Indio Hills Badlands Loop Trail: A Sand-sational Adventure!

At the Trailhead

We were told that the Badlands trail in Indio is a must-do hike, offering impressive views of the surrounding mountains. We love hiking, so this morning, we decided to take the family on a 5.5-mile trek with an elevation gain of about 800 feet in the Indio hills.

Beginning of the trail

Arriving at the trailhead, the weather was perfect—cool with a refreshing breeze, ideal for our adventure. We set off along the white sandy trail, knowing we were about to enter the mountains. The hike started slowly due to the deep sand, making walking a bit of a workout for our ankles!

different rock formations

After about 30 minutes, we began to enter the hills, navigating narrow paths that wound through the terrain. Some areas were so narrow we had to squeeze through. The climb to the top of the hills was challenging, even though the trail was marked as moderate.

hiking through the canyon

The hills were a sight to behold, with eroded sandstones creating cave-like structures and holes in the mountains, giving them an almost eerie appearance. It felt like the mountains were watching us, especially when I knocked on the rocks and heard the hollow sound of the sandstone!

a rock seems to scream

So, what makes these hills ‘badlands‘? Badlands are arid landscapes where softer sedimentary rocks have been extensively eroded by wind and water. This erosion creates steep slopes, minimal vegetation, and a rugged, often barren appearance. The rapid erosion rates in badlands areas result in constantly changing landscapes, with new formations and features constantly being shaped by the forces of nature. All these factors combine to create the unique and striking topography of the Indio Hills.

view from the top of the hills

Luckily, the trail was well-marked, so we couldn’t get lost even if we tried. Some parts of the trail were slippery and rugged, but with a little help, anyone could overcome the challenges. Although there was no shade along the trail, once we reached the canyon, there was plenty of shade to relax and rest.

Almost Halfway Through

Thankfully, none of us ended up on our asses, although it was a slippery trail! About 3 miles into the hike, the path led us to the top of the hill, offering breathtaking views of the valley below. The desert landscape looked surreal, with light brown sandy dirt mixed with green shrubs trying to survive in the harsh climate.

Manmade shadow lake seen from far

Along the way, we spotted a variety of wildlife, including lizards of all kinds, hawks searching for prey, squirrels, and plenty of insects—a nature lover’s paradise! The shrubs were green and filled with purple flowers, adding a splash of color to the landscape.

Walking along the top of the hills was intimidating, with its narrow, windy, and slippery paths. We had to navigate carefully to avoid any falls. Once we descended from the top, the trail led us down to the bottom of the mountain, which then turned into a canyon. We walked through the canyon for another 30 minutes before emerging from the other side of the trail.

out of the canyon

Finally, All Done!!!

The trail was like a lollipop—you start and end at the same point, with a loop in between. Once we were back at the car, the kids were exhausted and hungry, eager for some food before heading home.

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