Resort pools aren’t the only way to cool down in Palm Springs. Tucked into the rugged mountains above the city, Tahquitz Falls offers an alternate way to chill. The gracefully plunging, granite-carving 60-foot flume in Tahquitz Canyon, long a place of spiritual lore for the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians, is reached via the fastidiously maintained Tahquitz Canyon Trail. This 2-mile loop weaves between copper-colored serrated cliffs and tanker truck-size boulders—evidence of the geologic upheaval that formed this dramatic landscape. The hike’s rather rapid 350-foot elevation gain rewards with wild flora like apricot globemallow, red-budding chuparosa and yellow-blooming brittlebush, as well as several Indian cultural sites. Small lizards skitter closely, performing pushups to encourage you along. Shortly after getting your heart pumping on the ascent, you’ll reach the base of Tahquitz Falls—fueled to max roar by Mount San Jacinto’s snowmelt. Kick off your shoes, wade in and enjoy a little soul—and sole—time.
BONUS: Energized by Tahquitz Falls? Consider a longer hike in nearby Indian Canyons, just a few miles farther south at the end of South Palm Canyon Drive. The 4-mile roundtrip Murray Canyon Trail snakes through a palm grove and reverses at the intimate, three-tiered Seven Sisters Waterfall. Your Tahquitz Canyon wristband takes a buck off the entry fee.
Palm Springs is about two hours east of LA. From I-10 east of Cabazon, exit Highway 111 and continue for approximately 11.5 miles through downtown Palm Springs (the road becomes N. Palm Canyon Dr.) At Mesquite Ave., turn right. Continue past Tahquitz Canyon visitor center/trail entrance (500 W. Mesquite Ave.) to the parking lot. Adults $12.50; children $6 (includes either self-guided or ranger-led interpretive hikes). Canyon hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through July 4th weekend; open Friday through Saturday only after that holiday until October 1. Last hiking admission is 3:30 p.m. No dogs.