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Wells without Water...
Indian Wells was the local name for the numerous old mortar holes hammered into the rock ledges in the surrounding washes used by the natives of the area for processing seed. The road leading up to these washes carries the name. The traditional Indian Wells Trail starts up at the space museum and terminates at a marked highpoint just 1/2 mile from the trailhead. This version of the hike starts instead down on Indian Wells road, and climbs up along the wash below the Space Museum, connects with the official trail, then continues on up to connect with the Jeep road portion of Mineral Springs trail, following in back down to the drainage and back to Indian Wells Road.
The hike begins from the parking area, walking east and up to the top of the levee. Your goal is to move over and into the wash towards the museum. You will have to cross the steeply eroded old drainage ditch; there is no clear trail, just move down into the wash and keep moving north and east following the main channels. The route moves nicely up a narrow, rocky drainage, eventually up a solid rock cascade and under the national forest fence line. Shortly after this point, staying with the drainage, you will intersect the official trail. Follow it around and to the right.
At the end of the official trail, follow the path east around and over a number of side drainages. The once well marked route will begin to dwindle. Look for cairns, ribbons, rocks... there is a path, but it will become harder and harder to follow. You will move across a number of steep drainages, eventually angling more south. Finally, you will climb up the last steep bank, intersecting Mineral Springs Jeep road access. Turn right and walk back down the hill to the old levee area. Again, there will not be a clear path across to the levee... just take your best shot heading for the obvious area of the Indian Wells Road intersection.
You will have a nice downhill view of the foothills all during this hike; you cannot get lost, but you can get misplaced. At any time you can simply walk down and out any of the drainages.
This alternative approach to the traditional Indian Wells hike allows for an earlier start (don't have to wait for the gates to the museum to open) and they make this more of a "real" hike.
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Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.