Combining the best parts of TWO EPIC RIDES in the Palm Springs area, this is probably the most scenic, dangerous, challenging, technical, and utterly satisfying route I can imagine in the whole Palm Springs area. It is definitely an advanced ride, abundant with cactus and sharp rocks.
This ride requires a shuttle to the top. Leave a return vehicle at the base of the Art Smith Trail.
Drive the other up the 74 Hwy to the Pinyon Flats Campground area (no Forest Adventure Pass required as long as you park outside the camping area).
The Shuttle Drive: A Mere 12 Miles up the Road:
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The ride begins with a 2500′ drop into Palm Canyon over about 14 miles. But do be aware, the elevation change overall is misleading. This is not a downhill run.
Panorama of Palm Canyon
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For the next 3 miles, you’ll experience the “Death March” up a sandy wash area with an average 4% grade where you’ll pay for all that fun you had in the first couple hours of the ride to gain another 1000′ of elevation. During the winter, the sand may be packed enough to ride, but no matter what it will add a lot of drag to your tires, feeling almost like you are towing somebody up the hill. (That’s YOU, by the way.)
Once you reach the Dunn Rd, take a left and pretty soon you’ll be at the top of the Art Smith Trail. This is where the 2nd half of your EPIC adventure begins. If you liked the first 12 miles of this ride, you’ll LOVE the last 8 miles. It is more technical for sure.
Most of the trip on the Art Smith Trail is downhill, but within the first four miles of the Art Smith Trail, there are a couple big climbs (no more than 500′ each). At about the 20 mile mark, it’s pretty much all downhill from there to the end (approx 24 miles). Over the course of your trip, you will have climbed about 2400′ and descended about 5200′, making this a truly awesome cross country ride.
Photos of Palm Canyon & Art Smith Trail: