a remote oasis. The trail also brings hikers close to a lot of Joshua Tree's trademark geology and provides panoramic views of the high desert.

Jane's Hoffbrau Oasis. Barely beyond the fringes of Palm Springs, this is an oasis both in the urban and literal sense. The sights and sounds of civilization soon fade as you descend to the oasis, located in the back of a quiet canyon.

Stone Pools. This hike in the Indian Canyons, also near Palm Springs, passes by a natural oasis before climbing to a plateau with wide-ranging views of the area.