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Art Smith Trail: Jan 2019

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Hike distance 6.5 miles.

The first time I completed this hike, I did it alone since Dave was taking a watercolor class. The trail located in Palm Desert is an out and back stretching from Palm Desert to Cathedral City but usually we walk for a few hours and then return back to the Palm Desert starting point. The trail started by cutting through a wash and then climbing steeply up the mountain side.

Some interesting rock formations and great locations for spotting wildlife and plants.

View of the valley cities.

Within 45 minutes of starting the hike I spied a Peninsular bighorn sheep peering through the grass. Being respectful of this beautiful creature, I gave him space, but as I walked further, I ran into a small herd grazing on the hills.

Peninsular bighorn sheep inhabit dry, rocky, low-elevation desert slopes, canyons, and washes from the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains near Palm Springs, California south into Baja California, Mexico. These sheep are known as low elevation bighorn because they use habitat from areas ranging from 400 to 4,000 feet in elevation. Here is a quick video of the bighorn sheep grazing on the hillside.

In 1998, the United States Peninsular Ranges population of desert bighorn sheep was federally listed as an endangered species. However, due to efforts by local organizations suck as the Bighorn Institute the population is beginning to recover.

Over the past 35 years, the Bighorn Institute captive breeding and wild population augmentation program has resulted in the release of 127 bighorn into the wild. More critically, these efforts have kept two local herds from disappearing altogether. The Institute also monitors wild bighorn populations along the southern rim of the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs to La Quinta.  Bighorn Institute is the only organization of its kind and has had success over the years thanks to the generosity and support of its Board of Directors and members. Click on the hyperlink above to find more information about this organization.

Looking back at that trail as it snakes through the terrain.

Hiking past one the the many oases along the trail.

From this angle the rock formation looked like a dinosaur,

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