FATMAP by Strava

Art Smith Trail

Tough single track climb that opens up to many trails up high

Mountain Biking Severe

25 km
1 km
1 km
2-3 hrs
Low Point
308 m
High Point
752 m
Art Smith Trail Map

This ride is located north of Palm Desert in the Santa Rosa Mountains National Scenic Area. From its origin in Dead Indian Canyon, this 16.7-mile out-and-back singletrack route takes you through a diverse desert garden of cacti s you follow a couple of sandy washes into a canyon. The impeccably signed and maintained path then begins climbing sharply up switchbacks while passing signs erected in tribute to the trail's namesake. You will dismount and carry your bike with frequency. This trail is exclusively a ride for the young and young at heart. if you're riding like you're youthful, strong, and immortal, this is paradise. But if you feel old, blasé', or timid, it's an ordeal.


The trail starts out from Highway 74 immediately south of Bighorn Country Club. Just south of the fence surrounding Bighorn Country Club, you'll encounter the signed trailhead on your right.

The first mile is a tough one, ascending switchbacks. There are a decent amount of hike-a-bike sections throughout the trail but the reward is lots and lots of singletrack and access to great trails like Hahns Buena Vista Trail. You'll pass very close to a few palm oases, and the trail spends very little time in dry washes. There is a really nice downhill section about six miles in where you'll descend into a canyon.

From there, you'll climb back out and spend a little time in a dry wash before climbing out again and coming to Mike Dunn's "rest area" on Dunn Road which is also the trailhead for the Hahns Buena Vista Trail.

The trail is well marked and suffers from very little erosion and is in great condition. Take lots of water, and be ready with tweezers to remove cactus needles from your tires and/or your appendages. The Cholla cactii are all along the trail, and you'll get a lot of them trying to hitch a ride.

The Hopalong Cassidy Trail also starts at an intersection a mile or two from the beginning of Art Smith. That section of Hopalong Cassidy has a few significant hike-a-bike sections and tough climbs until you get to the Palm Desert. Cross if you were looking to connect to other trails in the Palm Desert/Cahuilla Hills area.

You can use this trail to make loops or shuttle rides depending on the weather and your endurance. If you were to ride onward and do Hahns Buena Vista Trail to Dunn Road Trail to Cathedral Canyon Trail you would be looking at a 26-mile loop riding Highway 111 and Highway 74 back to the Art Smith Trailhead.



Widely variable, narrow trail tread with steeper grades and unavoidable obstacles of 15in/38cm tall or less. Obstacles may include unavoidable bridges 24in/61cm wide or less, large rocks, gravel, difficult root sections, and more. Ideal for advanced-level riders.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between October and April


  • Technical
  • Hike a bike
  • Picturesque
  • Singletrack

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