Trail Running in Palm Springs – The North Lykken Trail (by Gary)

The North Lykken Trail – Three Miles: One and a half up, and one and a half down

“It’s hot as a bitch.  I shoulda been rich.” –Chinese Rocks by The Ramones

I start the run with Joey Ramone yelling in my ears things I already know.  It’s 98 degrees and I’m going for a run.  “Hot” of course is relative.  It’s been a warm summer, so a double digit day is a running day.  It’s early yet though.  It will hit 108 later in the day.

An map showing the mountain path with a red line indicating the trail path

Aerial Map of the trail.

The trailhead to The North Lykken Trail is at the very west end of Ramon Road in Palm Springs, approximately 4 miles from The Monkey Tree Hotel.  Take Ramon until you run into the mountain.  You can park along the road right in front of the trailhead.  This portion of the North Lykken trail is a well maintained single track trail with some great views of Palm Springs.  There are only a couple of trail markers, but they aren’t really necessary.  All you need to know is that the first mile and a half is up.  And they’ll be plenty of pain-in-the-ass switchbacks to make any masochist happy.  There are some patches of loose dirt/rocks in the beginning of the trail, but it is all runnable.  You cover approximately 830 feet of elevation (over 1000 cumulative feet) in the 1.5 miles up.  This is a good hill workout (both ways).

A sandy path up in the mountains with green shrubbery on either side.

Like switchbacks? Super! It feels like the first quarter mile is straight up (and it probably is), but then turn around and this is a nice view.

At the top (and the turnaround point) you’ll get to an elevation of over 1300’.  And the views are pretty cool.  (Do you think they built the picnic tables first, then dragged them up there, or do you think they lugged the boxes up and assembled them at the top?  Don’t know which would suck more.  Anyway, it’s a nice place to sit before heading back down.)

Two picnic tables on top of a mountain with a view of a town below and blue skies above

Suck it, Leo. I’M the king of the world!

“Hey! Ho! Let’s go!  Hey! Ho! Let’s go!”  Blitzkrieg Bop, The Ramones

Just enough time to throw down a Hammer Gel, and Joey’s in my ear again telling me it’s time to get going.  We all know that aid stations can be the ultimate time-suck, so I better start moving.  There’s nothing more inviting in the middle of the night that a hot cup of soup and a chair, but the problem can be that it’s TOO inviting.  And right now the temp is rising, my legs burn a little and I’m sweating like…like…well, like I’ve been running uphill in the desert.  This picnic table feels really comfortable right about now.  Thank God Joey’s here to get me going.

Back home in the Northeast, two water bottles could get me through 10-12 miles during the summer.  Here, I’m a mile and a half in and I only have one bottle left.  Electrolytes, water, fuel, etc. all take on heightened importance when it feels like your toes are cooking inside your trail shoes.  Now back down, which is faster, but I wouldn’t say that much easier.  It’s a different kind of effort.  In places I’m not so much running as I am “falling with style”*.  I’m down in half the time it took me to ascend, but my quads are now on fire.  Fun.

This portion of the North Lykken Trail is a quick out and back and a very good hill workout.  Very good for a short run.  Need more miles?  Run from the hotel to the trailhead (four miles), then up to the picnic tables, turn around and then run back to the hotel.  Now that’s a good 11 –miler.

*Name that movie!


2 thoughts on “Trail Running in Palm Springs – The North Lykken Trail (by Gary)

  1. The original Toy Story!
    Didn’t know you were a trail runner Gary. Would have followed your example when we stayed. Next time!

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