2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
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. 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! This trail is super chunky and 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.) 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 trail is 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 halfway point of the trail.
This is where Palm Canyon Trail ends and 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. At the dry wash, be prepared to do some walking as this route gets too soft to pedal.
Keep an eye out for some side routes that parallel the trail on the right.
These as well as East Vanderventner Trail (about a mile up) act as good bail-outs.
The dry wash portion tops out at Dunn Road at a section known as "the freeway".
Go left here to the Art Smith Trail benches and a well-deserved rest! In the case of an EMERGENCY only, the Indian Canyon gift shop (and help) is about four 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. You need to be self sufficient, have a map & GPS receiver, and be good at navigation as the complete PCE is composed of multiple trail segments