Palm Springs’ highest summit, Murray Hill, is unfairly named. It’s not a hill: It’s a pyramid-shaped peak poking into the sky above the Coachella Valley. And it’s a demanding 2,200-foot hike to the top! Cool winter days are ideal for an ascent, though you’ll still want sunscreen because the cactus-and-rock terrain offers no relief from the unrelenting elements, even in winter. Start the 8-mile (round-trip) hike on Garstin Trail, which switchbacks quickly uphill in 1.2 miles, expanding your vista over Palm Springs’ golf courses, swimming pools, and mansions.
At a major trail fork, veer right to stay on Garstin and soon join Wildhorse Trail, which ascends steeply, then more moderately, for two miles to connect with Clara Burgess Trail, which winds up to Murray Hill’s summit. The pointy pinnacle offers a 360-degree view, with the Salton Sea shimmering in the south and snowcapped Mount San Jacinto framing the west. A few picnic tables provide for a scenic lunch. Viewtiful!
Trailhead: Drive south on South Palm Canyon Dr. to Bogert Trail. Turn left, drive 0.9 mile, and turn left on Barona Rd. Park in the cul-de-sac. Dogs allowed only on the lower portion of the trail.