Cathedral City reportedly got its name from Colonel Henry Washington, who during a survey of the Colorado Desert in 1855 stood in Cathedral Canyon and observed that certain rock formations resembled cathedrals. It’s not a name that resonates with tourists as one of the must see places of the Coachella Valley, but its Civic Center Plaza in its Arts and Entertainment District is one of the most unique spots in the area, definitely worth a visit. The centerpiece is the expansive Fountain of Life in Town Square Park, a unique, fun, and whimsical piece, popular on hot days with people splashing around in its “sprayground.” The park is a good place to meet up for a ride around the area, with shaded benches and public art such as sculptures of musicians.
Except during the festivals, the district is enjoyable to pedal around and explore. It’s not a long enough ride on its own, but can be a destination via a detour from other rides featured in enCYCLEpedia, like Palm Springs’ Tahquitz Creek Loop via the Jenkins Trail, and sidepaths along Hwy 111 or Gerald Ford from the Rancho Mirage/Palm Desert rides.
You can also add to the ride with a hilly excursion in the Cathedral City Cove neighborhood across Hwy 111 to the south. The Cove is another of the Valley’s un-gated communities that makes for a nice place to ride without being on sidewalks or busy boulevards. However, it is very hilly so probably of most interest to the e-bikers in the easy cycling realm. Acoustic bikers enjoy the workout from the 400-foot elevation gain within 1.75 miles. You can get in several miles of enjoyable biking by making your own way around or enCYCLEpedia readers can follow the suggested route map on its website. Properties tend to get nicer farther up into the Cove. The Cove is surrounded by Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument land, and two trailheads are located at the top of the Cove as indicated. The one to the east starts as wide double track, while the one to the west is narrow sandy singletrack.
From the 1940’s until a few years before he passed away in 1998, Sinatra was an integral part of the fabric of the Coachella Valley, a very special place for him. He had four wives, three homes and many of Hollywood’s elite surrounding him while here. Although known for his legendary temper, he was also a philanthropist, contributing to local charities, and performing benefit concerts with friends such as Jerry Lewis and Bing Crosby. His “Rat Pack” friends also spent time in homes in the area, including Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Dean Martin, although an infamous 1962 kerfuffle over a JFK visit created a rift between Sinatra and Lawford, who Frank blamed for JFK’s decision to stay at Bing Crosby’s place instead, after Sinatra had made elaborate preparations.
Many of the sites of Frank Sinatra’s points of interest lie along enCYCLEpedia Southern Californiasafe(r) bike routes, so fans of the crooner can do a two-wheeled scavenger hunt to visit them. Clusters of sites are found in Palm Springs, where he first lived, and Rancho Mirage where he spent his later four decades. A bike ride combining all of these sites is about 33 miles long. Those not up for that distance can transport their bikes in between and do it in two separate rides of about 8 to 15 miles each depending on route. Route maps are posted on the enCYCLEpedia.net website Bonus Materials page for book owners, but you can of course find your own routes. Some outlying Sinatra features are not part of the tour, including his private Villa Maggio compound way up the Palms to Pines Highway in Mountain Center, and a couple of churches he was known to have visited in the valley.
Let’s start spreading the news in downtown Palm Springs where you can find Sinatra’s star on the expansive Walk of the Stars along the main drag of Palm Canyon Drive. Frank’s is located at 135 N. Palm Canyon Dr. The star was awarded for his many achievements in a ceremony on January 15, 1994 that was attended by 2,000 people. It truly was his kind of town that day. You can find other stars listed on this website or i phone users can check out this special app.
Heading north on the side streets of the Old Las Palmas neighborhood you can ride past some of his fellow rat packers’ former homes including Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Peter Lawford.
At the northeast corner of Vista Chino and Indian Canyon is the Margaritaville Resort — formerly the Riviera Resort and Spa (1600 N Indian Canyon Dr), the site of charity shows Sinatra organized featuring buddies such as Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. But, the best is yet to come…
Riding south like a Summer Wind into the Movie Colony where so many Hollywood stars kept homes, we visit Sinatra’s first valley residence. Twin Palms was designed by E. Stewart Williams and built in 1947 at 1145 Via Colusa (formerly addressed as 1148 E Alejo Rd). Frank lived here with his first wife Nancy, until their divorce in 1951, and then second wife Ava Gardner until their tumultuous split a few years later. The 4-bedroom, 7 bath, 4,500 square foot home features a pool shaped like a grand piano. This was indeed a party house with Hollywood’s A-list celebs frequenting its grounds. It was later sold, went into disrepair, was refurbished, and is currently available for rent. According to its website “Twin Palms Frank Sinatra Estate is available to rent for a variety of events including private vacations, corporate events, retreats and functions, private events and dinner parties. Commercial uses include photo, film, television, magazine and movie opportunities.”
Frank was known to frequent many of the area’s bars and restaurants, but only a handful remain. You can ride by two of them in Palm Springs. Make your way south, perhaps on the Sunrise Way side path, to Hwy 111. Make sure to stick to the side paths along dangerous Hwy 111. A block east of Sunrise check out the Purple Room in Club Trinidad, now known for its popular Judy Garland impersonator show. Previously, as its website states, “The Purple Room is where Frank, Sammy, Dean, and their pals cavorted on and off the stage in the swinging 60s.”
Next head west and then north through the Deepwell Estates district where former homes of Jerry Lewis, William Holden, and others are located. Exit via the Riverside Drive bike path and up to Baristo. At the northwest corner of Baristo and Ramon is Melvyn’s Restaurant & Lounge at The Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Rd, a hangout for Frank and buddies Jilly Rizzo, Patty Henry and Danny Schwartz, who’d sit at the bar and drink whisky. He also held his pre-wedding dinner to Barbara Marx here in 1976.
You’re now close to completing a Palm Springs loop of 9 or 10 miles. Check out other enCYCLEpedia rides to explore other areas and aspects of Palm Springs including a more comprehensive Vintage Star Tour.
The next set of stops is in Rancho Mirage, which lies east past Cathedral City, about 7 miles away. To connect the two areas you can use Tahquitz Creek Loop, then make your way to the Coachella Valley bikeway, aka the Whitewater River trail. In the future, the CV Link regional pathway will be a great option to get through Palm Springs and Cathedral City. You’ll wind up on the sidewalk along Hwy 111 or along Gerald Ford Dr, and end up at Wolfson Park, our starting point for the Rancho Mirage loop.
Located south of the T-intersection of Da Vall Drive and Frank Sinatra Drive, the small but beautiful Wolfson Park was donated by Sinatra himself to the city, and allowed it to be named for Rancho Mirage politician Michael S. Wolfson. Several parking spots are available on the adjacent street. If these are full you can start the ride a couple miles east up Frank Sinatra Dr. Turn left at the first light on Thompson Rd and park after the “No Parking” signs cease.
Near the beginning of the sidewalk that is lined with Brail Trail interpretive signs, look for a pedestal with a button on top. When you push it, Frank’s voice resounds from a speaker next to the shrubbery, talking about this park and surroundings. Also find a fountain, a drinking fountain, benches and picnic tables, but no public restrooms here.
The ~1-mile Butler-Abrams bike trail heads south from Wolfson Park along the Whitewater levee. It dips down into the usually dry Whitewater River channel (closed during and after flows) and up the other side, ending at Country Club Drive.
To the right up Country Club, across Highway 111, is Lord Fletcher’s restaurant, 70385 Highway 111, where Frank dined for 30 years in the peaceful upscale atmosphere, and held his 70th birthday party here in 1985. There’s no need to cross Hwy 111 since you’re probably not going to be eating at this dinner-only establishment during the ride. Update August 2020: Lord Fletcher’s is closed and for sale.
Our next site is Frank’s final resting place, at Desert Memorial Park, 31705 Da Vall Drive at Ramon Rd, at the north end of Rancho Mirage, but just over the border in Cathedral City. Enter off Da Vall if the Ramon gate is closed. It is closed weekends, so there’s no reason to ride up there then except for the joy of the ride itself. By cutting this out, your ride will be about 8 miles instead of 15. There’s several options to get there (see enCYCLEpedia); the most direct is back up Da Vall Dr. Sinatra passed away in 1998, and his plain headstone pictured below read “The Best Is Yet to Come,” but was recently replaced with “Sleep Warm, Poppa.” North from Ramon Rd a couple of pedals look to the right between markers B-8 and B-9. Frank’s and widow Barbara’s (d. 2017) graves are 4 and 5 stones up from the road. Fans leave mementos such as bottles of Jack Daniels or dimes on Frank’s grave at times in tribute.
Also buried around here are his prizefighter father Anthony Sinatra, his mom Natalie Sinatra who was killed in a plane crash en route to seeing Frank perform in Las Vegas, Frank’s buddy Jilly Rizzo, and composer of some of his standards Jimmy Van Heusen. Famed composer Frederick Loewe (My Fair Lady, Gigi) is also here. At the north end of the cemetery near a pretty monument garden is former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono’s stone, “And the Beat Goes On.” If you’re out of water there are water fountains near the office, and possibly restrooms if open.
Head back south on sidewalk paths that circumvent Mission Hills Country Club to reach a rare un-gated upscale community accessed via Los Alamos south of Gerald Ford Dr. Before the traffic light was installed this intersection was the site of the tragic end of Frank’s close buddy, night club owner Jilly Rizzo, who burned in his car after being hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene. Jilly lived in this neighborhood, which you can explore.
Many of the homes in the south portion of this area are along fairways of Tamarisk Country Club, including Frank Sinatra’s compound, coming up in the next section. Frank was a loyal member of this club for four decades, which opened in February 1952. Its website mentions that it welcomes “diversity,” alluding to the fact that four of the Marx Brothers and George Burns who were Jewish, helped found this club where other clubs such as Thunderbird were anti-semitic and banned Jews. A group of 65 movers and shakers started this all-inclusive club and never turned back. You can catch a nice glimpse of the course from the south end of Palm View Road.
If you’re interested in checking out historic homes and examples of mid century modern architecture in this area, here is a list. One outstanding example of a unique Tamarisk fairway home is the Val Powelson-designed home at 70551 Tamarisk Lane circa 1960:
Off of Tamarisk Lane is a cul de sac named “Andrews Circle.” The Andrews Sisters owned the homes at the end of the block. Exit this area via the thru streets such as Tamarisk Ln or Sunny Ln that lead back to Thompson Rd and Frank Sinatra Drive. Turn right on Frank Sinatra. Those comfortable riding on busy roads can cycle in the bike lane, since this will make it easier to find our last point of interest. Others can cross the street at the light and ride carefully in the winding sidewalk/bike path. In a half mile notice the gated entrance to a compound on the right at 70588 Frank Sinatra Drive. Those on the sidewalk will need to carefully walk across the boulevard to check it out after the Morningside gated entry, or just look at the photo of it below, and get a better glimpse of the property from the higher elevation. The plaque explains that Old Blue Eyes lived here from 1957 to 1995. The compound, not visible from the road, consists of a series of cottages named for his songs, a main 8,000 sf house, pool, a cottage with model trains, and other features. You can tour the property via this Huell Howser 1-hour PBS documentary. It is now owned by Canadian billionaire Jim Pattison, used for corporate meetings and retreats, but not open to the public.
Wolfson Park is just down the road, the starting point for this loop.
An option: The magnificent Sunnylands property is located nearby. Also known as the Annenberg estate, the home, grounds, and private golf course was developed by the Readers Digest magnate in 1966. It has seen an endless stream of dignitaries and celebrities over the years, including Frank Sinatra, who married Barbara Marx, his last wife, here in July 1976. The estate is open for tours (fee) with advance reservations. There is also a free facility consisting of a wonderful visitors center and elaborate gardens open to the public seasonally. Access by bike requires riding in the bike lane along busy Bob Hope Dr, where the un-signaled entrance is located halfway between Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford Drives.
If you’ve combined the ride with the Palm Springs loop, make your way back via the sidewalk along the northeast side of 111, reaching the Coachella Valley Bikeway off of the Date Palm bridge over the Whitewater channel. Another good connector is the continuous south sidewalk/bike path of Dinah Shore Dr, but just after the bridge over Whitewater channel you’ll need to make your way down a dirt path to 34th Ave to connect to Tahquitz Creek Loop. In Jan 2022 this path was not a good option due to grading at the bottom. It is slated to be paved in the future. Or, do it “your way”! Just stay safe, please.
by Richard Fox, Author, enCYCLEpedia Southern California– The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides (2021)
Updated November 2021
While bike lanes are always welcome on roadways, they don’t guarantee cyclists’ safety, especially on high-speed boulevards where they are not sufficiently separated from traffic lanes. All too often distracted or impaired motorists swerve into the lanes and collide with cyclists with disastrous consequences. The chances of an individual on a particular ride being hit is extremely low, but the 3-5 incidents per year in the Coachella Valley of the Southern California desert is enough to give pause. Cyclists that have the need for speed have no good off road bike trail options in this region compared to other metro areas, and are relegated to ride on these sometimes dangerous byways. The CV Link regional path, when completed in the next few years, will improve that situation somewhat in Palm Springs-Cathedral City and La Quinta-Indio-Coachella, but the gap caused by its banning in Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells wrecked the potential for a valley-wide path that could have enticed more cyclists off of the high speed boulevards.
More casual cyclists, like those who follow our enCYCLEpedia offerings, and are content to travel at 15 mph or less, can enjoy a much safer alternative in the Coachella Valley. Many of the valley’s sidewalks have been designated as bike paths and are a delight to ride on, with beautiful landscaping, and in the areas with large gated communities, long uninterrupted stretches. I call them “sidepaths.” Many sidepaths are not signed as bike paths but still provide an ample alternative. There’s no reason for a casual cyclist to risk being hit by a speeding car on the 55-mph boulevards when there’s a perfectly good sidepath adjacent. However, sidepaths do come with their own set of hazards, and cyclists must ride defensively, using extreme care at every crossing of a road or driveway. Attention to obstacles is also important, especially in unfamiliar territory, and although sprinklers can be refreshing on a hot day, they can also make the path slippery in places. Slow way down around pedestrians and other cyclists, announcing your approach if from behind. Helmets are highly recommended on any bike path, since you can fall over and hit your head on the concrete. What I appreciate about riding on sidepaths in this area is that my safety is more under my own control. As long as I take the appropriate precautions, I am unlikely to be severely injured, versus riding on the busy roadways where I am always wondering whether a speeding vehicle will swerve into the bike lane or do a “right hook” and hit me. In addition to sidepaths, many un-gated neighborhoods with low speed limits are enjoyable to ride through, the best of which is Old Las Palmas in Palm Springs.
For enCYCLE’s 3rd Edition (2021) I added a new ride, RM3, comprised of 10+ miles of beautifully landscaped sidepath loops around the Mission Hills Country Club area of north Rancho Mirage. Along that route alone there have been 3 fatal bicycle accidents on the adjacent roadways in recent years. That inspired me to research other fatal bike accidents to see whether there were alternate off-road paths adjacent or safer routes nearby. Not to say that the victims would have selected to ride on sidepaths versus the roadways, but it illustrates that for the casual cyclist, safer options are available. For every fatal accident there are numerous accidents resulting in injury, but there was not enough information available to report on those incidents. Following are some of the reported fatal accidents since 2007 where safer enCYCLEpedia alternatives exist:
March 28, 2021 73 year old lndio resident William Mohan was struck on Avenue 48 about a quarter mile east of Jefferson, around noon. No details were published regarding where on the road this happened. Ave 48 has both ample bike lanes and sidepaths as shown on the latest enCYCLEpedia maps, all the way from Washington to Monroe and beyond. Casual cyclists will more likely be safer sticking to those sidepaths and crossing very carefully with traffic signals at intersections, than riding with traffic, even in bike lanes. Mr. Mohan may have been trying to make a left turn into the unsignaled Outdoor Resorts property.
April 14, 2020 William Camp, 62, of Palm Springs, was killed at 4:05 p.m. on North Gene Autry Trail near Vista Chino, after being struck by a big rig. No details were available as to where he was on the roadway when he was struck. On rides across Palm Springs, we use bike-friendly Via Escuela, then transition to the wide sidepaths along Gene Autry rather than riding on that busy road. To head south on the Gene Autry bike path along the airport stick to the west side, or to connect to the CV Link, carefully cross with the Via Escuela light to the east sidepath, then to the south sidepath along Vista Chino, to the east (left) to reach CV Link (enCYCLE ride PS4). In 2020 there were several other bicycle fatalities in the valley, but enCYCLE does not have alternate paths at those locations in Coachella, Desert Hot Springs and Thousand Palms. The same holds true for other years.
October 21, 2019 At 9:20 p.m. 30-year-old Raymundo Jaime of Desert Hot Springs was killed in a hit-and-run crash on South Palm Canyon Dr near Mesquite Ave and Morongo Rd in Palm Springs, leaving a widow and young daughter. This road is dangerous enough during the day and is not recommended at night. Take alternate routes like Belardo or through the Deepwell district if possible (PS1, 2).
September 9, 2019 65-year old Thereseem Smith of Palm Desert was cycling on the northbound sidewalk of Hwy 74 south of Haystack at 7:45 a.m. when a car from the opposite direction veered across lanes and jumped the west sidewalk to strike her in a freak accident. Our ride options for this area are mainly on service roads and sidewalks on the east side of 74. This shows that although sidewalks are safer from high-impact collisions with vehicles than roadways, it’s not a guarantee.
April 5, 2019 Palm Springs resident Jack Peterson, 77, was struck by a northbound vehicle while riding his bike east across Bob Hope in the crosswalk on Casino Way toward Agua Caliente Casino at 1:30 pm. It is not known if the vehicle blew through a red light there. enCYCLEpedia doesn’t recommend riding along busy Bob Hope in that area. There is a so-so all-sidewalk route using Varner and Monterey connecting to rides RM1, 2 or 3 (see Bonus Map RM3 on enCYCLEpedia.net.)
March 25, 2019: Alberta snowbird Paul Jackson, 67, riding along the Hwy 111 shoulder near Cook in Indian Wells, crashed into a parked minivan. What resembles a bike lane is actually just a wide shoulder with parking allowed, although since vehicles are rarely parked along there it seems like a Class II lane. Sidepaths run along both sides of Hwy 111 (enCYCLE ride IW1). I have been told that bike riding on the sidewalk paths are “functionally allowed” in Indian wells (i.e. cops will not hassle well behaved cyclists). The city removed the Bike Route signs along the south sidepath a few years ago, most likely for liability reasons (Photo, below). Extending the CV Link regional path through Indian Wells would get a lot of cyclists off both the roads and sidepaths, but the city has banned CV Link within its boundaries.
March 23, 2019: This is not the Coachella Valley, but is a nearby Riverside County enCYCLE ride used as illustration: Family man and outdoorsman Brian Sabel, 52, was the victim of an early morning hit-and-run in an ample bike lane along beautiful and historic Victoria Avenue in Riverside. This road is very popular with road cyclists and seems like a safe place to ride. However, enCYCLE ride R2 uses the adjacent paved Class I Rosanna Scott Bike Trail instead, which is much safer.
December 13, 2018: William Campbell, 32, a local avid cyclist, was struck in the Ramon Road bike lane near Rattler in Rancho Mirage by an alleged street racer traveling close to 95 mph. New enCYCLE ride RM3 is along a wide sidepath adjacent to the bike lane, although the path does not continue east past Los Alamos.
May 14, 2018: Diana Lynn Young, 61, was struck in the bike lane of Country Club Drive in front of the Marriott Desert Springs resort in Palm Desert where she worked. enCYCLE rides RM1, RM2 and PD1 all use the beautifully landscaped sidepaths available on both sides of Country Club through there. They continue for miles in both directions. I sometimes rode in the bike lanes through here to get a good sprint going, until this incident.
April 2, 2018: BC Snowbird Peter Harvey, 74, was hit in the bike lane on Bob Hope Drive near Ginger Rogers in Rancho Mirage. New enCYCLE ride RM3 is along the pretty designated bike/golf cart path along the west side of Bob Hope between Gerald Ford and Dinah Shore.
June 26, 2017: Larry Lee Ortner, 81, hit a parked landscaping truck when gliding down the Avenida Bermudas hill in La Quinta Cove. While this seems to be a safe road to ride on, always watch out for what is in front of you, even in a bike lane. We prefer to ride both up and down the paved Class I Bear Creek Trail (enCYCLE ride LQ1) in The Cove instead to avoid vehicular traffic and enjoy the great scenery in both directions.
February 7, 2015: Todd Barajas, 52, was struck while riding late at night on Hovley Lane near Corporate Way, where there is no bike lane. However, there is an ample sidepath along the north side of the road. This is an alternate route to Country Club when riding enCYCLE ride RM2.
January 6, 2015: Rose Peters, 73, a cycling enthusiast who’d ridden cross country several times and was using a hand-cycle because of hip replacements, was broadsided while riding in the Hwy 74 bike lane in Palm Desert by a vehicle turning left onto Mesa View, which is one of the routes to The Living Desert. enCYCLE’s ride in that area (RM2) uses Hwy 74’s frontage road and corresponding sidepaths rather than busy Hwy 74, but that still involves side street crossings that require extra caution because of turning vehicles.
November 30, 2012: Corey Holley, 38, was struck along South Palm Canyon at Palmera (near Stein Mart). This road is not safe. Much better alternatives now exist along South Belardo Rd to the west between downtown and South Palm Springs, or through the Deepwell District (enCYCLE rides PS1, PS2).
June 2, 2012: Gerald Weiss, 52, a well respected physician and family man, was hit on very dangerous Fred Waring Drive west of Eldorado, in traffic lanes after dark. Indian Wells lost a lawsuit because the road was determined to be unsafe, and as a result erected signs banning bikes along there. It’s not an enCYCLE recommended stretch because the sidewalk alongside Fred Waring between Eldorado and Cook is narrow, though it still is rideable. We detour south, down Class II Eldorado to the 111 sidewalk paths, and back up on the Cook sidewalk path to avoid this stretch that CV Link would otherwise bridge if not banned in Indian Wells (rides IW1, RM2).
April 8, 2012: Donald McCluskey, 49, was on Da Vall waiting at the red light to cross south past Ramon in Rancho Mirage when a minivan heading north blew through the red light, was hit by a westbound vehicle on Ramon, and overturned onto McCluskey and the vehicle next to him. Our new ride RM3 uses the east sidewalk of Da Vall at that location on both sides of Ramon, which would have been out of the line of fire in this case. However, in situations with sudden catastrophic vehicle crashes, cars can just as easily end up on a sidewalk or bike path, so vigilance at all times can’t hurt.
December 4, 2010: Joseph P. Szymanski, 56, was the victim of a hit-and-run midday while riding westbound in the bike lane on 54th between Madison and Jefferson in La Quinta. It would seem like a safe road to ride on, but I guess not. Since that time the bike lanes have been widened (photo) with a little more protection. We use the pretty landscaped sidewalk along the south side of 54th for enCYCLE ride LQ2, and pay careful attention if sprinklers make the sidewalk wet and slippery. La Quinta has since upgraded many of it’s bike lanes to be more separated from the traffic lanes, and we do ride on those, such as along Madison between Ave 54 and Ave 58.
March 7, 2007: Athlete Kim Raney, 26, on vacation from Washington, fell off her bike and was hit by a truck while riding on Hwy 111 in Cathedral City. enCYCLE feels Hwy 111 is too dangerous to ride on. All of our rides that encounter Hwy 111 are either on sidepaths alongside it, or via alternate routes. This includes PS1 – PS4, CC1, RM1, and RM2. The CV Link path will add some great alternatives to riding along Hwy 111 for all cyclists, although it is hindered by its boycott by the cities of Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells.
The easy scenic cycling adventures of Richard Fox, author of the 2014 (2nd Ed 2017, 3rd Ed 2021) guidebook "enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides."