Horsethief Creek is a 5.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mountain Center, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length5.1 miElevation gain1,230 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashkid friendlyHikingRiverViewsRocky
Description
Waypoints (0)

There is no specific signage for Horsethief Creek Trail. From the parking lot, follow trail sign for Sawmill Trail and Cactus Spring Trail. At trail head sign-in box, go left on Cactus Spring Trail. Horsethief Creek trail is an out-and-back on the first part of the Cactus Spring trail which takes you to a lovely creek and cottonwood grove.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (159)
Photos (313)
Recordings (167)
Completed (277)
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Curt Leo
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Hiking
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Thi Markwell
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Hiking

quiet. beautiful. this specific trail just ends...I would stop at the water

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Anthony Jones
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HikingNo shade

I hiked this solo on 2/25. It was in the mid 40's when I started the trail and only got about 53 by the time I returned to the parking lot but it seemed alot hotter. Like others have said, lots of ups and downs in the canyon. While there were some pretty sections the view was somewhat monotonous after awhile. If you really enjoy desert scenery, and desert landscape with little else, then this trail is for you. There isn't any real payoff along the way, there's no summit, no incredible vistas, no obvious historical significance or relics (except the dolomite mine) and no real nice spot in the shade for a lunch stop. Horsethief Creek was flowing but barely. It's called Horsethief Creek but you are actually on the signed Cactus Springs Trail. You don't realize it initially that you are hiking down into a canyon till you have to come back up. In cooler months, especially in spring when the cacti are in bloom I bet you this trail is gorgeous but when I went it was mostly drab and gray. I don't think I would hike this trail if the predicted temperatures were over 75. What little breeze you could get would be blocked by the narrow canyon and I bet it feels like an oven by Memorial Day. Very few people out today but the trail does get narrow in spots, try and maintain your social distancing when possible. Don't get discouraged, it's actually not too bad of a hike, its just that there are better options nearby. I shot video of my hike on Youtube, Here's the link, just cut and paste the URL. https://youtu.be/bNnky_DC11w. I am also posting this review on the Cactus Spring page since that is actually what I took, the Cactus Spring Trail to Horsethief Creek.

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Ann Sinclair
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Hiking

Started out promising with great mountain views but the trail was mostly through forest and brush with not much scenery. Definitely bring poles as parts of the path (especially at the very end) are steep and there’s a lot of loose gravel and rocks.

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Melinda Goedeke
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David Lawson
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Rachel Roberts
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Running

Great trail. Went out midday Saturday and only saw about four groups. Lots of ups and downs but the watering hole at the end was worth it!

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Allison Cope
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Hiking

Great toddler had fun!

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Dirk Ellis
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Hiking

Perfect morning for a hike started at 0800 ended at 1200.

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Heidi S
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HikingNo shade

It’s a good workout! The trail is not busy at all in a Sunday. I got to the parking lot at 2pm and probably saw 6-7 small groups throughout the entire hike. As many reviewers said, the trail is labeled as Cactus Springs trail, not Horsethief Creek. It’s hard to tell where the trail ends. It can go on and on. I’m glad that I used AllTrails app which tells me the end of the trail.

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Steven Collens
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Hiking

Beautiful terrain and not too crowded. No snow on the trail today.

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Betsy Kalkwarf
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Hiking

This hike was beautiful. I rarely give a hike 5 stars and this one earned them. It was chilly, in the 40s, and the first clear day after rain. The mountains were snow covered and there were bits of snow along the edge of the trail at some places. Two creeks were flowing. I hiked a bit past the alltrails end to get to the top of that part and the view was well worth the strenuous incline. You could hear the traffic at times. I was the first one in the parking lot. I didn't see another hiker until after I turned around. Then I saw 6 groups. This hike is labeled Cactus Spring Trail, not the alltrails name.

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Melinda Goedeke
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Hiking
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Neal Ratti
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HikingGreat!
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michael larson
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Rachael Kimmerling
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Hiking

Went it late spring - hot but the oasis made for a nice cool down!

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Ryan Skinner
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Dini Schild
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Hiking

Just when you think you’re done, you keep going. Be sure to bring your sticks and plenty of water. Very beautiful cactus and up hill and down hill slopes. The horsethief oasis, historically that’s just what it was, is lovely.

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Mandy Lucas
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Hiking

Beautiful hike with different terrains and a variety of different plants. Def recommend it and will definitely come back in spring when the flowers are blooming and there’s more water in the creek.

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Peter R
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Hiking

This is a great trail! Really beautiful scenery, pretty clearly marked (as Desert Spring Trail) and moderate difficult is accurate. Had our dogs off leash the whole time and no problems, there’s so much space out there for everyone!

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Traci McCann
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Hiking

Amazing! Beautiful scenery, so many colors & various terrain.

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Augie Krutzsch
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OHV/Off-road driving

Nice moderate lite traffic hike

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Julie Michele
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Hiking
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janet roberts
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HikingGreat!

Beautiful up and down trail with some small rocky sections. Cool and shaded, lovely at this time of the year but would be a refreshing break from desert hikes in the summer months. Amazing variety of cacti, small shrubs, pinyon pines and cottonwood trees in full fall yellow splendor. There was water in the creek, always great to see. Entire hillsides filled with prickly pear, agave and cholla; many with dried flower heads still alight with fall colour. I will be returning in the spring! Very few fellow hikers and the trailhead is a pretty, short drive from Palm Desert. I kind of hope it stays under discovered! Note that there is no signage at the parking lot or trail head specific for Horsethief Creek. Follow the signs for Sawmill Trail and Cactus Spring Trail. At the trailhead junction with the sign-in box, take the Cactus Spring trail to the left. This hike is the first section of the Cactus Spring trail, taking you to a cotton wood groove at the creek. You can continue on, up and out from the creek for some nice views for another mile or two; then turn around and return....the views and vegetation coloration are different heading back with the later afternoon sun! Enjoy!

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Sumer Foley
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HikingGreat!

Hardly anyone on a Saturday morning! It was great to avoid the crowds of Idyllwild. The Creek was dry but we will come back in winter or spring. Looks like there would be lots of little creek crossings. Remnants of an old mine or quarry in there. Fairly easy trail. No major climbs...goes up and down a bit both ways.

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Joshua Williams
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Hiking

Moderately challenging hike with solid views, shade and an active creek.

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Robert Heckert
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Hiking

Nice shaded trail with lots of ups and downs.

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Carol Neal
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Hiking

Most of the stream is dry presently but still a nice and interesting hike. We left early to beat t heat and saw deer on more than one occasion!

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Dylan Shoemaker
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HikingBugs

Signed in at the trail head just after sunup and made it to the creek before the sunlight did. The temperature drop as I descended into the valley was refreshing. The boulders allowed for a bit of an adventure, and I sat and ate breakfast in the cool valley amidst the grass, trees, bushes, and tadpoles. Serenity is the word that comes to mind. Shortly after the sun reached the bottom of the valley, the flies became more active. The hike back was much warmer on the way back, and I swear one fly in particular followed me for a couple miles. The cactii, yucca, and shrubs make the valley green and this hike a beautiful trip.

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Claire Krawitz
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Hiking

Hike with Kay. Hwy 74 closed on way home.

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