Art Smith Trail

HARD 122 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
2,641 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.

3 months ago

Did it up to the second oasis today, 109 degrees. I had a 2 liter camel back which was just enough water for the three miles each way.

Still beautiful when most everything is dry. Much better 2 weeks after a rain in the spring...but then you don't get it all to yourself!

Saw a lot of mountain bike tire tracks, they must meet the trail at the top and use it as a down hill exit.

Saw several coyote scat piles on the trail, one still wet. Would have liked to have seen it, but no other sign.

5 months ago

Scenic and dramatic!

5 months ago

Not a bad hike. It’s a good workout. No shade, just be prepared..

5 months ago

This hike has some ascent at the beginning. We saw a mountain goat chowing down on a cactus. We didn’t go to the end but enjoy the sites.

5 months ago

Amazing views. You get to experience lots of variety. You go through three oasis. Not a difficult hike, only ascent is at the beginning of the hike. Difficulty is in the distance. If you plan to do the whole 21km one-way you have to start really early since it gets really hot.

5 months ago

Great trail. Nice scenery and views. Got to the 6.1 mile mark that indicated the end of the trail, but it seemed to go on at least a mile more to the horizon. Only reason for not getting 5 stars was that there were extremely irritating eye gnats for several hours of this hike.

6 months ago

Great trail, love it.

6 months ago

Very interesting hike.... lots of water for sure, start early in the morning since it’s hot in the summer... I’ll do it again!!

7 months 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.

8 months ago

A great trail for training to do C2C hike

8 months 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.

8 months ago

Great trail runner

10 months ago

Our favorite

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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

Monday, May 01, 2017

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.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fabulous views and flowers

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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.

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