Hiking Along the San Andreas Fault in Southern California

Hiking Along the San Andreas Fault in Southern California


Southern California is stuffed with superb mountain climbing alternatives, however maybe few are as attention-grabbing as those who run alongside the San Andreas fault within the Colorado Desert of the Coachella Valley.

One in every of my favourite hikes alongside the fault is Pushawalla Palms Loop.

This hike provides totally different and superb landscapes that have been shaped by earthquakes and tectonic plate motion alongside the fault.

Fast Primer on the San Andreas Fault Community

Scientists have realized that the Earth’s crust is fractured right into a sequence of “plates” which have been shifting very slowly over the Earth’s floor for tens of millions of years. Two of those shifting plates, the Pacific Plate and North American Plate meet in western California; the boundary between them is the San Andreas fault. This fault varieties a steady slender break within the Earth’s crust that extends over 1,000 km from northern California southward to the Mexico border. Often, these plates slowly collide, separate and grind previous one another at a price of about 50 mm per yr. Nonetheless someday the plates lock in place till the stress created by the plates overcomes the power of the rock. At that time, the rocks fracture alongside the fault and seismic waves radiate in all instructions, inflicting the Earth to vibrate and shake. An earthquake happens because the plates transfer toes or tens of toes in simply seconds.

Since this state of affairs has been repeated again and again over 40 million years, it’s simple to grasp that land on both aspect of the fault have slid in reverse instructions over 450 km for the reason that plates first got here involved with one another. Over the millennia, these quakes have pulverized rocks, modified the stream of rivers, floor down mountains, and created new mountains, hills, canyons, and valleys. Right here’s a close-up view of the San Andreas fault space. The pink line marks the San Andreas fault, and the small black circle reveals the situation of the hike.

Common Desert Climbing Security

Although it is a comparatively brief hike, bear in mind you might be in a desert atmosphere. Being ready will enhance the possibility that you’ve an satisfying tour.

Listed below are a number of primary security ideas in case you are new to abandon mountain climbing:

  • Begin early. Don’t hike in the course of the hottest a part of the day.
  • Know the climate forecast. You don’t wish to be mountain climbing within the desert throughout a thunderstorm because of flash flood considerations.
  • Keep hydrated; drink numerous water. Common rule of thumb is 4-6 liters/particular person/day
  • Know the indicators of warmth stress.
  • Cowl your pores and skin. Costume appropriately in gentle weight unfastened becoming garments, hat, and correct sneakers/boots.
  • Look ahead to crops and wildlife and hold your distance. Bear in mind that is rattlesnake territory. Additionally, eradicating cactus needles isn’t nice and one thing you wish to keep away from.
  • Carry a path map. Take into account downloading an app equivalent to AllTrails or MapMyRun and even higher a GPS app to trace your path.
  • Bonus Advice: Maintain further water and snacks in your automotive. Even sizzling water is healthier than driving residence thirsty after an extended desert hike.

Pushawalla Palms Loop Path: 5 miles

Pushawalla Palms Loop is a well-marked path positioned throughout the 17,000-acre Coachella Valley Protect Space close to Thousand Palms, California. The trailhead is positioned lower than 15 miles from Palm Springs on Thousand Palms Canyon Rd. There’s loads of parking on the principle street however be ready for crowds on weekends. The trailhead is open year-round and there aren’t any charges or permits required.

The trailhead is the place to begin for a number of space hikes, so make certain to observe the Pushawalla Palms path indicators. For the primary 0.5 km, the trail winds its approach by way of a dry stream mattress know as a wash. In the course of the transient fall and winter wet season, washes like this present drainage channels for surrounding hills and mountains. These rains assist to disperse wildflowers seeds which root within the sandy soil because the water slowly evaporates. Come spring when the grounds warms, the seeds sprout and the path is lined with purple, yellow, and white wildflowers. This isn’t the picture most individuals have of the desert. The wildflowers draw giant crowds within the Spring, however thankfully, most individuals solely hike a brief portion of the path to view the wildflowers.

After strolling by way of the wash, the path begins climbing Bee Rock Mesa. This mesa and the encompassing hills are wedged between two faults which have squeezed and uplifted the rocks and gravel to create this straight line of sharply outlined hills alongside the fault.

The path winds its approach alongside the ridge of the mesa. Though this isn’t a knife edge, watch out since there’s a 90-100 meter drop off on both aspect of the path. Get pleasure from your stroll on the mesa; take within the sweeping views realizing that 3+ miles instantly beneath your toes is the San Andreas fault.

After mountain climbing 1.6 km, the Horseshoe Palm grove seems on the right-hand aspect of the path on the base of the hill. This lengthy string of palm bushes extends over 1.5 km. These palms flourish in the course of the desert as a result of the fault beneath us has pulverized the bedrock permitting groundwater to seep near the floor and nourish these bushes. It’s not unusual to see a straight line of palm bushes or different vegetation rising alongside sections of the San Andreas fault.

The trail follows the ridgeline for two.5 km. By now the gang could have considerably thinned out with most individuals returning to their vehicles. Sadly, these individuals assume the wildflowers within the wash are the very best a part of this path – they’re so flawed.

Over the following 1.25 km, the path begins a gradual descent to the ground of the Pushawalla Canyon. A bit of the path has been closely eroded by latest rainstorms. This isn’t a troublesome space to navigate but it surely does require extra cautious footing.

After 3.2 km of mountain climbing, you emerge on the ground of Pushawalla Canyon and are virtually instantly surrounded by a lush inexperienced atmosphere. In each instructions, for so far as the attention can see, there are the Pushawalla Palms. Why is it referred to as Pushawalla? Legend has it that Pushawalla was the identify of a neighborhood Native American who lived to be over 100 years previous. Allegedly he died when a summer season cloudburst flooded the canyon he was in and swept him away. The canyon the place he was discovered is named Pushawalla Canyon.

The California Fan Palms are the one palm tree native to america. The telltale signal of the California Fan Palm is the “skirt” of previous useless palm fronds that cascade downwards round its trunk (relatively than dropping off like different palms). Watch out strolling across the fallen palm fronds. They’re usually utilized by rattlesnakes for canopy and shade; snakebites have been reported within the Pushawalla Palms space. It’s price repeating, respect desert wildlife.

You possibly can discover Pushawalla Canyon in each instructions. Underground fissures attributable to the San Andreas faults present groundwater within the canyon a straightforward path to the floor. You’ll discover a small stream flowing on the bottom. The stream usually mysteriously disappears into the sand after which reappears additional down on the path. Be on the look-out for rabbits, coyotes, and all types of birds who’re drawn to the water.

Typically it feels extra like you might be strolling by way of wetlands with tall grasses and vegetation encroaching on the path. It’s unusual that this lovely desert oasis was created by faults and earthquakes that we usually solely affiliate with harm and destruction.

After exploring the palm oasis, it was time to go again. There are a number of choices you may wish to discover. For our return we selected to climb out of the canyon through the rock gully that we had used to descent from the ridge after which observe a path to the bottom of the hills. Strolling on the desert flooring offers a brand new perspective of the terrain. As we handed the Horseshoe Palm grove, we had a transparent view of a number of individuals mountain climbing on the ridge path above us.

As we hiked additional away from the hills, the vegetation turned sparser. However bear in mind, the attention-grabbing factor concerning the desert is that it hides its magnificence so effectively.

In case you are mountain climbing within the late winter or spring make sure you transfer slowly and look rigorously. You will discover a wide range of small and huge flowering crops and possibly even a lizard or two alongside the path.

After mountain climbing on the desert flooring for barely greater than 1 km, we climbed again as much as the ridge and made our method to the automotive.

For this hike we logged 10 km, however numerous maps point out typical lengths starting from 6-Eight km. Our extra mileage was because of our in depth exploration of Pushawalla Canyon. Even with a cease for lunch and images, we accomplished the hike in 3.Three hours. Within the satellite tv for pc picture beneath, the pink dot marks the trailhead, and the inexperienced dot marks the intersection the place we rejoined the ridge from the desert flooring on our return route.

Climbing alongside the San Andreas Fault within the Coachella Valley isn’t about discovering the “large crack within the floor”. Hundreds of thousands of years of abrasion have piled upwards of three miles of gravel and rock particles on prime of the fault. Though the fault is buried, you recognize now that it’s simply seen by following the strip of inexperienced vegetation that runs in a straight line towards an in any other case naked sequence of hills and brown desert washes. Hopefully, this info will encourage you to discover the San Andres Fault and Pushawalla Palms in your subsequent go to.

Further Assets

Thousand Palms Oasis Protect

Locations to Keep

There are numerous resorts, boutique accommodations and Airbnbs to remain at within the Higher Palm Springs space. Besides in the course of the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in April, acquiring a reserving shouldn’t be an issue.

Locations to Eat

As a result of the Higher Palm Springs space is such a vacationer draw. There are eateries to fulfill any want.

Listed below are a number of of our favourite spots to get pleasure from an after-hike dinners:





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