Thousand Palms Oasis
Coachella Valley Preserve, California
Chef Emile's Paul Wilhelm Oasis, McCallum Grove and Moon Country Trail Log
December 22, 2006
There are several oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve the two that we hiked are about a half mile apart and I guess the most popular. See Map (this is hi res and 11mb be careful! ). Or see Don's GPS map of the hike!
The hike starts off at the Paul Wilhelm Oasis visitor's center, which is just a couple of steps from the parking lot. It is an old "log" cabin constructed of palm tree logs! Way Cool! There are restrooms, vending machines, picnic tables and a gift shop there.
Well about the hike, we were with several people so there was no solitude, so what, it was a walk rather than a nature hike!! The trail heads north through the marshy oasis. There are several places where the trail is lined with timbers and planks to walk on, otherwise you would be ankle deep in wet sandy mud. The palm trees are tall and provide plenty of shade, we took the trail at the end of December and the temperature was in the mid '60s, VERY NICE! The Desert Fan Palms do not naturally drop their palms, so without humans, they remain attached to the trunk. The dead palm branches are called appropriable "skirts".
As you emerge from the Wilhelm Oasis you follow the trail north about a half mile towards the McCallum Grove Oasis. The trail is well worn and no way can you get lost. You pass over the San Andreas fault, you don't really notice it because there is so much sand and gravel. And the ground did not move for me! Damn!
The second oasis has a spring and several pools, some were as deep as two feet. The pools have an indigenous fish to the Sultan Sea (Mecca, Ca. about 20 miles east), the pupfish. These are small minnow sized and there are many hundreds, maybe thousands. They have been introduced to the oasis because they are close to extinction in their natural habitat. We also saw a crawfish, as a Cajun I thought about setting out some nets, but on second thought knew that the rangers would not see the humor. I don't know how a crawfish can be indigenous to a California oasis, but it was there! BTW, check out the fabulous blue sky reflection in the oasis pool, truly breath taking.
We next back tracked the trail to a sign that pointed west and was marked Moon Country Trail, the trail led off northwest into the desert around the back of a ridge. It is a wash that was well traveled, but it had many signs (footprints in the dried creek bed) of bobcat and jack rabbit. We followed the trail, a slight but continuous uphill grade for about 3/4 of a mile. We saw a path that climbed about 60 feet to the top of the ridge. The view of both of the oasis is spectacular! Those are the green areas in the upper right hand side of the pic! One of the guys (Don) in the group had a GPS, and it recorded that we had climbed 205 ft vertically. A nice height to view of the desert floor. I have attached Don's GPS map of the hike, it shows exactly were and how we hiked, WAY COOOOOL...
We then followed the ridge down and hooked up to about the start of the Moon Country Trailhead. The map shows that you come back to the McCallum Grove Oasis, but we didn't, like I said we followed the ridge and connected back to where we started the Moon Country Trail.
This pic is looking southwest towards Palm Springs and Cathedral City, the pic is taken about midway between the two oasis. The green palms on the left are of Wilhelm Oasis. You can clearly Mount San Jacinto in the distance. Over all an easy hike of about 3 - 4 miles, fun, and enjoyable. The last pic is our pack of travelers, hikers and vagabonds!!
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