Desert Hiking & Climbing Trails

Joshua Tree National Park


Boy Scout Trail: 16 miles roundtrip.Difficultly, moderate. Trailhead is located at the Indian Cove backcountry board or Keys West Backcountry board 1/2 mile east of Quail Springs picnic area. The Boy Scout Trail is a scenic trail through the westernmost edge of the Wonderland of Rocks. See backcountry board for information on overnight use.

California Riding and Hiking Trail: Thirty-five miles of the California Riding and Hiking Trail pass through the park. Access to the trail is at its junction with Covington Flats, Keys View, and Squaw Tank (Geology Tour) Roads at Ryan Campground; south of Belle Campground; and near the north entrance to the park. This allows for shorter hikes of 4, 6, 7, or 11 miles. Two to three days are required to hike the entire length of the trail within the park.

Oasis Hunting In Joshua Tree National Park I had a simple goal: hike to every oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.  I would do it alone.  It wasn’t that I desired solitude.  It’s just that nobody wanted to come with me.  It was, potentially, going to be an arduous vacation. By the time I pulled into the Cottonwood Visitor Center I knew that, according to the National Park Service’s website, out of 158 desert fan palm oases in North America, Joshua Tree claims all of five. 

Fortynine Palms Oasis: 3 miles roundtrip, 2-3 hours. Difficulty level is moderately strenuous. Starting Point begins at the parking area at end of Canyon Road, 4 miles west of Twentynine Palms off Highway 62. The trail will take you to an oasis where several stands of fan palms, evidence of past fires and pools of water are found. The plants in this area are especially fragile, so walk lightly.

Geology Tour Road: The road turns south from the paved road 2 miles west of Jumbo Rocks Campground. The distance from the junction to Squaw Tank is 5.4 miles. This section is mostly downhill but bumpy and shady. Starting at Squaw Tank, a 6-mile circular route can be taken that explores Pleasant Valley. A guide is available at the beginning of the road.

Lost Horse Mine Trail: 4 miles roundtrip, 3-4 hours. The difficulty level of this trail is moderately strenuous. The trail starts at the parking area 1.2 miles east of Keys View Road. The trail takes you to the site of Ten-stamp Mill and foundations. Summit elevation, 5278 feet.

Lost Palm Oasis: 7.5 miles roundtrip, 4-6 hours and the difficulty level is Moderate to Oasis overlook, then strenuous. The trail begins at the Cottonwood Spring or Cottonwood Campground. The trail takes you to a canyon with numerous palm stands. A side trip to Victory Palms and Munsen Canyon involves boulder scrambling.

Mastodon Peak Trail: 3-mile roundtrip, 2-3 hours, difficulty level is moderate. Trail begins at the Cottonwood Spring or Cottonwood Campground. On this trail you will see excellent views of the Eagle Mountains and Salton Sea. Summit elevation is 3371 feet.

Queen Valley: A network of roads, totaling 13.4 miles, cross this valley of boulder piles and Joshua trees. A bike trip can begin at Hidden Valley Campground or at the dirt road opposite the Geology Tour Road. Several bike racks have been placed in this area so visitors can lock their bikes and go hiking.

Ryan Mountain Trail: 3 miles roundtrip, 2-3 hours, and the difficulty level is moderately strenuous. The trail begins at the Ryan Mountain parking area or Sheep Pass Campground. On the trail you will see excellent views of Lost Horse, Queen and Pleasant Valleys. Summit elevation is 5461 feet.

Source: Joshua Tree National Park


Video Geology Tour Road:


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