Northeast of Palm Springs, the Lost Palm Oasis Trail is an 8 mile round-trip route to a remote canyon full of palm trees. Watch the temperature!
The hike begins at Cottonwood Spring, close to the visitor center 6 miles inside the southern park boundary. The spring produces water all year and helps sustain a few dozen palm trees although this is not a natural group, being planted by settlers in the late nineteenth century. Nearby is the Cottonwood Spring Campground and a 3 mile loop nature trail that passes many types of desert plants, an historic mill site and some shafts and other relics from an old gold mine. The path to the Lost Palms branches off southeastwards and is essentially straight for the 4 miles to the oasis, with a small overall elevation gain of 750 feet. The surroundings are impressive from start to finish - many outcrops of the granitic boulders rise from an undulating landscape of ridges, plateaux, small canyons and rocky washes; between the rocks the ground is covered by coarse whitish sand through which cacti, bushes and wildflowers grow profusely - clean, pristine scenery. In spring, the dry washes are especially pretty as flowers grow in the smooth white sandy streambeds while many more line the edges, intermingled with flowering bushes; most visible of these are red chuparosa, yellow brittlebush and the blue-purple indigo bush. The main species of cacti are echinocereus, ferocactus (California barrel cactus), mammillaria, cholla and other types of opuntia.