South Lykken Trail to Simonetta Kennett Vista Point Overview
In early April, my wife and I took a short drive over to Palm Springs from San Diego for a short weekend "Staycation". I have hiked up and around San Jacinto Mountain, and taken the tram up before but I had never actually stopped in or explored Palm Springs.
Most of our trips together usually focus on hiking or backpacking. This trip we decided to hang out by a pool, and enjoy some fun drinks and delicious food... but we couldn't stay 100% mundane. So to add a little adventure to our staycation we decided to pick a trail to check out. Looking around, we found Tahquitz Canyon! We drove up to it, but being one of the more popular trails in Palm Springs, it was closed because there were too many people already on the trail. That's pretty much my worst nightmare when hiking, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise because we ended up having an amazing experience on South Lykken trail meeting some local wildlife!
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South Lykken Trail to Simonetta Kennett Vista Point is a fairly short out and back hike of just over two miles. South Lykken Trail is about a 1 mile climb up to Simonetta Kennett Vista Point which treats you with a wonderful view of Palm Springs!
South Lykken Trail to Simonetta Kennett Vista Point Map
The Caltopo map above for South Lykken Trail can be viewed and downloaded here. The trailhead can be found on Google Maps here.
There is no dedicated parking lot for the South Lykken Trail Head. Parking was along the street on South Palm Canyon Drive, but it is limited. My wife and I had to park on Bogert Trail Road and then walk over to the trailhead.
South Lykken Trail Guide
Once you have parked there is a good chance to start off on the wrong trail, which we almost did. When you get near the trailhead there is a dry riverbed. You want to take the trail on the right of the riverbed when looking west. South Lykken trail starts off between this dry riverbed and a housing development.
With all the rain that we received in California this year, early April was a fantastic time of year to do this hike! It wasn't too hot and the wildflowers were absolutely blooming!
South Lykken Trail starts off very flat for the first 0.4 miles. The trail here is well groomed and fairly wide except for a few small sections. The flat desert allows you to see far into the distance and you get a glimpse of your impending climb on the trail ahead. If you look closely in the picture below you can see the faint outline of the trail up towards Simonetta Kennett Vista Point. The trail up does not have many switchbacks, and is just a steady climb the entire way.
As you continue towards the base of the climb upwards the trail slowly gets a little more rugged. You will know when it's time to start the harder part of this hike when you come across the large metal sign that says "Carl Lykken Trail".
At this point you haven't hiked too far, but it's not a bad idea to take a quick sip of water. We went on a fairly mild Palm Springs morning, and it was starting to get pretty warm. There is also absolutely zero shade on this hike so plan accordingly with lots of sunscreen or a good sun hoody!
As the climb begins, watch your footing, the trail is a bit more rocky and uneven on the way up. As we slowly began the hike upwards a couple Bighorn Sheep crossed the trail just in front of us! I unfortunately didn't have the lens cap off my camera and missed them crossing the trail.
As we sat on some rocks, we got to watch the Bighorn Sheep effortlessly walk down to the flat area to our south. Since I don't carry a large zoom lens with me on my hikes I snapped a picture from afar. Look closely and you can see a Bighorn Sheep standing proud on his rock.
I have spent a lot of time in Anza Borrego State Park in California, and they apparently have Bighorn Sheep there as well but I had never had the chance to spot one in the wild there. My first Bighorn Sheep sighting was on a Cairn Leadership trip while kayaking Black Canyon. My second and probably most magical Bighorn Sheep sighting was also Kayaking, but this time over by Horseshoe Bend.
I was excited to finally see some while not kayaking, and actually on a trail. This hike would be the best Bighorn Sheep sightings I have had to date! I thought this first sighting early on our climb would be the last, but I was very very wrong! The sheep were out in masses feeding on the April morning!
After our first Bighorn Sheep sighting we continued upwards, admiring all the bright yellow flowers that were popping out from every rock all over the trail. I had never seen the desert so bright and alive before.
As we admired all the yellow flowers, it quickly became clear that the bright yellow flowers were quite delicious to the Bighorn Sheep. We took another pause along the trail when we ran into a small pack enjoying a late breakfast of bright yellow flowers.
Watching the sheep was fantastic! My wife and I love going to the San Diego Zoo and Safari park, but this was another level, not having any cages and seeing these beautiful animals out in their natural habitat. After watching our personal little nature show on the side of the trail, we continued upwards towards Simonetta Kennett Vista Point.
The trail was mostly straight as we climbed, with only a few switchbacks. As we got closer to the top, the trail made a sharp turn to the opposite direction. This was our cue that we were almost at the viewpoint. We knew we had reached the top when we saw the metal cutout sign that said, "Simonetta Kennett Vista Point."
At the top the point flattens out and there is a small trail that leads out to a wonderful overlook of Palm Springs. I almost got pride rock vibes from the Lion King as we walked out to this perch overlooking the city down below.
At the point I was once again reminded of the wet winter we recently had, the overlook was green with flowers everywhere! The view down to the city is great, but I think we both preferred the view out towards the mountains!