Hiking Along the San Andreas Fault in Southern California

Hiking Along the San Andreas Fault in Southern California

Southern California is filled with wonderful mountain climbing alternatives, however maybe few are as fascinating as those who run alongside the San Andreas fault in the Colorado Desert of the Coachella Valley.

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

This hike gives completely different and wonderful landscapes that had been shaped by earthquakes and tectonic plate motion alongside the fault.

Quick Primer on the San Andreas Fault Network

Scientists have discovered that the Earth’s crust is fractured right into a sequence of “plates” which were shifting very slowly over the Earth’s floor for hundreds of thousands 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 in the Earth’s crust that extends over 1,000 km from northern California southward to the Mexico border. Usually, these plates slowly collide, separate and grind previous one another at a price of about 50 mm per yr. However someday the plates lock in place till the stress created by the plates overcomes the energy 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 as the plates transfer ft or tens of ft in simply seconds.

Since this situation has been repeated repeatedly over 40 million years, it’s straightforward to know that land on both aspect of the fault have slid in reverse instructions over 450 km since the plates first got here in contact with one another. Over the millennia, these quakes have pulverized rocks, modified the circulate of rivers, floor down mountains, and created new mountains, hills, canyons, and valleys. 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 exhibits the location of the hike.

General Desert Hiking Safety

Even although it is a comparatively quick hike, keep in mind you might be in a desert setting. Being ready will enhance the probability that you’ve an gratifying tour.

Here are just a few primary security ideas if you’re new to abandon mountain climbing:

  • Start early. Don’t hike throughout the hottest a part of the day.
  • Know the climate forecast. You don’t need to be mountain climbing in the desert throughout a thunderstorm attributable to flash flood issues.
  • Stay hydrated; drink numerous water. General rule of thumb is 4-6 liters/individual/day
  • Know the indicators of warmth stress.
  • Cover your pores and skin. Dress appropriately in gentle weight unfastened becoming garments, hat, and correct footwear/boots.
  • Watch for crops and wildlife and preserve your distance. Remember that is rattlesnake territory. Also, eradicating cactus needles isn’t nice and one thing you need to keep away from.
  • Carry a path map. Consider downloading an app comparable to AllTrails or MapMyRun and even higher a GPS app to trace your path.
  • Bonus Recommendation: Keep further water and snacks in your automobile. Even scorching water is best than driving dwelling thirsty after an extended desert hike.

Pushawalla Palms Loop Trail: 5 miles

Pushawalla Palms Loop is a well-marked path positioned inside the 17,000-acre Coachella Valley Preserve Area 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 important highway 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 start line for a number of space hikes, so ensure that to comply with the Pushawalla Palms path indicators. For the first 0.5 km, the path winds its means by means of a dry stream mattress know as a wash. During the temporary 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 in the sandy soil as 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 is just not the picture most individuals have of the desert. The wildflowers draw massive crowds in the Spring, however happily, most individuals solely hike a brief portion of the path to view the wildflowers.

After strolling by means of the wash, the path begins climbing Bee Rock Mesa. This mesa and the surrounding 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 means alongside the ridge of the mesa. Although this isn’t a knife edge, watch out since there’s a 90-100 meter drop off on both aspect of the path. Enjoy your stroll on the mesa; take in the sweeping views figuring out that 3+ miles instantly beneath your ft is the San Andreas fault.

After mountain climbing 1.6 km, the Horseshoe Palm grove seems on the right-hand aspect of the path at the base of the hill. This lengthy string of palm bushes extends over 1.5 km. These palms flourish in the center 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 path follows the ridgeline for two.5 km. By now the crowd could have considerably thinned out with most individuals returning to their vehicles. Unfortunately, these individuals assume the wildflowers in the wash are the finest a part of this path – they’re so flawed.

Over the subsequent 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 tough space to navigate however it 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 setting. In each instructions, for so far as the eye can see, there are the Pushawalla Palms. Why is it known as Pushawalla? Legend has it that Pushawalla was the identify of an area Native American who lived to be over 100 years outdated. Allegedly he died when a summer time cloudburst flooded the canyon he was in and swept him away. The canyon the place he was discovered is known as Pushawalla Canyon.

The California Fan Palms are the solely palm tree native to the United States. The telltale signal of the California Fan Palm is the “skirt” of outdated lifeless palm fronds that cascade downwards round its trunk (moderately than dropping off like different palms). Be cautious strolling round the fallen palm fronds. They’re usually utilized by rattlesnakes for canopy and shade; snakebites have been reported in the Pushawalla Palms space. It’s price repeating, respect desert wildlife.

You can discover Pushawalla Canyon in each instructions. Underground fissures attributable to the San Andreas faults present groundwater in the canyon a straightforward path to the floor. You’ll discover a small stream flowing on the floor. 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.

Often it feels extra like you might be strolling by means 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 injury and destruction.

After exploring the palm oasis, it was time to go again. There are a number of choices you would possibly need to discover. For our return we selected to climb out of the canyon by way of the rock gully that we had used to descent from the ridge after which comply with a path to the base of the hills. Walking on the desert ground gives 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 grew to become sparser. But keep in mind, the fascinating factor about the desert is that it hides its magnificence so nicely.

If you might be mountain climbing in the late winter or spring remember to 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 ground for barely greater than 1 km, we climbed again as much as the ridge and made our strategy to the automobile.

For this hike we logged 10 km, however numerous maps point out typical lengths starting from 6-8 km. Our extra mileage was attributable to our in depth exploration of Pushawalla Canyon. Even with a cease for lunch and pictures, we accomplished the hike in 3.3 hours. In the satellite tv for pc picture under, the pink dot marks the trailhead, and the inexperienced dot marks the intersection the place we rejoined the ridge from the desert ground on our return route.

Hiking alongside the San Andreas Fault in the Coachella Valley is just not about discovering the “giant crack in the ground”. Millions of years of abrasion have piled upwards of three miles of gravel and rock particles on prime of the fault. Although 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 in opposition to an in any other case naked sequence of hills and brown desert washes. Hopefully, this data will encourage you to discover the San Andres Fault and Pushawalla Palms in your subsequent go to.

Additional Resources

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

Places to Stay

There are numerous resorts, boutique lodges and Airbnbs to remain at in the Greater Palm Springs space. Except throughout the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in April, acquiring a reserving shouldn’t be an issue.

Places to Eat

Because the Greater Palm Springs space is such a vacationer draw. There are eateries to satisfy any want.

Here are just a few of our favourite spots to take pleasure in an after-hike dinners:

Steve and Dave are avid hikers and vacationers. When not touring, they cut up their time between the East and West coast of the United States. They weblog about their journey and out of doors adventures at dwelling and aboard at outoftheoffice4good or you possibly can attain them on Twitter @OutoftheOffice8.

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