Murray Canyon Falls (Seven Sisters Falls)

Agua Caliente Indian Reservation / Palm Springs, California, USA

About Murray Canyon Falls (Seven Sisters Falls)


Hiking Distance: 4 miles round trip; many creek crossings
Suggested Time: 2.5-3.5 hours

Date first visited: 2017-02-11
Date last visited: 2017-02-11

Waterfall Latitude: 33.74425
Waterfall Longitude: -116.5521

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Murray Canyon Falls (also referred to as the Seven Sisters Falls or the Seven Falls) was a series of waterfalls and minor cascades within Murray Canyon.

Of these waterfalls, the uppermost pair that we encountered were the most impressive.

Murray_Canyon_163_02112017 - Murray Canyon Falls
Murray Canyon Falls

The penultimate waterfall was a split waterfall of about 15-20ft high.

The main one that we saw (as shown above) was a pair of falls each at about 10-15ft plunging one after the other.

Although we avoided the desert heat by doing this hike in the Winter time, we could totally see the appeal of this place when the temperatures would rise.

Indeed, Murray Canyon certainly seemed to fit that stereotypical definition of a desert oasis.

Experiencing Murray Canyon Falls and the hike to get there

Murray_Canyon_079_02112017 - Julie traversing one of countless crossings of Murray Creek in high water during our visit to Murray Canyon Falls
Julie traversing one of countless crossings of Murray Creek in high water during our visit to Murray Canyon Falls

Julie and I went on a bit of an adventure to access the Murray Canyon Falls.

Indeed, this adventure took quite a bit of effort to reach, especially when you compare the much easier Palm Springs Waterfall experience in the nearby Tahquitz Falls.

This adventure included ruining our hiking boots as we had no choice but to wade right through the dozen or more crossings of Murray Creek.

Each of these creek crossings were at least ankle to shin deep when we did this hike in mid-February 2017, which was a year of unusually high rainfall in the Southland.

Murray_Canyon_130_02112017 - Julie having no choice but to go right across Murray Creek en route to the Murray Canyon Falls
Julie having no choice but to go right across Murray Creek en route to the Murray Canyon Falls

Yet with all the inconveniences, Julie and I found Murray Canyon to be a very scenic hike.

We passed through desolate high desert terrain right at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Then, we followed groves of fan palm trees lining Murray Creek while being towered over by unusual rock formations lining Murray Canyon itself.

Overall, it took us about 2 hours to get from the trailhead to the end of the official trail at Murray Canyon Falls.

Murray_Canyon_136_02112017 - This end-of-trail sign didn't deter most people from getting all the way up to the Murray Canyon Falls
This end-of-trail sign didn’t deter most people from getting all the way up to the Murray Canyon Falls

By the time we returned to the trailhead, we wound up spending about 3.5 hours away from the car.

Given the conditions of our hike, in hindsight, we should have brought our trekking poles as well as water sandals.

This was not the kind of excursion to let water into Gore-tex boots where the water had nowhere to escape except when I’d lift my leg to let the water out through the top.

So the water weighing down our shoes probably caused us to move even slower than our already slow pace.

Murray_Canyon_069_02112017 - The hike to Murray Canyon Falls was shared with horse traffic, which might have actually been a great time to use them given the high flow of Murray Creek on the day of our hike in February 2017
The hike to Murray Canyon Falls was shared with horse traffic, which might have actually been a great time to use them given the high flow of Murray Creek on the day of our hike in February 2017

Either way, the entire hike was said to be about 4 miles round trip.

We were told that there were about a dozen stream crossings, but I swore that we might have counted a few more than that.

Finally, Murray Canyon Falls was said to be a seasonal waterfall.

Therefore, the best time to visit would be when snow from the San Jacinto Mountains would melt and drain into Murray Canyon.

Murray_Canyon_178_02112017 - Murray Canyon was very scenic with beautiful sandstone closing in on fan palms thriving in the desert oases provided by Murray Creek
Murray Canyon was very scenic with beautiful sandstone closing in on fan palms thriving in the desert oases provided by Murray Creek

In other words, mid-Winter through Spring would be the seasons to visit though the longevity of the creek would depend on how much precipitation would have accumulated in the mountains.

Obviously during a drought (like in the past few years prior to 2016 and 2017), the window of opportunity to visit the falls when it would be flowing would be even more diminished or non-existent altogether.

Murray Canyon Falls Trail Description – from Andreas Canyon to Murray Canyon

The Murray Canyon Falls hike began from an unpaved palm-tree-fringing trailhead parking area signposted for Murray Canyon (see directions below).

The trail then proceeded to gently descend from Andreas Canyon into a seemingly desolate flat desert area where the majority of the vegetation didn’t seem to grow any higher than one’s waist.

Murray_Canyon_019_02112017 - Julie hiking a very dry and open section of the Murray Canyon Trail, which went from Andreas Canyon to Murray Canyon
Julie hiking a very dry and open section of the Murray Canyon Trail, which went from Andreas Canyon to Murray Canyon

Such sparse and low-lying vegetation made it seem like this would be the last place to find a waterfall.

However, this was merely an interlude to get to the Murray Canyon itself.

This flat stretch, which lasted about a half-mile, was open enough that we noticed some interesting rock formations sticking out amongst the low-lying shrubs.

Meanwhile, we were also able to look to our right at the San Jacinto Mountains rising majestically above the basin.

Murray_Canyon_029_02112017 - Julie approaching the thick grove of fan palm trees near the first crossing of Murray Creek about a half-mile into the hike
Julie approaching the thick grove of fan palm trees near the first crossing of Murray Creek about a half-mile into the hike

Eventually, the trail approached a thick line of palm trees flanking Murray Creek.

Murray Canyon Falls Trail Description – hiking up Murray Canyon to the first major waterfall

The Murray Canyon Falls Trail descended towards the first crossing of the creek, which had a lot of water when we did this hike.

We had overheard locals say they had never gotten their shoes wet on this hike before, which underscored the rather unusual circumstances that we found ourselves in.

In any case, immediately after the creek crossing, the trail reached a fork near some kind of solar-powered vane.

Murray_Canyon_035_02112017 - After the first crossing of Murray Creek, we then took the trail continuing upstream alongside the creek to go deeper into Murray Canyon
After the first crossing of Murray Creek, we then took the trail continuing upstream alongside the creek to go deeper into Murray Canyon

We kept right at the fork to follow Murray Creek and the row of palm trees where we now could see the San Jacinto Mountains straight ahead of us.

In the mean time, we could also see some more impressive rock formations back across Murray Creek to our right.

Shortly after a brief spell of dry hiking, we then reached the second creek crossing of Murray Creek.

This particular crossing was definitely deep enough to get our hiking boots wet over the top.

Murray_Canyon_062_02112017 - The Murray Canyon Falls hike took us within the depths of the sandstone canyon while surrounded by California Fan Palm Trees
The Murray Canyon Falls hike took us within the depths of the sandstone canyon while surrounded by California Fan Palm Trees

After this crossing, the creek crossings would persist pretty frequently for the remainder of our time within Murray Canyon so we had to get used to walking with ruined hiking boots.

Continuing in this manner for the next 1.5 miles, the path would momentarily split and rejoin as there were horse paths leading to deeper but flatter and less-rockier creek crossings.

There was also another trail junction where horse tours would deviate from Murray Canyon for good.

Roughly the first mile or so would be shared with horse traffic from time to time.

Murray_Canyon_073_02112017 - The first mile of the hike to Murray Canyon Falls involved sharing the path with horse traffic
The first mile of the hike to Murray Canyon Falls involved sharing the path with horse traffic

As the canyon walls would continue closing in, the creek crossings became even more frequent and trickier.

Meanwhile, we’d frequently encounter minor cascades amongst Murray Creek (typically on the order of around 5-10ft or less).

Even when we resigned ourselves to getting wet at each creek crossing, we still had to choose our steps wisely amongst the submerged rocks so as to not get in too deep in Murray Creek, especially where there was a current.

Eventually, we’d reach a point where the trail then climbed fairly steeply along the canyon walls while skirting around the first major waterfall in Murray Creek.

Murray_Canyon_201_02112017 - A big rock splitting the first of the major Murray Canyon Falls
A big rock splitting the first of the major Murray Canyon Falls

Prior to the climb, there was an informal detour past a creek crossing to get to the base of this waterfall.

The falls appeared to be split by a giant rock into a thin multi-tiered cascade on the left side and a 10-15ft plunge on the right side.

Of all the dozens upon dozens of hikers partaking in this popular excursion, not many of them made this detour to the base of this first falls.

Murray Canyon Falls Trail Description – continuing towards the main waterfall

That said, the first falls was not the main waterfall so we definitely didn’t stop and turn around here.

Murray_Canyon_119_02112017 - Julie continuing to cross Murray Creek upstream of the first major waterfall we saw in the creek (which was split by a large boulder) en route to the Murray Canyon Falls
Julie continuing to cross Murray Creek upstream of the first major waterfall we saw in the creek (which was split by a large boulder) en route to the Murray Canyon Falls

Indeed, the next falls was even more impressive than this one.

So as we resumed the hike and climbed above the first falls, we managed to get partial glimpses of that first waterfall down below.

Given the overgrowth in the ravine below, the trailside views of the first falls left a lot to be desired.

Once the climb ended, the Murray Canyon Trail would resume with roughly three more creek crossings further upstream.

Murray_Canyon_158_02112017 - Direct look at the main part of Murray Canyon Falls
Direct look at the main part of Murray Canyon Falls

After the last of the creek crossings, the trail then rounded a bend before finally terminating at the main Murray Canyon Falls.

Murray Canyon Falls was a two-tiered waterfall where the first falls had a wide block-type appearance while the upper one had a bit of a plunge.

To get up to that upper waterfall, we saw about a dozen or so folks make the dicey-looking scramble up a steep sandstone slope to get past the lower plunge of the falls.

Julie and I weren’t comfortable taking that risk so we opted to stay before the lower waterfall and bask in our accomplishment as well as the ambience of the place.

Murray_Canyon_143_02112017 - Context of some people willing to make the daring scramble to get past the lower drop of the main Murray Canyon Falls
Context of some people willing to make the daring scramble to get past the lower drop of the main Murray Canyon Falls

After having our fill of the Murray Canyon Falls, we then made the uncomfortable hike back to the trailhead, where our feet were very pruny when we finally got back to the car.

Authorities

Murray Canyon Falls is on private property in Palm Springs of Riverside County, California. It is administered by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website.

Murray_Canyon_005_02112017 - At the trailhead parking area for the Murray Canyon Trailhead, which was actually in Andreas Canyon
Murray_Canyon_007_02112017 - The Murray Canyon Trailhead
Murray_Canyon_017_02112017 - Looking back at the Murray Canyon Trailhead Parking, which was actually in the lush Andreas Canyon, which was also full of California Fan Palm Trees
Murray_Canyon_013_02112017 - The initial part of the hike to Murray Canyon involved going through some pretty desolate desert as we had to get from Andreas Canyon to Murray Canyon
Murray_Canyon_021_02112017 - Julie passing through the flat desert part of the hike to Murray Canyon after having left the trailhead at Andreas Canyon
Murray_Canyon_023_02112017 - With so much flatness around in the first half-mile of the Murray Canyon Falls hike, rock formations like this one really stuck out
Murray_Canyon_030_02112017 - Julie approaching the first crossing of Murray Creek as we were now in the mouth of Murray Canyon
Murray_Canyon_031_02112017 - The first crossing of Murray Creek was actually not bad as we were able to rock hop our way across, but little would we realize that further up the canyon, staying dry was futile
Murray_Canyon_034_02112017 - Julie now hiking upstream along Murray Creek with some neat rock formations to our right and the San Jacinto Mountains up ahead
Murray_Canyon_036_02112017 - Looking towards some of the canyon walls of Murray Canyon as we continued between the first and second crossings of Murray Creek
Murray_Canyon_038_02112017 - Approaching the next crossing of Murray Canyon as other hikers were headed back in our direction
Murray_Canyon_041_02112017 - Looking back towards the oasis of fan palms at the first crossing of Murray Creek as we were pursuing the next crossing
Murray_Canyon_044_02112017 - Another look back towards the first crossing of Murray Creek where we got this gorgeous view of rocks and palm trees fronting mountains
Murray_Canyon_046_02112017 - Julie about to re-join the grove of fan palm trees flanking Murray Creek as we were approaching the second crossing of Murray Creek
Murray_Canyon_048_02112017 - This was the second crossing of Murray Creek
Murray_Canyon_049_02112017 - After the second crossing of Murray Creek, our shoes were already wet but we still tried to keep to the dry paths within Murray Canyon
Murray_Canyon_050_02112017 - This was the third crossing of Murray Creek though Julie initially tried to find a different way across (the effort was futile)
Murray_Canyon_052_02112017 - Julie continuing along the shared horse and foot trail in Murray Canyon alongside Murray Creek in high flow
Murray_Canyon_055_02112017 - Context looking back at the fan palm trees after having crossed Murray Creek a few times by now
Murray_Canyon_056_02112017 - Parts of the Murray Canyon Falls Trail had split into a horse trail (right) and the foot trail (left).  This would persist for roughly the first mile as that part of the trail was shared with horses
Murray_Canyon_058_02112017 - Julie approaching what I believe to be the fourth crossing of Murray Creek
Murray_Canyon_063_02112017 - Julie about to cross Murray Creek again (maybe the fifth time)
Murray_Canyon_064_02112017 - Looking ahead at a group of horseback riders in Murray Canyon as we continued hiking towards the Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_078_02112017 - More interesting rock formations in Murray Canyon during our hike to the Murray Canyon Falls or the Seven Falls
Murray_Canyon_081_02112017 - One of the small cascades on Murray Creek during our hike to the Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_086_02112017 - Julie about to go across the seventh crossing of Murray Creek
Murray_Canyon_087_02112017 - With all the adventure of doing the Murray Canyon excursion, sometimes we had to pause and take in the beauty of the canyon itself
Murray_Canyon_091_02112017 - Looking upstream at another small intermediate waterfall on Murray Creek within the narrowing Murray Canyon
Murray_Canyon_095_02112017 - Context of Julie evaluating the best way to make the eighth Murray Creek crossing while there were people coming in the other direction across the creek
Murray_Canyon_099_02112017 - I believe this was the ninth crossing of Murray Creek. As you can see, there was no point in trying to stay dry by now
Murray_Canyon_101_02112017 - The Murray Canyon Falls Trail was getting increasingly rougher as Murray Canyon was Continuing to close in
Murray_Canyon_102_02112017 - Julie evaluating how to get across Murray Creek at around what I think was the 10th or so crossing of it
Murray_Canyon_105_02112017 - This group of hikers seemed to have come prepared with trekking poles for balance as well as some water shoes as they had no trouble navigating the Murray Canyon Falls Trail
Murray_Canyon_109_02112017 - To get past the first of the 'major' Murray Canyon Falls, we had to go up this steep climb
Murray_Canyon_110_02112017 - Looking down at a partial view towards the first of the Murray Canyon waterfalls as we continued to hike further upstream
Murray_Canyon_114_02112017 - Looking back at Murray Canyon from somewhere near the top of the first 'major' Murray Canyon Waterfall
Murray_Canyon_117_02112017 - Continuing to hike alongside Murray Creek as we pursued the main Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_121_02112017 - Some intermediate cascades along Murray Creek between the first 'major' waterfall and the main Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_127_02112017 - Context of Julie continuing to push further upstream before some more intermediate cascades on Murray Creek
Murray_Canyon_131_02112017 - Julie continuing to push further upstream towards the Murray Canyon Falls as the trail became less defined and behaved more like a boulder or stream scramble
Murray_Canyon_134_02112017 - On the Murray Canyon Trail after the last of the crossings of Murray Creek
Murray_Canyon_140_02112017 - Finally arriving at the Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_157_02112017 - Closeup look at the main Murray Canyon Falls though we wouldn't attempt to scramble past this first tier
Murray_Canyon_162_02112017 - Contextual look at the main Murray Canyon Falls adorned with some California Fan Palm Trees
Murray_Canyon_167_02112017 - If we had settled for the official end of the trail, then this would have been the view of Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_166_02112017 - After having our fill of the Murray Canyon Falls, it was time to start hiking back
Murray_Canyon_173_02112017 - Now on the return hike from Murray Canyon Falls as the sun was breaking through
Murray_Canyon_180_02112017 - Checking out one of the split segments of the first 'major' waterfall on Murray Creek as I detoured to check it out on the way back
Murray_Canyon_196_02112017 - This was another part of the first of the Murray Canyon Falls after going on a short detour
Murray_Canyon_197_02112017 - Another look at the other half of the first of the Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_206_02112017 - More Murray Canyon scenery though by this point, we were eagerly anticipating being able to take off our soaked-through (and heavy) shoes
Murray_Canyon_209_02112017 - With the sun out, the hike back from the Murray Canyon Falls was warming up
Murray_Canyon_214_02112017 - Julie almost back at the third or second crossing of Murray Creek on the return hike from Murray Canyon Falls
Murray_Canyon_216_02112017 - Julie continuing to hike alongside the California Fan Palms of Murray Canyon on the return hike
Murray_Canyon_218_02112017 - Almost back at the first crossing of Murray Creek as Murray Canyon opens up once again
Murray_Canyon_224_02112017 - Back at this gauge near the first crossing of Murray Creek, which is now the last crossing of the creek on the return hike
Murray_Canyon_225_02112017 - Julie on the open part of the hike between Murray Canyon and Andreas Canyon near the end of our return hike
Murray_Canyon_227_02112017 - Continuing with the desert part of the return hike from Murray Canyon as we can start to see Palm Springs in the distance
Murray_Canyon_229_02112017 - Looking up towards the San Jacinto Mountains as we were approaching Andreas Canyon where the trailhead was
Murray_Canyon_233_02112017 - Finally making it back to the trailhead parking for Murray Canyon at Andreas Canyon
Murray_Canyon_235_02112017 - Back at the trailhead parking for Murray Canyon inside the mouth of Andreas Canyon. Now we were finally about to change out of our heavy and ruined-from-soaking hiking boots!

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To get to Murray Canyon Falls from the intersection of North Palm Canyon Drive, South Palm Canyon Drive, and Tahquitz Canyon Way in downtown Palm Springs, we started by driving south on South Palm Canyon Drive for about 1.5 miles.

We then kept right at the fork in the road to remain on South Palm Canyon Drive and drove for the next 2.7 miles to the Indian Canyons kiosk.

Murray_Canyon_001_02112017 - Before entering the Agua Caliente Reservation Land, we had to patiently wait our turn to pay the entry fee to continue on
Before entering the Agua Caliente Reservation Land, we had to patiently wait our turn to pay the entry fee to continue on

At the kiosk, we paid our $9 per adult fee (as of 2017) to get in.

Shortly after the kiosk, we then followed the signs for Murray Canyon, which was the first right at the next junction.

We then drove about 0.8 miles to the Andreas Canyon Pride Rock Picnic Area and Parking Area.

However, we then continued driving past a bridge and onto an unpaved road leading to the Murray Canyon Trailhead in another 1/4-mile or so.

Murray_Canyon_240_02112017 - Context of the Murray Canyon Trailhead parking, which was actually within Andreas Canyon next to the so-called Pride Rock
Context of the Murray Canyon Trailhead parking, which was actually within Andreas Canyon next to the so-called Pride Rock

Overall, this drive took us about 40 minutes, but half of that time was spent waiting in line to get past the Indian Canyons kiosk.

For context, Palm Springs was roughly 2 hours drive east of downtown Los Angeles pretty much along the I-10 Freeway before heading south on the Hwy 111 just past Cabazon and the Morongo Casino.

Full 360 degree sweep showing the area right at the end of the trail before the main Murray Canyon Falls


Checking out the lower pair of Murray Canyon Falls from a few different angles right at its base

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Tagged with: murray canyon, palm springs, waterfall, riverside county, agua caliente, indian canyons, seven sisters falls, san jacinto, swimming, oasis, desert



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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