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Chaparrosa Peak
Pioneertown Mountains Preserve, California
January 22, 2020

The loop trail for Chaparrosa Peak was one of the most interesting hikes we did while we were in Palm Springs. An hour's drive north of the city, this hike offers a lot of variety for an easy, half-day trip. From huge granite boulders and pleasing desert scenery to old ruins and pictographs, the trail kept us engaged.

The trailhead is at the upper parking lot above the ranger station. Dinah and I signed the trail register and started down Indian Loop Trail. After dropping down to a wash, the trail steadily climbs until it reaches an intervening ridge before the peak. The path then descends and crosses a shallow bowl.

At the junction for Chaparrosa Peak, we left Indian Loop Trail and headed to the mountain. When the trail began climbing the ridge for Chaparrosa, we were treated to a vast boulder field on our left. Soon after, we were standing next to a small summit cairn.

We weren't keen to hike a kilometre back to the junction to Indian Loop Trail, not when we could get to the trail more directly. So we continued along the ridge. We bushwhacked through desert scrub and took in some ups and downs, before dropping down a spur to get back on the trail. The offtrail hiking wasn't particularly pleasant, but it knocked off considerable distance than if we had hiked back to the junction.

Back on Indian Loop Trail, we followed it as it snaked between two high points before heading down a canyon. At the bottom, the trail turns right, leading to Pipes Canyon.

There were a few things of interest in the canyon. The wetlands were wildly overgrown with the trail running tunnels through tall bushes. While still in the wetlands, we stopped and poked around Olsen's Ruins, the remains of a cabin nearly a century old. Farther along the trail, out of the wetlands, we came to a rock bearing pictographs. From there it was a short hike back to the parking lot, completing this delightful loop.

KML and GPX Tracks

Starting up the trail. The trail climbs the ridge in front of us.


The trail drops down first


California thrush


The trail eventually climbs over the ridge ahead


The ridge appears rocky but the trail avoids most of the boulders


Hiking up the ridge


Looking back


On top of the ridge


The trail drops down into a bowl. Chaparrosa Peak appears directly above me.


The trail is mostly flat as it crosses the bowl


The fork: left for Chaparrosa and right for Indian Loop Trail


The trail begins climbing to the ridge


On the ridge heading toward the false summit


On our left the slopes are covered with granite boulders


Another view of the boulder field a little farther up the trail


The summit is now in front of us


Standing by the summit cairn


Starting along the ridge from the summit


Hiking along the ridge wasn't pleasant because of desert scrub and the ups and downs


We dropped down a spur where we could get back on the Indian Loop Trail


Back on the trail


The trail crosses the ridge between the two high points ahead


The path then follows a wash down to Pipes Canyon


A stone stairway shows the work that was put into making this trail easy


The descent trail drops down to a valley below


At the bottom we turned right and entered Pipes Canyon


Entering the canyon


Walking through wetlands, the area was extremely bushy


We passed through tunnels of bushes


Remains of a cabin – "Olsen's Ruins" – date back to the 1920s


We're still a long way from the end of the canyon


A brief side trail leads to a rock bearing pictographs (centre, mouse over for a close-up)


Coming to the end of the canyon. The ranger station is barely visible.

Rimrock 1:24,000 Topo (7.1 mi, 5505 ft, 1056 ft)


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