The South Lykken Trail in the San Bernardino National Forest is a great option for people who want to experience the beauty of nature without leaving the city. The south trailhead picks up right off of South Palm Canyon Drive in a residential Palm Springs neighborhood, then quickly ascends to spectacular views of the city, the Coachella Valley, and the San Jacinto Mountains. While still challenging, the South Lykken Trail is also less strenuous than other nearby trails like the "Bump and Grind Trail." It's a popular trail for this reason, so expect to see lots of other hikers and their dogs here.
In the spring, sprays of wildflowers provide bursts of color all along the trail. You might even spot a blooming cactus! Bighorn sheep balancing on sheer rock faces are a common sight on the South Lykken Trail. One of the most notable characteristics of this hike is all of the different shapes you'll see carved into the bare rock. The sides of tall towers have been worn smooth with wind erosion and time. Near the top of the trail, sheets of flat rock jut out from the mountain at all angles. Picnic tables provide places to stop and rest as you ascend to the ridge. You'll be able to see Tahquitz Canyon and other distant vistas as you settle down for a meal. In addition to the bighorn sheep, other wildlife species you might spot from this vantage include ground squirrels, lizards, and owls.
The most important thing to consider when doing this hike is the weather. The desert can get blisteringly hot in the summer and there is no shade or water on this trail. On some summer days, even with preparations like sunscreen, a hat, and lots of water, you might find that conditions are too risky. Coming early in the morning or in the evening close to sunset will help you beat the heat. The end of the trail is the perfect place to view a beautiful desert sunset. Just remember to bring a headlamp or flashlight if you expect to be hiking back down as it's getting dark.
However you tackle the South Lykken Trail, you and your pup are sure to return home inspired by your time on the mountain.