Santa Rosa Mtns
(Martinez Mtn and Rabbit Pk)

Revised June 2010 - please send updates to the webmaster

home See Driving Directions > Sonora Desert for context and how to get here.
info GPS waypoints: download GPX file
Between Palm Springs and the Salton Sea I-10 passes through the Coachella Valley. These two peaks are south of I-10 but have little in common except geography. The DPS Guide driving instructions are needlessly complicated - apparently some new roads have been built since they were written! Below are simple routes which worked well in 2010. If you're climbing both peaks, you can take Hwy 111 between Indio and Palm Desert instead of going out to I-10.

For trailhead details, scroll down for directions to Martinez and Rabbit.
For climbing details, see my 2010 trip reports for Martinez and Rabbit.

Overview Map, see details below:

Rabbit Peak - GPS Route RABBIT PEAK - See the overview map above!

If you're heading east on I-10, take the Hwy 86 Spur exit east of Indio. If you're heading west on I-10, you'll need to use the Dillon Road connector (waypoint DILJ10) to cut southwest over to the Hwy 86 Spur. Either way, head southeast on Hwy 86S (incorrectly labelled Hwy 111 on some maps and not there at all on other maps) from waypoint DIL86S. Don't confuse the 86 Spur which is a limited access freeway, with Hwy 86 which is stop and go through small towns. Exit on 66th Ave about 11 miles southeast from Dillon Rd (waypoint H86J66). There are few exits and canals block some roads, but 66th Ave is a major road also marked as Hwy 195.

Go 1.1 miles west on 66th, crossing a canal, then turn left (south) on Pierce St (waypoint PRCJ66). Go 4 miles south on Pierce, then turn right (west) on 74th Ave (waypoint PRCJ74). Go 1 mile west on 74th and continue across an odd angled stop-sign intersection with old Hwy 86, where the road sign says you're crossing Harrison St. Immediately turn left (south) on Fillmore St (waypoint FILJ74). NOTE: It is possible to get to this intersection taking Hwy 86 south from the Dillon exit in Indio, as per the DPS Guide, but it would be far slower due to development and surface streets.

Take Fillmore south until it dead-ends at an orchard (waypoint RABATH). As the road rises to go over a levee, a gate blocks the road. Orchard workers may leave the gate open at times, and if it is you could physically drive over the levee and continue with 4WD up the sandy channel, but that appears to be a very bad idea since the gate is sometimes locked and it's obviously private land. Turn left (east) just before the gate to enter a parking area behind some palm trees (waypoint RABATH). This trailhead is 80' BELOW SEA LEVEL.

This parking area is the very unsecure-feeling trailhead for the DPS Guide's Route A on Rabbit. Sometimes this parking lot is full of orchard worker vehicles, other times it is deserted and isolated. As of 2010, Google Earth shows no gate on the levee and a building in the parking lot... Google's satellite picture must be pretty old, but it does imply you're parking on private land. Getting permission might be wise. Please send details if you know where to get such permission.

For details of climbing Rabbit from this trailhead, see my 2010 trip report. It is sometimes combined with Villager Peak and approached from the other side, starting in Anza Borrego.

Martinez Mountain - GPS Route MARTINEZ PAVED and MARTINEZ MTN

Exit I-10 at Monterey Ave (waypoint MONJ10), east of Palm Springs. Follow Monterey south roughly 6 miles to where it crosses Hwy 111 (waypoint MON111) and turns into Hwy 74 (aka. the Pines to Palms Hwy). Continue south as Hwy 74 climbs up into some radical switchbacks. Take your time here and use the vista point pullout (HWY74V) to gaze across Deep Canyon southeast to Martinez Mtn.

About 21 miles from the freeway, or 15 miles from where you cross Hwy 111, there is a fire station with parking areas on both sides of the highway. At the west end of the parking strip, 100 yards from the fire station, there is a small unmarked dirt road which leaves the Pines to Palm Hwy going south (waypoint PPFIRE). If you have a 4WD, this is where you turn south (the purple line on the detail map above).

If you have a passenger car, continue a third of a mile west to the small sign indicating a left turn (southeast) to the Sawmill Trailhead (waypoint PPSAWJ). It's not obvious from near the turn but there is a small sign BEFORE the turn indicating there is a Pinyon Flats Campground north of the highway. Turn southeast and follow a paved road another third of a mile (the green line on the detail map above is a GPS track log), then turn left (east) into the parking area at a Sawmill Trailhead sign.

Detailed trailhead map, see also the overview map above.

The passenger car trailhead (waypoint MAR2WD at 4k) is at the east end of a paved loop with split rail fencing and lots of room (and presumably lots of weekend partiers, based on the leftover glass bottles). This lot may not be the same one described in the DPS Guide. There are no facilities here. From the parking lot, a sign directs you toward the Cactus Spring trail and the Sawmill Trail. Walk a very badly rutted 4WD road east to intersect the better 4WD road (at waypoint MAR4W2), then follow it south as described below.

You can save over 2 miles of round-trip walking if you have a 4WD, but it's better to skip the 2WD trailhead parking lot. The purple line on the detailed map above is a GPS track log for the 4WD road. Leave the Pines to Palms Hwy at the unmarked dirt road described above (waypoint PPFIRE), driving over a dirt hump next to an old abandoned gate. Jog left at the first junction (waypoint MAR4W1), and go straight (south) past the deeply rutted connector to the Sawmill Trailhead (waypoint MAR4W2). 200' uphill from that connector is a signed junction (waypoint MAR4W3) for the Cactus Spring going left (east), and the Sawmill Trail going straight (south). We went straight, but it looks like you could follow the Cactus Spring trail from here.

0.6 miles from the highway is a critical corner that's unmarked and hard to see (waypoint MAR4W4). Going straight here takes you uphill to destinations unknown, turning left (east) here takes you down to the Dolomite mines and the 4WD trailhead. We turned right (southeast) at a T intersection 1 mile from the highway (waypoint MAR4W7), then immediately took a right fork (waypoint MAR4W8) on a very narrow road. This road goes southeast through a parking area (waypoint MAR4W9) where you could turn left to the mines, but the road goes on so we went straight (east) to the actual 4WD trailhead 1.3 miles from the highway (waypoint MAR4WD at 3.9k). Here there is a parking area and an old trail sign with all the markings weathered off.

For details of climbing Martinez, on a good trail most of the way, see my 2010 trip report.

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