We enjoyed it so much that when we go back to the park, doing this hike again is on the top of our list. If you want a trail with great views but without the crowds, try the Warren Peak trail, which is tucked away in the quiet western part of the park. The heat of the desert can be unforgiving and dangerous. Also consider the InReach Mini as a backup resource for navigation. One of the best short day hikes in Joshua Tree, the 0.25-mile loop through the Cholla Cactus Garden is a must-see for every Joshua Tree visitor. What do hikes, giant sloths, Mormons, and the desert all have in common? From the peak, you get panoramic views of Joshua Tree National Park. Park rules allow you to camp anywhere along the western side of the trail. Difficulty: ModerateLength: About 3 miles, loopElevation gain: About 375 feetTime: About 1.5 to 3 hoursTrailhead: Cottonwood Spring parking area. To return to the trailhead, simply retrace your steps. You need even more water if you hike. In brief: The absolute best way to experience Joshua Tree, this three-day hike tours a huge portion of the park. Difficulty: ChallengingLength: About 6.3 miles, out and backElevation gain: About 1,110 feetTime: About 3 to 5 hoursTrailhead: Black Rock Campground. We are Dhara and Kishore. Read our detailed article on the best places to stay in and around Joshua Tree National Park. At the start of the hike, you will pass through Cottonwood Springs Oasis, a lush landscape with tall California fan palms. The Boy Scout Trail is 8.0 miles long one-way trip with 1,190 feet of elevation gain. If you’re up for the challenge, there are more strenuous likes along ridgelines as well. Backpacking the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) is like a mini thru-hike of Joshua Tree National Park. From summits with epic views to washes and canyons that lead down into otherworldly oases, you can really appreciate the uniqueness and diversity of Joshua Tree National Park on foot, hiking its many trails. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time! I’ve hiked this trail several times in both directions and always marvel at the solitude, even during busy times like fall and spring. You will start climbing almost immediately, and the ascent is fairly steep. On this loop, you will also see the remains of the Mastodon Mine. He charged miners a fee to process their ore and remove the gold. Yes. While rain and snow are relatively rare, wind and extreme heat can be issues in Joshua Tree. Start at Cottonwood Spring and walk through the oasis into the desert beyond. Arguably the most popular hiking trail in Joshua Tree National Park, Hidden Valley Trail is a beautiful nature walk through scenic masses of boulders and lots of local vegetation, from pinyon pines to Joshua trees. Whenever I want to experience wilderness in the park, this is one of the first trips that come to mind. It looks like a skull and is one of the most notable named boulders in the park. A few more minutes on the trail, and you’ll see Tulip Rock, which looks like a cockscomb on a rooster. Stay on the trail and wear close-toed shoes and be cactus-aware. Joshua Tree National Park is one of Southern California’s iconic parks, known for its trails and hikes. If you do encounter a snake, give it lots of space, be patient, and let it slither away. It corresponds with a locator map, so you can identify the named boulders and peaks in the area. Located in the park’s remote southeast corner, the 7.2-mile round-trip hike is one of Joshua Tree’s very best. Please check the websites of destinations you plan to visit beforehand if you decide to travel. Located smack in the middle of the park, the Cholla Cactus Garden is accessible from three different entrances. A must-hike trail in Joshua Tree is the Ryan Mountain Trail. To make this a challenging hike, you can continue on and complete the Lost Horse Loop trail, about 6.5 miles total. The ridge has lots of barrel cactus, which look pretty when in bloom, some time in April or May. When I’m visiting during warmer months, I’ve found it’s ok taking short hikes early in the morning, sticking to trails near campgrounds. Invest in a light and easy-to-carry daypack to stow food and other supplies. Be sure to sign in at the backpacker’s permit registration board along with your anticipated dates out. We’ve walked this trail every time we’ve visited Joshua Tree National Park, because in a short, easy trail, you get to see a great representation of the park’s signature features. When I’m staying at the other campgrounds, I’m sure to leave home with many gallons of water or fill up jugs in town with enough water for the night (plus any water I need for day hikes). Hike to the summit of Ryan Mountain. See map. During shorter winter months, return to your vehicle by 4 p.m., and hike during the day, when it is brighter and warmer. Black Rock Canyon is known for having some of the densest groves of Joshua trees in the park. Pin it for later! To return, retrace your steps, being watchful about staying on the main trail. Although you won’t see a lot of Joshua trees on this strenuous desert hike, it’s the spectacular landscapes, desert hiking experience and beautiful destination that make this one of the best Joshua Tree hikes. To avoid contact with snakes, never put hands or feet into rock crevices or places where you cannot see. Check out this premium Garmin Fenix 6 (you can buy it on Amazon or you can buy it on REI), or the more affordable Garmin Instinct (buy on REI or Amazon). Hiking is undoubtedly one of the most popular things to do in Joshua Tree National Park. Barker Dam This 1.5-mile loop visits a small foreign-looking reservoir within the Wonderland of Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park. Keep climbing until you get to the sign that marks the top of the 5,457-foot Ryan Mountain. There’s also a lot of cultural history to explore, including a few abandoned mines. An interpretative sign makes it easy to identify nearby points of interest, including Skull Rock in the distance. This Joshua Tree National Park hiking trail takes you to the summit of Ryan Mountain, where incredible views of the landscape below await. ), disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer, headlamp or flashlight, and a pocket knife. Of all these Joshua Tree National Park hiking trails, this is definitely my personal favorite. Only two of the campgrounds — Black Rock and Cottonwood –have water and flush toilets available. Other trails can be quite rocky. We haven’t included super short trails in this article, but if you are visiting for the first time, don’t miss the stroll through the Cholla Cactus Garden, or the short trail to Arch Rock. I like that this hike is one of the few trails of its length in the park that visits juniper forest, too. Please try again, or contact us at support@57hours.com and we’ll resolve the problem. While it’s never a good idea to leave valuables in a parked car at a trailhead, I’ve generally found Joshua Tree trailheads to be safe. However, Joshua Tree can be dangerously hot during the summer. Definitely not a time to be hiking in the desert. Download and print the map of Joshua Tree National Park before you arrive! But the trail is also known for another colorful incident: it was the scene of a Wild West duel, with a stone marking the demise of the unfortunate loser of the gunfight. It’s one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree for learning about the park’s past. Not only is the sun less intense early or late, you will also have better light for photos, and a better shot at seeing birds or animals. © 2020 It's Not About the Miles Travel Media LLC. Enjoy local history? Unlike some national parks, I don’t have to worry about wildlife break-ins, so I usually leave some celebratory car snacks and beverages (including plenty of water) to enjoy after my backpacking trip. With this backstory, I consider this trail one of the finest ways to get into Joshua Tree National Park hiking. Beyond the oasis, the trail (which is also the trail to Lost Palms Oasis) starts a gradual ascent, with views of yucca and ocotillo. Artist's Palette and Artist's Drive in Death Valley National Park: Why You Must Go! The Barker Dam Nature Trail visits one of the largest historic reservoirs in the Park — built more than a century ago by the Barker & Shay Cattle Company to support cattle ranching in the park. Keys was put into prison, but released five years later. Maps and signs make it easy to add on spurs. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in our emails. Joshua Tree backpackers can self-register for free at 13 different trailheads. Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing place to explore, and here are a few fantastic hikes that prove the point: Arch Rock Nature Trail, 0.3 mile: Walk from White Tank Campground to a natural arch, through a maze of other rock formations with abundant spots to scramble around and crannies to explore. The trail placement and information placards were designed by students from the local Morongo Unified School District to highlight what they found to be some of the neatest rocks in the area. The Ryan Mountain hike leads to a high-up point that offers superb panoramic views of the landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park. The trail itself is an elevated wooden platform designed to protect the cactus and your feet from impacting each other. You can find her at www.eathomas.com or @lizthomashiking and Facebook. From the trailhead, the trail ambles its way gradually upward, with views of Joshua trees and yucca, and boulders. Summer daytime temperatures in the park get over 100 degrees on a routine basis. So while you will see lots of Joshua Trees towards the start of the trail, the later stretches are notable for pinyon pines, oak, and juniper. Check out our curated list of the best Joshua Tree Airbnb stays or our overview on where to stay when you visit Joshua Tree National Park! There, you’ll find Barker Dam (and if it’s early in the season or been a wet year, Barker Lake). From the summit, you will see Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio towards the southwest, and Lost Horse Mountain to the south. The Panorama Loop is a killer place for epic panorama photos, and while I hate to admit it, I always stop at the top for something Instagram-worthy. There’s even a stone marker to show where Keys killed Worth Bagley in a land dispute shoot out (he spent five years in jail but was deemed innocent). Consider the cut-off point for this hike March or April, depending on the season — go much later and the daytime temps will making hiking … Liz “Snorkel” Thomas shares her intel on the best short hikes, long hikes, and backpacking spots in Joshua Tree National Park — a place with some of the most diverse and interesting geology in the U.S. She’s also got tips and helpful information you’re going to want to know before you go. The trail gradually slopes down the other side of the hill, and eventually arrives at the oasis. The mountain is in the middle of the park, so the views extend in every direction. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. On your way to the mine, you’ll pass the ruins of Wonderland Ranch, rusted cars, and an old windmill that pumped water for the mill. You can also access this trail from the Wonderland of Rocks Trailhead, which offers access to Barker Dam (2.15 miles round trip). Although the park is open 24 hours a day, some trails can only be walked between sunrise and sunset. Most people find it easier to drop a car at Indian Cove and then drive to the West Entrance. The best Joshua Tree hikes: The beautiful Cholla Cactus Garden The cactus garden looks out the vast desert and surrounding mountains which turn a beautiful golden colour on a clear morning. Be sure to buy a bundle or two in town before heading to your campsite. Mono Lake Tufas: How (+ Where) to See Them! Our tours and guided hikes are the product of a love for off the beaten path places and a deep knowledge of the Desert. As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Difficulty: Easy to easy-moderateLength: About 1.1 miles, loopElevation gain: About 50 feetTime: 30 minutes to 2 hoursTrailhead: Barker Dam Parking Area along Park Boulevard, see map. At the end of the hike, pass petroglyphs that tell of the Native American history. Liz Thomas is thru-hiker and guidebook author best known for breaking the women’s self-supported record on the Appalachian Trail. You can stop along the way to take photos you missed on your way up! It worked by first having miners cart ore to the top of a mill. Difficulty: ModerateLength: About 4 miles, out and backElevation gain: About 550 feetTime: About 2 to 3 hoursTrailhead: Dirt road off Keys View Road, about 2.4 miles from Park Boulevard. The trail is flat and easy, and makes its way through sandy desert, dotted with desert plants. Scan the rocks for bighorn sheep, especially early or late in the day. Bring a warm sleeping bag. You can buy the annual pass online at REI. Next, you’ll see Split Rock in the distance, which has a narrow fissure dividing its upper half. I’ve found plenty of flat spots for multiple tents in the numerous sandy washes along the trail (but be sure to watch for flash floods). History buffs will enjoy scouting the relics of mines and ranches from a … Layers are a good idea, because it can be cooler (and windy) at the top in the colder months of the year. She hopes to share her love of the Golden State with you, and help you find your own exciting experiences here. Although this is the most popular backpacking trip in the park, the Boy Scout Trail still feels isolated and remote, even just a few miles from the trailhead. Parking can get full quickly, so arrive early in the day to snag a spot. Follow the edge of the lake and then drop into a Joshua tree and yucca-filled valley. Named after the bizarre, spiky looking tree (more on the Joshua tree here), Joshua Tree National Park is home to an unique and diverse ecosystem that is best explored on foot. We wear the La Sportiva brand cuffed hiking boots: they are not heavy, they are waterproof, and they are super comfy. Technically a lollipop loop, the trail starts and ends on a sandy wash by the Blackrock Backcountry Board. Hidden Canyon was reportedly a hideout for cattle rustlers in days past. As there are many historic artifacts here, it’s important to leave what you find. Joshua Tree Cholla Cactus Garden | 4K Walking Tour. The Boy Scout Trail is one of the best backpacking trips in Joshua Tree National Park. Located in the Colorado Desert in the southern part of Joshua Tree National Park, Lost Palms Oasis Trail is a long out and back trail to the largest concentration of fan palms in the park. Amateur astronomers flock to Joshua Tree, bringing telescopes for campsite-side stargazing. Peak season, according to the Park Service, is October through May. Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, or looking for a gentle nature walk, Joshua Tree has options for all kinds of visitors. Getting back down is simply a matter of retracing your steps. You’ll slowly meander your way through towards peaks that provide excellent views of the National Park. This classic Joshua Tree day hike is a loop that takes you past three of the park’s famed giant monzogranite boulders: Split Rock, Tulip Rock, and Face Rock. Distance: 7.2 miles. Planning a trip to Joshua Tree and wondering where to stay? Sign up for the 57hours newsletter and join our growing community of outdoor adventurers. See map. 12 Amazing Death Valley Hikes (+ Tips for Hiking in Death Valley National Park!). The Panorama Loop is 6.5 miles round trip with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. While the mine is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, I like the Wall Street Mine Trail for the fun artifacts along the way. Another nice perk of this trail is that it ends by dropping into a Joshua tree and yucca-filled valley where petroglyphs can be found not far from the path. What You Need to Know Before Visiting Joshua Tree National Park, Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike. Campfires are not allowed outside of the Joshua Tree campgrounds. Barker Dam was built as a reservoir to hold drinking water for cattle during the early days of ranching in the area. Ambitious hikers and backpackers occasionally experience the trail as a 16-mile out-and-back, but most hikers do it as a one-way trip because there is no water along the route and you must carry everything you need. Difficulty: EasyLength: About 1.5 miles, out and backElevation gain: About 100 feetTime: About 1 to 2 hoursTrailhead: Off Queen Valley Road. Take Canyon Road to Fortynine Palms Canyon Road. The trail is particularly beautiful in the spring, with lots of wildflowers. The trail to the top is mainly dirt, and there are stone steps to help you with the climb. This is a great go-to hike in the spring (especially if it has been a wet year) and pairs nicely with the nearby Wall Street Mine hike, which shares the same parking lot. Barker Dam is one of the best day hikes in Joshua Tree of its length (just 1.4 miles). Plus, this hike is best started early in the day, even in the cooler months, since it takes several hours. Again, hiking in the desert takes a few special skills. Don’t touch the wildlife. With a satellite subscription, it enables you to send and receive texts when there is no cell phone reception. One of the best things about this hike is how easy it is to add on spurs, like the 0.3-mile round trip path to Face Rock. Warren Peak Trail is unique because it straddles the Colorado and Mojave desert environments. This hike takes you through the Wonderland of Rocks in Joshua Tree and the trail is not all that well-marked once you reach Willow Hole. As you climb, there are incredible views of Mount San Jacinto (10,834 feet) and San Gorgonio (11,503 feet), part of Sand to Snow National Monument. As with all hikes in Joshua Tree, I’ve found loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed had to be essential for backpacking this mostly unshaded route. The Discovery Trail starts at the north side of Park Boulevard. Always check the forecast before you head out on a hike, no matter what the time of year. Before you start planning a hiking, backpacking or camping trip to J-Tree, here’s some things you’ll need to know before making your pilgrimage: One of the best things about Joshua Tree for hikers, campers, climbers, and backpackers is that its peak season is during autumn, winter, and spring. , scrambling, so arrive early or late in the day the entire year not allowed outside of thru-hike... 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