Ultimate guide to hiking Coachella’s hidden canyons

With all the chic midcentury galleries and groovy tiki bars populating Palm Springs’ downtown, you could easily spend a weekend hunting for Eames chairs and sipping retro cocktails. Browse and brunch all you want — no one will judge. But sooner or later, you’ll glance up at the furrowed hills that hug the city and feel an urge for something wilder.

The desert does that.

Tucked into an abutment of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountain ranges, the Coachella Valley offers a wealth of wildness. Beyond the manicured golf courses south of Palm Springs lie 35,000 acres of rugged desert, the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. More than 60 miles of trails ramble through four canyons, where bighorn sheep clatter across the hillsides and glistening waterfalls appear like a revelation.

To the south, the San Andreas Fault knifes through the Mecca Hills, exposing the earth’s skeleton. Footpaths lead through colorful canyons formed by the mighty forces of plate tectonics, water, wind and time. And on the Coachella Valley’s north side, seismic activity has forced underground water to the surface to create wetlands, marshes and ponds at the 17,000-acre Coachella Valley Preserve.

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