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Palm Canyon Trail (Extended Epic)

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.8 (26)

This rugged trail will challenge you to the core! A true epic that is brutal and incredibly rewarding.


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Map Key

15.9

Miles

25.5

KM

Singletrack

4,358' 1,328 m

High

1,454' 443 m

Low

1,062' 324 m

Up

3,108' 947 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

19%

Max Grade (11°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Allowed

There are cattle boundary gates, please keep them closed!

This trail is best ridden from October - May, at the latest. This area gets 110 degree summers that tap into spring and fall as well.
Check weather conditions prior to riding!

Near the bottom of trail, the signs will recommend going right but by mid 2019, you can now enter and go left, avoiding the three-mile dry wash. HIGHLY recommend avoiding this left trail on the weekends due to high traffic from hikers.

Need to Know

This is a shuttle ride. It's recommended to leave a car on Hwy 111 and Date Palm Dr. Park at the top on Hwy 74 and Pine View Dr. There are several places to stage a car at the bottom depending on which option you decide to finish out the ride.

I strongly recommend bringing a GPS and having this trail downloaded to the MTB Project mobile app! The trail has very few markings and plenty of false turns, so be prepared. When you ride about a mile or two from the start, you'll get some great views of the desert floor. Take a moment to get your bearings, because you'll be looking down a huge canyon (nice work!).

Three essential ingredients you'll need to complete this ride: water, water, and WATER! It can go from bone chilling to roasting hot between the top and bottom of this ride. Goatheads, pinchflats and massive burp-outs will definitely cut into your saddle time. Whatever your preference, BRING TUBES!

Description

This trail is super chunky and technical the whole way down! An incredible trail with cliff-hugging precariousness, skinny rocky heart-pumping pick sections, lumpy crazy rock gardens, brash and natural boulder kicker launchpads, loose, sandy, squirrelly bike-surfing, and back again.

From high up on ridge lines to deep down in canyons, this trail has all the elements. Be prepared to be blown away, literally and metaphorically! (It can be gale force windy here, too.)

Look for the trailhead at the end of Pine View Dr., it'll be on the right. At the ~3.5-mile mark you dump into a creek bed. Take a sharp left and you'll soon pick back up the trail downstream. Do not take the trail that branches to the right!

Palm Canyon Trail is prone to washouts, so keep your eyes peeled and use your instincts. When in doubt, keep going downstream. At mile ~8.8, you'll merge onto a doubletrack section that can be deceptively hard to find when the trail is washed out, look for a few lines that climb up out of the wash. It's up over that embankment.

Indian Potrero Trail has been closed periodically, requiring a detour (stay right on the doubletrack). This is also an option for the novice rider as there are some very technical sections! Either way, it ends up at the "dry wash" climb and the halfway point of the trail. This is where Palm Canyon Trail ends and a sand wash climb begins. There are many options from this point, but the ride isn't over at mile 12. You have a minimum of 8 more miles of riding at this junction, no matter how you cut it.

At the dry wash, be prepared to do some walking as this route gets too soft to pedal. Keep an eye out for some side routes that parallel the trail on the right. These as well as East Vanderventner Trail (about a mile up) act as good bail-outs. The dry wash portion tops out at Dunn Road at a section known as "the freeway". Go left here to the Art Smith Trail benches and a well-deserved rest!

In the case of an EMERGENCY only, the Indian Canyon gift shop (and help) is about four miles from the junction of dry wash and Palm Canyon going downhill. This is a NO BIKES area so be prepared to tell your emergency story and pay the park entry fees if confronted. The chief doesn't like bikes, but he is reasonable if you are respectful to him.

Contacts

Shared By:

Paul Rogers with improvements by Doug Rierdan and 2 others

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 26 votes

#282

Overall
  4.8 from 26 votes
5 Star
81%
4 Star
15%
3 Star
4%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#22

in California

#282

Overall
151 Views Last Month
31,946 Since May 5, 2014
Intermediate/Difficult

4%
0%
17%
8%
71%
0%

Photos

The dreaded "Sand Slog" 3.4 miles of dry riverbed. We caught it after a rain, so it was pretty firm. Can be a sandbox though.
Jan 27, 2019 near Cathedr…, CA
Oasis.
Jan 10, 2019 near Cathedr…, CA
View from the too
Jan 10, 2019 near Anza, CA
The wash is not as bad as the whiners say. Slow and steady wins the race!
Jan 10, 2019 near Cathedr…, CA
Near the trailhead--prepare for a bit of exposure!
Aug 23, 2019 near Cathedr…, CA
desert melons or a mirage...... you be the judge
May 6, 2014 near Cathedr…, CA

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Jan 30, 2022
Jody Castro
First time riding PCE. Great ride! The 3 mile sand wash wasn't to sandy. My fav section was the Wild Horse downhill ride! Trail is in great condition. 29mi — 7h 00m
Dec 23, 2021
James Bishop
One of the best trails in California in my opinion! 27mi
May 2, 2021
Pedro Ordonez
Apr 11, 2021
Steve Sands
Awesome riding. Did PCE and HBV, and Dunn rd. Sandy wash at end of PCE is rideable, so good to ride it, but need to be out early to beat the heat! 23mi — 6h 00m
Jun 8, 2020
Justin Nees
Jan 1, 2020
Oz Man
Awesome 22.1mi — 5h 00m
Dec 28, 2019
David Cho
Nov 2, 2019
Lorenzo Rodriguez