Hike distance: 4.98 miles
Like many desert hikes, the beginning of the Indio Hills Badlands trail is nothing to write home about; however have patience. After climbing a small hilly section at the start, the trail crossed a sandy flats with power transmission lines directly above us.
After about a mile, the badlands hills began to rise immediately in front of us.
The trail traverses the San Andreas Fault exposing twisted and tortured rocks that have been uplifted and moved over millions of years. These hills formed over 6 million years as the North American and Pacific tectonic plates slid against one another along the fault. This action caused land on either side of the meeting line to rise dramatically at odd angles.
In addition, sediments deposited over the millennia were compressed by water and cemented together when the water evaporated. The forces combined to form soft sedimentary rock that covers much of this area.
As erosion continued, steep slopes, sharply angled rocks, razor like ridges, and deep gullies formed - all hallmarks of 'badlands geology'. Continued plate movement and uplifting further accentuated these outcomes.
Pock-marked and scarred rock surface provide evidence that erosion is an ongoing process.
As we hiked further the trail grew more narrow around us.
The trail entered several narrow slot-like canyons but the side walls were never more than 8-12 feet above our heads.
There were lots of highly eroded mud rock, small openings etched out of stone and numerous nooks and crannies in the canyon walls.
This rock formation looks like two skulls facing each other.
We began climbing out of the wash and canyon. With a gain in elevation, the rock formations were more dramatic. Dave raced ahead for this summit.
But we shared in this panoramic view from the top.
Just look at the odd angles of these sediment layers and imagine the forces it took to cause this effect.
Some great views as we descended back into the wash.
Wildflowers filled the wash.
Painted lady butterflies were everywhere.
A final climb out of the badlands hills with the trail hugging a ridge line.
We entered the wash that led back to the sand flats.
Although not the most challenging portion of the hike, the super bloom of lupine and desert sunflowers in the sand flats made for a great end to this hike.