Hiking North Lykken Trail, Palm Springs

The entrance to the North Lykken Trailhead is located at the end of Ramon Road in Palm Springs. When you reach the picnic tables, you know that you’ve arrived. Compared to South Lykken Trail, North Lykken has very little useful information to be found online. The following is our story from the day we headed up for a good day’s hike.

Entrance to the trailhead

Entrance to the trail

Beginning

South Lykken Trail

North Lykken Trail

We had family visiting from Denver, and the excitement grew once we arrived. As we started to climb this beautiful trail, the incline gradually became steeper, and the pressure of carrying our kids in their packs on our backs grew.

The uphill climb

The uphill climb

The path consists of dirt, gravel, and rocks, all of which makes it a bit slippery along the way. Thirty minutes into the hike we reached a plateau, an ideal spot to take a well-deserved break. My wife, on the other hand, decided otherwise, as she wanted everyone to keep going. Like a good husband, I adjusted my backpack and followed her lead.

Blooming flowers

Blooming flowers

Spring transformed the mountain into a tapestry of vibrant colors, with wildflowers making their seasonal debut across the desert landscape. The path on the plateau ultimately gives way to a gradual climb, and a good pair of hiking shoes will help you keep your footing.

Palm Springs seen from far

Palm Springs in the distance

The climb

The climb

As we moved further upward, a buzzing swarm coming from an outcrop caught our attention. My wife figured they were perhaps bees or even termites, but nothing pursued us. At this point, I could only feel the pain in my back and sweat trickling down my spine.

Beautiful views

Beautiful views

Are we there yet?

Still hiking

Still hiking

An hour into the hike, we thought we almost reached the end. We asked several exhausted hikers coming down the path how much farther we had to go, and each provided their own calculation, which only confused us more. For one, it was 20 minutes, for another, we weren’t even close to finishing. Others wished us good luck trying this particular hike with kids on our backs.

We’re not ones for giving up, especially when my wife has a say in it. We continue no matter how hard it gets, and turning back is never an option unless someone is injured. I remember a hike we did with our kids up Mt. Monadnock, in New Hampshire, and we had to climb over 20-foot rocks to follow the trail. We hiked over 8 hours to reach the summit. Despite our exhaustion, we kept going because we had no choice. The hike along the North Lykken Trail couldn’t be as bad, right?

almost there

Almost there

Finally!

Picnic tables

Picnic area

Despite wearing hats and sunglasses, the sun was beating down on us, adding to the strain of the long hike. After a further 20 minutes, we saw a set of picnic tables and were so excited at the sight. We rushed towards them, let the kids out so that they could run around, and give our backs the relief they needed.

Another view of the city

Palm Springs

While we rested, we saw two women coming up from another trail. I asked them if they had taken the one from the Art Museum, and they said they had. They didn’t recommend going down it, however, because it was too steep. We had heard this as well from other hikers we met along the trail. To be on the safe side, we decided to heed the advice and return the way we came.

Just before we were about to get ready and go down the mountain, a hiker came running up to us and told of his escape from an agitated bee colony he encountered on the way up. We took his tips to avoid getting involved with them and began our descent, with our kids tucked safely into their backpacks.

Going back

A lizard captured

A lizard blending in well with its environment

As we walked downhill, we saw big and small lizards sunbathing on the rocks. Of course, our kids wanted to get a closer look. We also saw butterflies and the so-called agitated bee colony the hiker warned us about. We passed by without any problems, but I wondered what the hiker had done to get them riled up. People we met along the trail asked us if we had taken the kids on our backs to the top as well, and they were stunned when we said yes. The general consensus we heard from these other hikers was: “you guys are crazy.” To which I replied: “Tell us something we don’t know.”

Despite the heat and the climb to the top with our kids on our backs, it was a great, fun hike.

What to know before you go:south Lykken trail

  • The North Lykken Trail connects one side of Palm Springs to the other, with spectacular views of the San Jacinto Mountains.  It’s less frequented by hikers, and some people use it as running path. Keep in mind that there are a few scary drop-offs, and the paths are narrower than South Lykken Trail.
  • It takes 1.5 hours  to the top, depending on how fast you go. It’s about a 2-mile hike to the picnic area and another 1 mile down to the Art Museum. Most people do early morning hikes, starting around 5:00 am or 6:0 a.m. in summer (it’s nice to see the sunrise from the picnic area), or after 7 in the evening to see the sunset. In winter, spring, and fall, it’s recommendable to start between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.
  • Good hiking shoes, water bottles, a hat, sun screen are essential. Avoid the heat of the day, as there’s no shade for protection. Bring some trail mix too.
  • There’s no entrance fee, but parking is limited.
  • The typical wildlife hikers spot are rodents, lizards, butterflies, bees, and birds. Snakes are also present, so be aware!

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