Take a hike on the wild side
Discover the untouched beauty of the pristine Colorado Desert in its natural state through a series of nature and hiking trails. Your Zoo admission or membership includes access to The Living Desert’s nature preserve and three trail loops. Open October 1 through May 30, the trail system is a memorable way to experience Coachella Valley nature at its best.
Loop 1: The Discovery Loop
Stroll through The Discovery Loop, a flat, sandy trail through a palo verde and smoketree desert riparian woodland. Interpretive signage along the path will help you interpret the desert world. This 1/4 mile trail is a brief 15 minute interlude from your tour of our grounds. A quiet place with unimpeded desert views.
Loop 2: The Adventure Loop
Get a little more adventurous on our exciting Adventure Loop. You travel through the same desert riparian woodland in Loop 1 then onto a rocky desert mountain slope or bajada. You will also experience a desert wash or arroyo, and can climb to an interpretive exhibit of the San Andreas Fault with broad views of this world famous fault. This trail is about one mile on a smooth dirt path, and includes interpretive signage. With exception of the dip into the wash, it is a very gentle rise and fall as you travel the loop.
Loop 3: The Wilderness Loop
Ready for more? The Wilderness Loop is for the adventurous or those ready to explore. This trail traverses a very rocky desert canyon if you travel the loop in a counter clockwise manner, or a desert mountain ridge if you travel in a clockwise manner. Either way, you peak at a covered picnic area at 1,000 feet elevation and can clearly see Eisenhower Peak at 1,952 feet. The path is narrow, but marked. You will climb over, scramble around, or jump from one boulder to another in the canyon. This desert experience is intimate with opportunities for wildlife viewing exceptional, and the views of the Coachella Valley at the top peak spectacular. The trail is 3.5 miles long from the junction with the Middle Loop or 5 miles from the parking lot. Expect to spend 3 to 5 hours on this loop.
These nature trails take you through various Sonoran Desert biological communities and habitats, including desert riparian woodland with smoketree, palo verde, desert willow, and desert scrub or creosote bush and white bursage in the canyon and on the ridge, plus a small dune near the Fault exhibit. You might even see a number of animals along the way!
Know Before You Go:
- The nature and hiking trails are open October 1 – May 30
- Carry and drink plenty of water; at least 2 quarts per person is recommended for the Wilderness Loop
- Dress appropriately for the weather including a hat and sunscreen
- This is a nature preserve; respect and stay on the trail
- Leave no trace; carry out what you carry in
- Understand that you hike at your own risk. The Living Desert assumes no liability. This trail is not patrolled, so it is recommended not to hike alone. Make sure a family member or friend knows where you are hiking before you go
- Be aware of your surroundings; watch where you put your hands and feet
- The trailhead gate closes at 4 pm. No overnight camping permitted