Whitewater Preserve Canyon Loop: Jan 2019

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Hiking distance: 8.7 miles


The Whitewater Canyon Loop trail is part of the Whitewater Preserve. Whitewater Preserve is 2,851 acres surrounded by the Bureau of Land Management’s San Gorgonio Wilderness, and includes the year-round Whitewater River.


For today's hike we decided to explore as much of the Preserve as possible in a full day. We headed out along the Canyon View Loop that provided great views of the Whitewater Canyon and surrounding mountains.

Snow-topped mountain viewed from the desert floor.


The trail followed a wash which led to the Whitewater River.

An active year-round flow but during the early winter the river was no more than a few inches deep and a 2-3 feet across.


The trail followed a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail heading south. The PCT is a 2,650-mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada.

Abundant plants supported by the river.

Beautiful views of Mount San Gorgonio from the trail as it followed the wash. Snowmelt from these mountains as well and some of So Cal’s other highest peaks has carved this wide canyon in the desert.


We left the wash and followed the West Fork trail into the hills.

Dave tried to get familiar with the types of plants and flowers we saw along the trail using a book that we had recently purchased. Little did we know how useful the book would be when the the 2019 wildflower super bloom started a few weeks later.

Around the Coachella Valley you are never far from magnificent views of San Jacinto ......

but for today's hike our attention was focused on the snow-capped hills and mountains of the San Gorgonio wilderness.

After a short hike into the hills, we turned around and headed for the Canyon View Loop trail that followed a ridge along the west wall of the Whitewater Canyon. A series of switchbacks led to the top of the canyon.

Great panoramic view of the wash and San Bernardino Mountains from 600 above the floor of Whitewater Canyon.

The Welcome Center from the top of the canyon.

The ridge was fairly level making for an easy hike.

Looking south were the churning wind turbines in the San Gorgonio Pass that leads into the Coachella Valley and Palm Desert. We followed the trail to a series of switchbacks back to the Welcome Center.


I love using the 'Map My Run' app to see the satellite view of the area we hiked.

Over the past ten years, the Whitewater River has transformed from black water cattle wallows to crystal clear waters. Other restoration efforts involved removing 19 neglected houses and commercial structures at the old trout farm along with diseased non-native elm trees. These impacted lands have been restored with native sycamores, cottonwoods, flowering ash, alders, narrow-leaved willows, native shrubs and substantial wetlands. Legislation is pending to make the Whitewater River a National Wild and Scenic River.



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