The Cactus Spring Trail can be found across from the Pinyon Flats Campgrounds, right before you get to the Pinyon Riverside County Transfer Station, in the Santa Rosa Wilderness Area. It is a point to point trail that ends at the desert by Indio, so you need to have a vehicle here to pick you up after the hike. This 20-mile hike is popular, but can be difficult to endure for those who are not experienced hikers.
If you plan to take your pooch here, make sure you pack plenty of water, snacks, a compass, and a first aid kit. Many people camp along the way because it is such a long hike (around 10 hours) so you may want to consider packing a tent, extra clothing, food, and flashlights or a lantern. Make sure you camp at least 100 feet from the trail to prevent being woken up by other hikers.
Even if you are an experienced hiker, many who have hiked this trail say that it is hard to follow due to the lack of maintenance and signage. However, all those who explored this pawrific path claim that it is definitely worth the hike just to see the historic and gorgeous area that was so important to the Cahuilla Indians many years ago. Some have even found ancient Indian artifacts such as pottery and tools on the trail.
Most of the trail is not shaded, as it is desert country, but you will definitely see some pawesome wildflowers along the way such as desert bluebells, evening primrose, mariposa lilies, spineflower, daisies, popcorn flowers, yucca, amaranth, blazing star, lotus, buckweet, broom, and many varieties of cacti. In fact, there are more than 225 different species of plants along the Cactus Spring Trail.
The first couple of miles are mostly flat desert trail until you reach Pinyon Flat, about two miles in. Another two and a half miles from there you will come to the Horsethief Creek, which you can follow about two miles until you reach the Cactus Spring. This is where it gets difficult to follow so you will need a map and compass or a guide to travel the next 15 miles in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains.
Throughout the trail, you will likely come across many types of wildlife like lizards, rabbits, and bighorn sheep, so keep Fido on a leash at all times. There are some spectacular views to photograph, and you will likely see something new every time you come here.