Change of Plans


I thought the 11-mile Hopalong Cassidy trail was dog-friendly. But it turned out only part of it is. I may have confused myself from reading too many different trail reviews that morning.

Winter Hike #6: Palm Desert, CA

I headed out to hike the Hopalong Cassidy to the Bump and Grind. But, when I got to the trailhead, there was a sign for no dogs. You should’ve seen my face.

Reluctantly, I turned us around and headed back to the car while searching for a backup plan on my phone. Then, a man’s voice caught my attention, “Are you looking for a trail where you can take your dog?”. I looked up, “Yes..” I wasn’t 100% comfortable talking to this stranger. “I don’t know why they don’t allow dogs on this trail. Well, I know.. but it’s stupid.” Then he continued, “Some people ignore the sign and take their dogs. If you want..” “No, I’d rather not. .”, I interrupted politely. He nodded. He tried to give me directions to the nearest trailhead where we can go. But it was complicated to explain so he decided to lead us there himself. We followed him on foot. He seemed like a nice man but I still had my guard up.

Would Xena attack him if something bad to happen? Probably not. She probably expects me to protect her. Doesn’t she know why I wanted to name her Xena, the “Warrior” princess? 😕 But then again, she wouldn’t have let him near us if she didn’t like his energy.

After about 0.8 miles of wandering, we finally arrived at the Gabby Hayes Trailhead in the Cahuilla Hills Park. It was nice of him to take us there.

We mostly talked about hiking and dogs, of course. 🙂 It turned out that he was going to do the hike I originally planned to do. Running into us on his way to the trailhead changed his plan but he didn’t seem mind since he’s already done it many times before. He showed me pictures of his late beloved dogs (both beautiful Rotties) and shared his experience of hiking Mt Whitney (twice!) including his encounter with a bear 3 times during the night while camping. Then he tried to convince me that camping is fun. 😂

We both had no idea when we drove to the trail that our plans were about to be altered. Michael’s kindness made my day. I hope I brightened his day a little too. 🙂

Details on the Hike:

  • Take Gabby Hayes Trail. Then turn left on to Hopalong Cassidy Trail. Stay on it until you get to the cross. It’s out and back.
  • Total distance is about 3.5 miles even though we hiked 4.9 miles.
  • Elevation Gain:  752 feet
  • Dogs on leash
  • Restroom available at the trailhead

Get Our Latest Comprehensive Dog-friendly Trail List Here. Enjoy!

Happy Hiking!

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5 comments on “Change of Plans”

  1. I really wanted to hike desert palms when i recently visited california but didnt have time. It is so awesome to meet great people like that on the trail. I remeber the first time i summited a mountain and i about gave up and this man in his late 60s encouraged me to continue and hiked the last bit with me! Happy Trailing!

  2. What a nice gesture to show you two the trail! 🙂 That’s all it takes to make a bad day good! (I am also a bit sceptical if stranger contant me and I am on my own…you never know!) Looked like you had a good hike after all, the scenery looks very nice. Very different than up here:)

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