“You’re going to hear a lot of LONG jokes today!” That was the warning Desert Hot Springs City Council member, Gary Gardner, gave as he began his speech at the Long Canyon Trail Dedication ceremony in early December. And he was right.
Long Canyon is, well, a LONG canyon that connects the Coachella Valley to Joshua Tree National Park and the Morongo Basin. It begins at the end of a dirt road just past the corner of Hacienda Avenue and Long Canyon Road in Desert Hot Springs and connects to the Long Canyon Trail Route. It goes a LONG way, approximately 9 miles through Joshua Tree National Park wilderness until it levels off at Long Canyon Peak in Yucca Valley. Be warned: The wilderness trail is not improved and can be quite strenuous. Not ready for a 10-mile jaunt? No worries. Shorter “out and back” hikes can be done as well.
The trail, which officially opened December 3, was realized by a LONG list of collaborators. The project was completed in partnership by the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy, Friends of the Desert Mountains, and the City of Desert Hot Springs. CVMC funding from Propositions 12 and 68 and in-kind contributions from volunteers made the project possible. The Coachella Valley Conservation Commission owns the land on which the two parking lots and the Desert Hot Springs trailhead lie, while the Mojave Desert Land Trust owns the parcel on the opposite end of the trail known as Long Canyon Peak. Joshua Tree National Park intends to add minimal trail markings to its portion of the corridor, and MDLT has planned to create a trailhead and parking area of their own in Yucca Valley. In the meanwhile, please keep in mind that hikers will need to retrace their steps to the DHS trailhead along sometimes minimally marked routes. This is not an adventure for newbies.