The Coachella Valley Preserve is located 10 miles east of Palm Springs near 1000 Palms. It is a 17,000 acre site that is home to the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, which is found nowhere else in the world. It is also home of the spectacular Thousand Palm Oasis which is fed by water seeping out of the San Andreas Fault. There are also several other Palm Oases, including the Willis, Hidden Horseshoe, and Indian Palms. Located in the center is the Paul Wilhelm Grove that is also the location of the Preserve’s visitor’s center. The preserve has several hiking trails including the McCallum, Hidden Palms, Moon Country, Pushawalla Palms, and Willis Palms trails.
The McCallum Trail to the McCallum Grove is a very nice hike on a well maintained trail. The McCallum Trail has numbered stops which describe the fan palms, San Andreas Fault, desert pupfish, and various geologic and ecologic features of the preserve. Taking the McCallum Trail from the Visitor Center is about a two-mile round-trip hike, and if you want you can also hike the Moon Canyon Trail which will bring your hike up to over four miles.
When you leave the visitor’s center you will pass through the lush vegetation of Thousand Palms Oasis. Most of the trail in the oasis is on a well maintained raised wooden path above a marshy bottom. There are several ponds in this part of the trail with desert pupfish and other wildlife. After leaving the oasis the trail winds through a sandy wash before reaching McCallum Grove. While the trail is not very strenuous, hiking in the sandy wash can be a litle harder.
At the McCallum Grove there is a large pond which is fed by underground springs which are a result of seismic activity along the San Andreas fault. This is a very beautiful lush area, and once again you will see pupfish and other wildlife in the area.
After leaving the McCallum Grove you can take the trail further west. It is slightly uphill, but not very strenious. You will come to an overlook that provides you with great views of the entire area. From there you can return to the visitor’s center, or continue to the Moon Canyon Trail if you prefer.