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McCallum and Moon Canyon Loop Trail: Jan 2019

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Hike Distance: 4.2 miles

The McCallum and Moon Country loop trail is located in the Coachella Valley Preserve. The 17,000 acre Preserve is situated in the bluffs and mesas of the Indio Hills and is home to the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, which is found nowhere else in the world.

(Credit: Andrew Thompson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Public domain.)

It is also home of the spectacular Thousand Palm Oasis which is fed by subterranean water, which finds an easy path up through faults to the surface. Water finds its way up from the aquifer through weaknesses in the earth caused by the fault, creating the preserve’s rare and fragile habitat of palm woodland oasis and desert wetland. A raised wooden platforms/path cut through the grove to the McCallum trail.

The San Andreas fault runs east/west through the northern Coachella Valley, the fault splits north of Indio into several smaller faults. One of those, the Mission Creek Branch, parallels the McCallum Trail, the hills in the picture below are evidence of fault zone activity.

Our main reason for heading out to the Preserve was to see the start of the 2019 super bloom. Heavy rains in Nov 2018 and much of the late fall created conditions which led to one of the best super blooms in years. We observed plenty of signs of an extremely wet fall.

A super bloom is a rare desert botanical phenomenon in which an unusually high proportion of wildflowers whose seeds have lain dormant in desert soil germinate and blossom at roughly the same time. The phenomenon is associated with an unusually wet rainy season.

Some people from Friends of the Desert Mountains had recommended the trail for an early viewing. Sprawling encelia shrub full of flowers.

The trail led to the McCallum grove and pond. Not the perception most people have of a desert oasis.

Desert sand-verbena

Desert sunflowers covered the hills

Updated pictures from early Feb 2019.

Brown-eyed primrose and notch leaf scorpion

To think this was just the start of the 2019 wildflower season.

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