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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

Palm Spring Trail System Created by Desert Riders

Sign at the top of the mountain for Desert Riders Park
Sign for Desert Riders Park in Palm Springs Photo by Kathy Condon

Recently, I was invited to a Desert Riders social, the annual ride and breakfast at Desert Riders Park. While approximately 20 members of Desert Riders were on horseback on the way to the breakfast, others of us were shuttled to the breakfast location high above Palm Springs.

The Setting for Desert Riders Breakfast

As a newbie, I didn't know what to expect. I was a guest of Negie Bogert, who helped me figure out what to wear. Since it will be out in the open, she said, be sure to wear a hat and comfortable shoes because we will be walking on desert landscape paths. We also brought a beverage that was added to the bar set up for people to select their drink of choice.

We exited the shuttle at the top of the mountain, where the horses would be tied while the riders ate breakfast and waited for their return ride down through the canyons.

Flat space on top of mountain at Desert Riders Park in Palm Springs with tables with checkered red and black tablecloths
Desert Riders Park Breakfast Site Photo by Kathy Condon

On the level space, I smiled as I saw tables scattered throughout the space, with red tablecloths and holiday decorations serving as centerpieces. The Desert Riders Park sign is discreetly placed on the mountain's edge.

While we waited for the Desert Riders on horseback riding through the Canyons, we had the opportunity to talk with each other and share stories of our lives.

With a guitarist and vocalist playing in the background holiday music, it was fun to watch the group occasionally join in at the chorus.

The buffet line at the picnic, people with their plates full.
Desert Riders Buffet at Social Event Photo by Kathy Condon

The breakfast buffet was created by Desert Riders and included a homemade quiche, a terrific salad, ham, and sausage, and, for dessert, fruit bars and a cake. Maybe it was because we were sitting at the tables overlooking the Coachella Valley that we are proud to call our home, but I must say it was the best breakfast buffet I have experienced in a long time.

After breakfast, a poet from Joshua Tree regaled us with holiday poems. Then he ended with a heart-pulling rendition of a poem about our flag and how it still stands today.

A Little History About Desert Riders and Palm Springs Trails

Desert Riders' history can be traced back to the 1930s. Jane Hoff, now 104 years old, was one of the original groups who said, "Desert Riders started as a way of camaraderie with barbecues and breakfast rides." She reminded us back then, there were few opportunities for social activities in Palm Springs.

Jane Hoff's father, Carl Lykken, is responsible for forming the group into an organization. The Lykken Trail was named for him on South Palm Canyon in Palm Springs. Lykken Trail is one of the most used Palm Springs hiking trails. Not only does it have beautiful views of the Coachella Valley, but it also provides excellent opportunities to spy on our famous Mountain Sheep in the wild.

Besides getting together for social activities, the mission of Desert Riders was "To Preserve Palm Springs Western Lifestyle." Remember, there were no trails; the desert was wide open with little development.

A view of Coachella Valley from the top of the mountain where Desert Riders held their picnic.
Desert Riders Park View Photo by Kathy Condon

Development of Palm Springs and Effect on Palm Springs Trails

The development of Palm Springs golf courses, hotels, and housing started causing detours of the previously wide-open land. Safety on the trails and protecting the environment became of utmost concern to the Desert Riders'.

With their diligent efforts, 28 trails were identified. These same trails have now been documented with global position equipment. Today, you can get a map of these trails at the Palm Springs Historical Society.

Desert Riders Trail Foundation Formed in 1972

Recognizing it was becoming impossible to maintain all the Palm Springs trails, Desert Riders formed the Desert Riders Trail Foundation, a non-profit organization. Soon, the Trail Council included the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Game Department, National Park, the City of Palm Springs, Palm Springs hiking groups, Palm Springs biking groups, and equestrian clubs.

Cowboys arriving for breakfast at the Desert Riders Park
Desert Riders Arriving at Park for Breakfast Photo by Kathy Condon

More About the Desert Riders Event in Palm Springs

If I hadn't been invited to the event at the top of the mountain, my curiosity and the goal of wanting to share with you, I wouldn't have delved deeper into the history of the Desert Riders. So, I am most appreciative. I learned more about Palm Springs's history.

It was a wonderful experience being reminded the roots of Palm Springs began with the cowboys and wranglers who brought their cattle to the area. The present-day Desert Riders continue to carry a wonderful tribute to this way of life. Many of them no longer ride, but if you take the time to sit down and listen to them, you will have a new appreciation of the stories that they had to share about life here before we became known as a tourist community.

This writer especially appreciates Negie Bogert, who continues to be my mentor in learning about Palm Springs, which I am happy to call my home. Plus, I now understand that the Desert Riders are responsible for the hiking trails in Palm Springs and all of the trails in Palm Springs that continue to attract people from all over the world.

Kathy Condon, Travel Writer in white shirt and wear big gold beads.
Kathy Condon Journalist and Travel Writer

Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in larger cities' shadows.     760-902-3094


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Dec 15, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you Kathy for taking interest in our western history 👍

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