Art Smith Trail

HARD 106 reviews

Art Smith Trail is a 12.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Palm Desert, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from September until May.

12.2 miles
2641 feet
Out & Back




nature trips

trail running




wild flowers


no dogs

From the Hike Palm Desert map obtained from the Palm Desert Visitor Center: Turn south from Hwy. 111 onto Hwy. 74. After approximately 4 miles turn right and park at the trail head across from the Santa Rosa San Jacinto National Monument Visitor Center on the left of the highway.

8 days ago

Quick elevation to start then a more reasonable climb with great views across the valley and then inner canyons towards the oases. Blooms are just starting to pop and should be very good next few weeks! Did 1 hour 15 minutes out (1,769) and then returned for total 2 hour hike. Look forward to returning for longer hike.

1 month ago

A great trail for training to do C2C hike

1 month ago

Really enjoyed the surprises around every corner on this hike. Nice changes in terrain, colorful cactus popping out of the dry land and miles of rocks piled upon each other. We looked for Big Horn the entire time and finally saw two once we finished, while driving up to lookout point! We started this hike too late to finish before dark so we'll definitely go back to do the whole thing.

1 month ago

Great trail runner

3 months ago

Our favorite

9 months ago

does anyone know if this trail leads to an oasis or water creek?

10 months ago

The trail is not that hard, just not much shade. It has spectacular views of the valley. At some points of the trail you can't see the trail ahead, you think its going to end but find it anorher turn. Make sure you bring plenty of water.

11 months ago

The trail is well-marked and parking is convenient to the trail head. There are a few nice shade spots to rest in, but much of the trail is full sun as is expected in the desert. Lots of water is a must, as well as sunscreen!

11 months ago

Nice trail. If you get past the first 3 miles it's pretty level the rest of the way. Some small ups and downs but not like the first 3 miles. This time of year was really nice. Cool in the morning and lots of flowers and trees blooming. Didn't see any Big Horns. It's a good workout and make sure you take lots of water. It applies to this hike more then some of the others. Wouldn't want to do this hike in summer. Trailhead has lots of parking and a short 2/10's of a mile walk to the start of the climb. There were a lot of cars parked at the National Monument but the trailhead parking is just past that on the right if your going west or up the hill.

11 months ago

Fabulous views and flowers

11 months ago

Great trail for day hiking with nice views once you get beyond the first mile or so. Several palm oases along the way. Good place to see Bighorn Sheep. If you hike in the fall (October through December) you can use the original trail a bit further in Dead Indian Canyon. It's a better start than the current trail.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Beautiful challenging
Hike! This time of year is great for the wild flowers but it's always a beautiful trail.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Toughest incline at the first 2.5 miles. Levels off. Have seen big horned sheep a couple of times (up close!). The best scenery of any trail. Have only gone as far as 3.9 miles and turned around.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What a beautiful hike!

We went 4.75km to the triple oasis and then back

Fabulous topography; foliage and views. Fewer hikers than those closer to Palm Desert.

Certainly want to bring water.

We can feel our legs tonight!!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Awesome hike. But yes it was a little rough for being my first time hiking this trail. We will definitely do it again. ❤

Friday, December 30, 2016

Trail head is located on the righthand side of Highway 74 assuming you made a right hand turn off California State Route 111. You will see many cars parked along the the shoulder of the road. There is a large stone monument stating "Art Smith Trailhead". Across the highway is the well maintained, informative, and interesting Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. Note the "Whose Scat Is That?" chart in the men's room. You may want to take a picture of it to have as a reference to refer to on the trail. The beginning of the trail is the steepest portion as you work your way up. There are many lucky locals on this portion of the trail who use it for a good workout. You will soon view below the Big Horn housing and golf development. It is fun to imagine what this area looked like in it's natural state a hundred years ago. The trail is well marked with excellent signage. Obviously, at the trail sign "Art Smith" "Hoppy", bear to the right. We were here back on March 15, 2016 and viewed many wild flowers. This time, in the middle of December there were no wildflowers but many interesting barrel cactus to view. Locals on the trail informed us that due to illegal camping at the first oasis a fire occurred. The effects can still be viewed. Fortunately, over time oases have a way of making comebacks from fires whether natural or man made. The first oasis is small. Note if one looks closely one can spot an old Indian grinding stone hole. It is always a spiritual thought to stop and think about the people who made this place home for hundreds of years. The second oasis, about 3/4 of a mile further up the trail, is larger and move impressive. Due to the steep rocky canyon you cannot go explore the bottom of the oasis, but instead you view the palms midway up their trunks from a rocky cliff. This is the place to stop, relax, and enjoy the sounds of the wind blowing through the fronds. Off in the distance to your right hand side if you are facing the oasis you see more Washington Palms about 100 yards away and at a higher elevation. Are they the third oasis or a continuation of the second oasis? We decided not to explore any further and slowly made our way back to the trailhead.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Awesome, beautiful trail!!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

I wish I had more time to explore. I went for 1/3 of the whole route. But still was a great work workout and amazing view. It was totally worth of every step!

Friday, November 25, 2016

I only did about 2 miles of this 12 mile trail on my first outing but I really enjoyed it. It is well marked and a good workout. The initial start is uphill for maybe 5+ minutes but then it levels out with intermittent small hills.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Great lovely views. Went 3 miles in saw 3 oasis

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Great views of the valley with decent climbs and vistas.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Awesome!! Hiked 6K out and jogged 6K back early Saturday a.m. Sunrise and great time with my son Max (11). On Monday did 5 and 5 with my wife Lori. My running partner, and then life partner!!! Loved both.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Beautiful views and vegetation, relatively challenging incline at the start but much easier as it progresses.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Love this trail but want others to know it is clearly posted: dogs are NOT allowed. Bringing a dog on a "no dog" trail can result in a ticket with fines up to $300. Apparently this rule is in place to help protect the bighorn sheep in the area. They don't want them to get used to the smell of canines/coyotes, which would be especially hazardous to baby sheep.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This Hike continues onto Dunn Road and ends up in Cathedral City for a Uber ride back to the trail head off of Hwy 74. It is about 14 miles all together.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Good workout! Awesome views did 6 miles out and turned back. By next time I'll probably try to continue to Murray canyon. Over all my favorite hike so far.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Solid dawn hike. Get there early for sunrise. Super accessible, well marked and well maintained.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

It was warm. Needed all our water, 10 liters for two people. Hiked from trail head on Hwy 74 to Dunn Road and out. Used Über to get back to our car. Pretty much an all day adventure.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Great views!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Fantastic. Hiked this many times---always great.

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