Dog Friendly Hikes in Coachella Valley

by | Jan 17, 2024 | Hiking and Travel Tips

Want to bring your dog on a hike in the desert region of Southern California? We share five hikes in the Coachella Valley and the surrounding region that are approved for you and your pooch!

Pionertown Mountains Preserve has several dog friendly hiking trails in Coachella Valley.
Cotopaxi hiking the trails in Pioneertown Mountains Preserve.

From National Parks to the Sand to Snow National Monument to Nature Preserves to BLM Desert Wilderness there are several great options for Dog Friendly Hikes in Coachella Valley.

The Coachella Valley is home to more dog friendly hikes than some might realize. This area of Southern California that resides in the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside features the highest point in SoCal. It also boasts a huge stretch of the PCT National Scenic Hiking and Equestrian trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada (or vice versa). And it has a series of charming cities and towns (Palm Springs, Indio, Desert Hot Springs, Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and more) that make the desert experience in Coachella Valley one you won’t soon forget!

Dogs are welcomed in many areas and trails of the Coachella Valley. But there are also many areas they are not allowed on. From the protection of bighorn sheep to watching out for snakes this isn’t your normal “dog on all hikes” area. Doing research, like reading this article, will show you several dog friendly hikes in Coachella Valley!

Joshua Trees Selfie with my serious hiking dog ;). The yucca trees flourish in the hi-desert of the Coachella Valley.
Dogs can’t hike on the trails of Joshua Tree National Park, but they can hike on the dirt roads like Queesland and Black Canyon.

First things first…

It’s a privilege to bring your dog hiking on public lands. Please leash them if the area requests it, clean up after them, and be attentive. And while we are at it…Leave No Trace and Pack Your 10 Essentials :)!
Cotopaxi is a B.A.R.K. Ranger and if you choose to bring the best companions in the world on hiking trails please consider the same.

Now onto the fun stuff…

Dog Friendly Hikes in Coachella Valley

  1. Pioneertown Mountains Preserve, Pioneertown, California.
  2. Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, California.
  3. Mission Creek Preserve, Desert Hot Springs, California.
  4. Whitewater Preserve, Palm Springs, California.
  5. Homestead Trail (The Cross), Palm Desert, California.
The Wildlands Conservancy tends to have dog friendly hiking options.

Pioneertown Mountains Preserve.
This Wildlands Conservancy area located down the street from the “built for Hollywood” movie town with the same name is very dog friendly. When volunteering with the Mojave Desert Land Trust I have gotten to know the native plants and animals in the Preserve. Which has made me excited to come back and hike the trails and roads with my dog Cotopaxi. Various levels of trail difficulty lie in the preserve. There are options from Easy to Strenuous, maps and options are on their website and at the visitor center. Afterwards you can wander the “Where the Old West once was” movie set/town of Pioneertown. The Red Dog has excellent Mexican food, and given its name, a dog friendly patio/indoor area.

Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park doesn’t allow dogs on their trails. This is because of the protection of the endangered bighorn sheep, amongst other reasons. What they do allow though is for dogs to hike/walk on their dirt roads, so long as you are within 100 feet of road! Since the landscape in the park is similar at the end of a trail to the road this is an excellent option. Unless you are dead set on hiking Ryan Mountain, 49 Palms, or one of the old mining trails bringing your dog in for long walks and/or sitting by you just off the road while you rock climb works fine. Dogs are also allowed at the campgrounds.
The Queensland Road from the Barker Dam parking lot and the dirt road leading up to the Black Canyon Nature Trail are my two favorites to go on a long walk with Cotopaxi in the park. You get amongst the scenery; but still are abiding by the park rules. Indian Cove is a good spot to rock climb and have a dog outside of the car but within 100 feet of the road.
Hiking the Queensland Road gives you a chance to go to the town of JT. Go experience Big Josh, The JT Saloon, Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum, and the BEST Farmers Market around. Hiking Black Canyon will allow you to explore Yucca Valley’s vintage charm. Or you can come take a yoga class with me at Cedar & Sage!

Mission Creek Preserve in Desert Hot Springs is a great dog friendly hiking area in the Coachella Valley.
Mission Creek Preserve.

The Wildlands Conservancy has two preserves in the SoCal Desert!

Mission Creek and Whitewater Preserves.
Both of these preserves are run by the Wildlands Conservancy. They are also part of the Sand to Snow National Monument.
Mission Creek has a great hiking trail for dogs that takes you to a Pacific Crest Trail junction. Whitewater has a few different options for trails and has access to the PCT. Both of these sections of the PCT are dog friendly as well. You could make quite a day (or week!) of hiking in the area.
There is also overnight camping options at the Stonehouse in Mission Creek and Whitewater, a popular camping spot for PCT Thru-Hikers. Mission Creek is right off of 29 Palms Highway in Desert Hot Springs. Whitewater is a few miles back into a canyon just off of I-10. Both are easily accessible and drive times of 10-50 minutes depending on where in the Coachella Valley and Hi Desert you are coming from.

The Pacific Crest Trail has miles and miles of dog friendly portions in the Coachella Valley.

The Homestead Trail (The Cross Trail).
This hike is located in Palm Desert (part of the trio of cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Palm Desert that merge into one another.)
The trail is dog friendly. It has a nice chunk of elevation gain for a day hike. Finally there’s a cross on it that gets lit up at night. Easy to find, doggo approved!

Whitewater Preserve contains the Pacific Crest Trail, the Sand to Snow National Monument, AND flushable toilets!

There are more dog friendly hiking options in Coachella Valley and the Hi-Desert than I imagined before coming here for several months.

With a plethora of dog parks and a fenced yard hiking is not the only way our dog can get exercise. But it’s a great option to have. Desert hiking with your dog requires additional diligence to items such as burrs, rattlesnakes (if not in hibernation), and cacti. However the terrain is typically nice for them.

The Coachella Valley is a place we have lived twice and one of, if not, my favorite places to live. I’m grateful to have the chance to share some of my favorite dog friendly hikes in the area. Rest assured you will get to experience the amazing desert energy AND do so with your favorite four legged companion(s)!

Happy Trails and Happy Hiking to you and your Pups!
Thanks for reading and supporting Happy People Hike. Comment below with any questions or your favorite dog friendly trails in the Coachella Valley and Hi-Desert

Mike R

Mike Rudd

Mike Rudd

Nomad, Dood Dad, Planet Lover. Hashtag59 & Happy People Hike Lead Intern. Freelance Writer and Content Creator. Health and Wellness Curator.

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