Top O-The World At Flag Mountain – Desert Hot Springs, CA

A postcard from the mountain top

Apart from the fabulous sunsets one of the things I really love about the desert in the winter is hiking and when the conditions are right it’s one of the best solo adventures you can have. I do some of my best thinking while I hike (as does pooch, no doubt) so it always puts us at ease with the world….and gives me fodder for blog posts.

Well conditions finally got right. After almost 10 days of sizzling hot weather here in Desert Hot Springs the temps finally broke a couple of days ago. It was not an easy transition. The desert is a moody gal and made her summer exit in grand style by knocking us around in with a massive wind-storm before finally, begrudgingly, letting the winter climb in.

Flag Mountain summit

So yesterday morning the sunrise dawned to a brand new world. Cool valley temps (50 °F =10 °C), brilliant blue skies and not a gust of wind in sight. As soon as I opened that window Polly and I looked at each other and knew it was time to go hiking. There are actually a ton of really cool hikes to do around Desert Hot Springs. Unfortunately many of the better known spots, such as the Indian Canyons are barred to dogs which obviously makes them a no-go for us, but lots of the mountains are crisscrossed with hidden trails plus there are county preserves (Mission Creek & Whitewater Trail) which are pooch-friendly.

But one of my fav spots is a ~6-mile round-trip to Flag Mountain right here from the RV park. I discovered it last year from some Canadian RV neighbours and it’s become one of my absolute favorite hikes in the area. Not only is it well hidden, but it’s strenuous enough to give you a good workout and leads to a fabulous view of the entire valley from the top.

So Pooch and I headed out to conquer the trail with a spring in our step and the warm morning glow of the desert sun at our backs. We had the entire mountain to ourselves and took our fine time getting to the top. The valley of Desert Hot Springs and the surrounding cities stretch for miles providing a seemingly endless flat landscape dominated by the lovely 10,834 foot San Jacinto Mountain in the background. It’s a glorious feeling -> hiking in the still winter air, breathing in the dry scents and watching the horizon drop beneath us.

Panorama from the glorious summit

When we finally got to the top we were elated and spent. The summit flag had seen a year of unrelenting desert winds and was a mere ghost of her former glory, but it was still exciting to see her mark the top. And despite my hopeless sense of direction we made it the entire way (and back) with nary a miss-step on the trail (well, there was that ONE side-trail I accidentally took in a completely contrary direction on the way home, but these are but minor details).

The sign from the top of Flag Mountain
Taking in the view from the trail
Taking in the view from the trail

A great morning, a fine hike and the beginning of my beloved desert winter. Life is good today!

P.S. For directions to Flag Mountain see my post from last year HERE. For those w/ a GPS the mountain part of the hike starts at approx. 33.935785,-116.434275 (you can walk thro’ the desert from Sam’s Spa right to the start of the hike).

Walking the ridgeline
Who knows the stories that are buried here?
Take the unknown path, says the trail
Just another gorgeous trail view
The beginning of the trail is marked with these small flags
Posing on the trail
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. Lee and Shelia says

    Wonderful hike and writings and yes envious. Question you said at one point you don’t have the best sense of direction, do you carry a GPS? Or do you rely on Polly? LoL…..

    • libertatemamo says

      You know carrying a GPS would make PERFECT sense which is naturally why I’ve never had one….wouldn’t you know. Usually Polly manages to get me straightened out, or I somehow wonder back to the right path. Paul always tells me he has no idea how I managed to get around before i met him :)

  2. says

    Hi Dina
    First off I didn’t care for Jack’s comment at all.
    Sounds like you are going to have nice weather we are going from high 60s to day to 30s tomorrow.
    My wife Murlene was wondering if you always have your cats on a leash when you take them out. We have a 11 yr old cat that we brought back from Sweden that will be going with us when we start full timing.

    • libertatemamo says

      We usually put the cats on a leash, just in case, although our one cat (Rand) usually just stays by the door. So, if we’re somewhere safe we sometimes leave her off. Neither cat will wander terribly far from the RV and we always supervise them. In case you’re looking for a harness I really like the HDW Walking Harness. We “trained” them when they were already ~6 years old and it took a while to get the cats used to it, but now they will actually sit at the door and wait for me to put it on so they can go out.

  3. Sherry Fields says

    Sitting here looking out my classroom window at a cold, RAINY fall day in Kentucky and wishing I could have joined you on your hike! Beautiful! Thanks for allowing me and my students with disabilities to see more of the world through your posts and pictures! Can’t wait to show them the next stop of “Where in the World in Nina?” :)

    • libertatemamo says

      Well I’m glad I can bring a little sunshine into your classroom, if only for a while :) Happy to have you all along for the ride. It sure is nice to have the company of you and your students! Say “hi” to them from me!

  4. says

    Hi Nina, Wanted to tell you we took your recommendation on McDowell Mountain Regional Park to heart and are enjoying our stay immensely! We got one of the outside edge sites on the South loop and are happy as can be. Most excellent mountain bike ride this morning! Thanks again!
    Lisa (and Hans)

    • libertatemamo says

      I do indeed…AND she never gains weight…AND she never needs to worry about a swimsuit :) Her doggie life is good!

  5. Else Ireland says

    Love your blog. What RV park are you staying in, at Desert Hot Springs? My hubby, pooch and myself will be there next mnt. Would be fun to meet you. Enjoy. Happy hiking, Else.

    Sent from my iPad

    • libertatemamo says

      We’re staying at Sam’s Family Spa. It’s got GREAT hot pools and very good monthly rates plus the desert is right outside the door for walking doggie. It’s our fav park in the area.

  6. says

    Love that picture of Polly walking along the trail with her tail high in the air. She is obviously having a grand time. Glad you have her to get you back on the right path, should you stray!!

    • libertatemamo says

      True…the dog is probably more reliable too :) Even with a GPS (in the car) I manage to get lost sometimes.

  7. says

    Nina: Debby, Maria, Brian, and I hiked the Flag Mountain trail today. Thanks for the tip. It was incredible. Ernie (their dog) was pooped when we got home and we hit the hot springs. Great day.


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