Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

General Palm Springs area.

Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Perry » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:45 pm

Sometime in the mid 2000's, I did Murray from Thielman and Wildhorse, and at the top I decided to come down the north side and then figure out how to get back because loops are more fun than out-and-backs. Well, I got lost on the Goat Trails, and it was a little warm, so I got dehydrated too. It took a long time, and I regretted doing this.

So recently I went on a mission to figure out how to make the connection on the Goat Trails. In the process, a hiking couple asked me how to get back to Rimrock after they had just hiked Murray. Apparently I'm not the only person to think of doing this or to have gotten lost attempting it. It's almost maze-like on the Goat Trails, but with a few basic tips it's quite doable. Here's a map with my notes:

https://mapper.acme.com/?ll=33.77721,-1 ... 0City%20CA

F: Trailhead for Thielman. Rarely used and good for avoiding crowds. Flash floods have washed out a section of Thielman right after the downhill part in the beginning. This requires a very small detour to the east. If you're just doing out-and-back and not a loop, the west side of Murray is a little cooler than the north side. Breezy on the ridges, and most of the climbing is done in the beginning.

H: This is where Thielman meets Wildhorse and Garstin. The trace trail to the northeast is the most direct connection route, except for the wash.

P: Goat Trails junction near the top of a hill. Avoid going south unless you want to be in the narrow wash which may involve scrambling or climbing (I don't know). Going north connects with Araby Trail and Berns Trail. East goes to Rimrock or Clara Burgess.

L: Goat Trails junction. South fork drops into wash just a little to the southwest of where Clara Burgess meets the wash. Reaching the Clara Burgess crossing or vice-versa is not technical, but it is more sandy and rocky than a trail. The satellite photo shows a couple more direct connections to Clara Burgess. I didn't notice those when I was there. North fork is the main road that goes back to Rimrock shopping center after many switchbacks and curves, or you can later connect to Clara Burgess via a couple small trails.

D: Rimrock shopping center trailhead. One of the most popular trailheads in Palm Springs but of questionable legal status, perhaps to avoid lawsuits, I don't know. Maybe somebody here knows more about this. Avoid the water tank trail because the DWA is probably serious about not wanting people there.

J: Upper trail that connects main road to Clara Burgess. A little breezier and cooler than lower trail.

R: Lower trail that connects main road to Clara Burgess. More scenic than upper trail, but there's not much of a breeze, so it can feel warmer. The trail that drops into the oasis at the bottom of the slot canyon is very nice but also a dead end.

N: Where Clara Burgess Trail meets the wash.

T: Top of Murray Hill.

B: Where Clara Burgess Trail meets Wildhorse Trail. Don't go south unless you want to go somewhere else.
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Ed » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:03 pm

Thanks, Perry. Much needed. I decided to hike Murray Hill a month or so ago. I made the summit three times out of four, but was 'locally lost' part of the time on the first three hikes. Starting, ending, taking wrong turns. Admittedly navigation is not my strong point, but I was not the only one. A lot of people seemed to be trying to navigate by smart phone, but I doubt there was good trail information on the downloaded maps. I was going by Ferranti's book. By the fourth time, I was giving directions to others, but there is still quite a bit of new information for me in your post, since I was starting from Southridge and Araby Drives. Amazing, when you are standing there looking straight at it, and puzzling over which way to go.
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Wildhorse » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:37 pm

The goat trails are so confusing. BLM left them off the map intentionally. BLM does not consider them trails. They regard their use as off-trail hiking. Maps serve political purposes, rather than navigational purposes in the monument. This is partly to protect the sheep, which the BLM has had much difficulty doing.
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Ed » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:25 pm

There is a BLM map? Where do you get it?
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Wildhorse » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:45 pm

Hi Ed, I think I bought it at the BLM / Monument visitor center in Palm Desert on the highway near the base of the mountains. If my memory is right, it was published about ten to twelve years ago by BLM/Monument. The map title is Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. It is a huge map, too big to be useful on a hike. It covers a huge area and is mainly useful for understanding the area in whole. I think of it as useful for political discussions about ecology and land issues. It is lousy as a hiking map.
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Perry » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:19 am

Ed, that's interesting that you mentioned Araby because that would be another good trailhead for doing the loop and it's completely legal. A bit crowded though. It looks like it could also be done from Cathedral City Cove, though I know nothing about where to park and how to access.

And yes, just finding the Clara Burgess on the north side of Murray can be difficult, even if just for an out-and-back hike. Doing Murray from the west side is much easier to navigate.

Wildhorse, I had thought the sheep count has been going up. It seemed like a difficult political issue in the past, but fences may go a long ways.
https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/en ... /28127119/
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Florian » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:00 am

I usually hike Murray Hill via the Thielemann trail. Sometimes i'll leave my car at Rimrocks and have my wife drive me over so i can do as a through hike. I have some of the routes on my Caltopo map of local Palm Springs trails ..

https://caltopo.com/m/VSG5

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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Ed » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:56 am

Thanks, Florian. I've looked for something like this from land managers and guidebooks, and not been able to find it. If it is not on the Tom Harrison map, I can easily become a lost soul very quickly. Not globally lost, but locally lost. I have the map Wildhorse referred to, but not here in San Diego, have spent little time looking at it, and it never occurred to me that it covered the Murray Hill area.

I liked doing the loop from Araby Drive, taking the Earl Henderson-Shannon-Berns trails to the Clara Burgess trail, ascending Murray Hill via the north side, and descending by the more gradual ridge with its better views. Becomes a little confusing from the Araby Trail sign to the Clara Burgess Trail sign, where you have that maze of roads and trails.

Also, I had trouble with Ferranti's directions for picking up the Earl Henderson Trail. Ferranti tells you to walk 0.25 miles up the wash from where you park, then pick up a 'Palm Springs Trail' on the left. I suppose it is there, but I ended up doing cross-country up to the Earl Henderson trail. Then later made a short scouting trip, where some locals steered me to the proper way to do it. Walk about 5 minutes up the left side of the wash; cross the paved street on your left, about where you see some wooden posts on the other side; walk a few more minutes up the other side of the street, and then you see a very proper trail that is the beginning of the Earl Henderson Trail. It switchbacks up the hill to the junction with the Shannon Trail.

I found it frustrating to wander about confused in what is a relatively small and very open area. But it was a good place to hike while recovering from a cold/flu.
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Florian » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:19 am

Ferranti's directions and maps are horrible. Funny thing. A couple of weeks ago i found at the Araby trailhead a ripped out page from Ferranti's book showing the hike to Murray Hill that someone must have dropped. Heaven help them.
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Re: Hiking Murray Hill as a Loop

Postby Wildhorse » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:49 pm

Most hikers who love the land in the desert mountains would never want to reveal its secrets in a tourist-type hiking book. Maybe that is why so many hiking books are bad.
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