This rugged trail will challenge you to the core!! An Epic that some call a death march...”
— Paul Rogers
There are cattle grazing boundary gates, please keep them closed!
This trail is best ridden from October through May, at the latest. This area gets 110 degree summers that tap into spring and fall as well. Please check weather conditions prior to riding.
At the bottom of the trail you HAVE TO make a right and climb out "dry wash". Palm Canyon Trail is off-limits from here (Sovereign Indian Land). They have there own laws, and GUNS!
This is a brutal trail that is incredibly rewarding. It is super chunky technical the whole way down! An Incredible trail with cliff hugging precariousness, skinny rocky heart-pumping pick sections, lumpy crazy rock-gardens, brash and natural boulder kicker launchpads, loose, sandy, squirrelly bike-surfing, and back again. From high up on ridge lines, to deep down in canyons, this trail has all the elements. Be prepared to be blown away, literally and metaphorically! (it can be gale force windy here too)
Need to Know
This is a shuttle ride. It's recommended to leave a car on hwy 111 and Date Palm Dr. Park at the top on hwy.74 and Pine View Dr. There are several places to stage a car at the bottom depending on which option you decide to finish out the ride.
I strongly recommend bringing a GPS and having this trail downloaded to the MTB Project MTB Project mobile app
! The trail has very few markings and plenty of false turns, so be prepared. When you ride about a mile or two from the start, you'll get some great views of the desert floor. Take a moment to get your bearings, because you'll be looking down a huge canyon (nice work!).
Three essential ingredients you'll need to complete this ride: water, water, and WATER!! It can go from bone chilling to roasting hot between the top and bottom of this ride. Goatheads, pinchflats and massive burp-outs will definitely cut into your saddle time. Whatever your preference, BRING TUBES!!
Look for the trailhead at the end of Pine View Dr., it'll be on the right. At the ~3.5 mile mark you dump into a creek bed. Take a sharp left and you'll soon pick back up the trail downstream. Do not take the trail that branches to the right! Palm Canyon Trail is prone to washouts, so keep your eyes peeled and use your instincts. When in doubt, keep going downstream. At mile ~8.8, you'll merge onto a doubletrack section that can be deceptively hard to find when the trails washed out, look for a few lines that climb up out of the wash. It's up over that embankment.
Indian Potrero Trail has been closed periodically, requiring a detour (stay right on the doubletrack). This is also an option for the novice rider as there are some very technical sections! Either way, it ends up at the "dry wash" climb and the half way point of the trail. This is where Palm Canyon Trail ends and the a sand wash climb begins. There are many options from this point, but the ride isn't over at mile 12. You have a minimum of 8 more miles of riding at this junction, no matter how you cut it.
In the case of an EMERGENCY only, the Indian canyon gift shop (and help) is about 4 miles from the junction of dry wash and palm canyon going downhill. This is a NO BIKES area so be prepared to tell your emergency story and pay the park entry fees if confronted. The chief doesn't like bikes, but he is reasonable if you are respectful to him.
History & Background
This trail skirts National Forest, BLM, National Monument, wilderness preserve, and Tribal lands. It is also Bighorn Sheep territory! It is imperative that you represent the MTB community as having the utmost respect for others. Please pack it out! This is my back yard. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions or need any tips.