Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hiking Big Morongo Canyon, near Desert Hot Springs, CA

 The Sands RV & Golf Resort has a hiking club that hikes a different trail twice every week. The featured hike that we joined was Big Morongo Canyon. This canyon extends from the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in the Little San Bernardino Mountains traveling south along the eastern border of Joshua Tree National Park to the Cochella Valley. This canyon was used by the early nomadic Native American as a route with water, vegetation, game and easy grade that connected the low desert to the high desert. 

The hiking group
Our hiking group decided to do this hike from north to south, which made it mostly downhill. So we carpooled everyone to the top and left a car at the bottom in order to retrieve the cars when we all reached the end.

This is an easy hike with a well-established trail.  The total distance was 5 miles with a 1000 elevation drop and took the group two-half hours to complete. This included stopping a few times to grab a bite and to let everyone catch up. 

 The terrain of the canyon is not typical of most desert hikes in this area because there is water most the year which is enough to support a small palm oasis, larger desert trees and assorted wildlife including a herd of big horn sheep and lots of birds. This made the scenery more interesting and we were constantly on the lookout for that herd of big horns, but unfortunately they did not give us a photo op that day.

Red-tailed Hawk sharing the valley
Trees near Oasis

To get there from Desert Hot Springs, take Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway) northeast about 10 miles to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve which is one-half miles southeast of the town of Big Morongo Valley. 
Same hawk in flight

A side-note ~~ The Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is interesting if you don’t want to do this canyon hike. The preserve has several boardwalk type trails that take you through various habitats including marsh and stream areas. This is a great place to do desert bird watching.

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