Day-hikes in Joshua Tree
Scenery from the Boy Scouts trail hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Region in California, United States
Joshua Tree trail map

Joshua Tree National Park, with its contorted trees and boulder-strewn landscape, is one of Southern California’s strangest and most beautiful regions. The park itself spans almost 800,000 acres at the point where two deserts (the Colorado and Mojave) meet. This magical place, studded with palm oases, natural springs, and open desert plains, is just waiting to be discovered.

Joshua Tree’s otherworldly landscapes have long attracted visitors, from gold prospectors and miners, to the Mormon settlers that gave the region its name. The strange trees that dot the landscape appeared to them as the arms of the Biblical Joshua, raised heavenwards, and the name stuck. However, today the majority of pilgrims come for the dramatic rocks and climbing routes that can be found all over the park.

The massive boulders and craggy rocks that characterize Joshua Tree National Park are the result of volcanic activity, which pushed molten monzogranite up to the surface of the earth. Over time, these rocks were cracked and weathered, creating the strange towers and cliffs that you see today. Punctuated with wild flowers and distinctive cacti, trees and shrubs, this landscape is truly out of this world.

Long sidelined in favor of California’s other natural attractions, Joshua Tree has recently become a popular destination for hiking, backpacking and rock climbing. Get in on the action and start planning a trip to this beautiful and surprising national park today!

Top 10 Hikes In Joshua National Park

Joshua Tree National Park may appear to be a stark, unforgiving landscape, but it’s actually one of the best places in California for easy, family-friendly hikes. You’ll find lots of short, flat hikes passing through the magical landscape, with plenty of attractions that will delight visitors of all ages. You’ll find beautiful nature trails, climbing routes and possibilities for stargazing – perfect for family adventures. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little more strenuous, many of these hikes can be linked together to form challenging day hikes that pass through some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. There’s a trail here to suit everyone.

  • Indian Cove Nature Loop Hike: This short trail is one of the best easy hikes in Joshua Tree National Park. You’ll pass through the desert area of Indian Cove, where you can discover the distinctive local plants and the towering rocks that litter the landscape. If you’re interested in learning how to climb, this is a wonderful place to try – consider hiring a guide to help you explore the crags.
  • Hidden Valley Loop Hike: The Hidden Valley Loop hike is very popular, and with good reason! The loop is close to the road and very short, so it’s the perfect hike if you don’t have much time. The path snakes through a gorgeous valley with some classic Joshua Tree scenery, studded with boulders and green shrubs. This hike boasts some of the finest monzogranite rock formations in the park.
  • Pine City Hike: The name of this lovely, secluded trail is somewhat misleading, as there are only a handful of pines dotting the route. However, don’t let this put you off – this trail is a wonderful place for a family hike in Joshua Tree National Park, with expansive views and interesting rock formations. The trail is mainly flat but there’s very little shade, so make sure to bring a hat!
  • Split Rock Trail Hike: This short hike is one of our favorite family hikes in Joshua Tree National Park! The trail snakes in and out of towering cliffs, imposing boulders, and strange rock formations, offering some fantastic opportunities for photos. This route is flat and easy to follow, making it ideal for younger children or visitors with mobility issues.
  • Lost Horse Loop Trail Hike: This scenic route is one of the best day hikes in Joshua Tree National Park. You’ll enjoy some wonderful views over the mountains as the trail undulates gently along the ridgeline. The loop passes by a historic gold mine, before dropping into a beautiful valley. This lovely route is a wonderful way to spend a day in the national park.
  • Warren Peak Hike: This stunning hike is one of the slightly more challenging hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, climbing all the way up to the rocky summit of Warren Peak. This wonderful hike offers a fantastic panorama over the park, and follows one of the lesser-travelled routes so you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery in complete peace. If you’re feeling energetic, you can easily add on the Panorama Loop to extend the hike.
  • Boy Scouts Trail Hike: If you’re looking for a fun adventure don’t miss this wonderful route, one of the best challenging hikes in Joshua Tree National Park! You’ll pass through expansive desert basins surrounded by small mountain ranges, rising to meet a number of exquisite rock formations. The trail continues over a number of small ridges with views down into the Indian Creek area, where you’ll enjoy a marvelous panorama.
  • Ryan Mountain Hike: Ryan Mountain is a popular peak in the center of Joshua Tree National Park, with wonderful 360-degree views. This trail is often busy, and is very exposed to the sun, so it’s best to arrive early to avoid the crowds and take advantage of the cool morning weather. The trail will take you through a wide gully with weird and wonderful rock formations, and the summit offers simply wonderful views over the region.
  • High View Trail Hike: Looking for a place to avoid the crowds in Joshua Tree National Park? Try the High View Trail, which ascends a small hill in the northwest of the park. This route is quieter than some of the other hikes on the list, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy the peace and quiet! The climb is relatively easy, but offers spectacular views over the rolling mountains and rocky slopes of this secluded corner of Joshua Tree National Park.
  • 49 Palm Oasis Hike: This wonderful hike is a local favorite, ascending to a small pass before dropping down to discover a hidden oasis. This is a great hike for older kids, who will feel as though they are uncovering a secret treasure in the desert. As the name suggests, there are a total of 49 palm trees filling the oasis, providing some welcome shade for weary hikers.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Joshua Tree National Park?

Joshua Tree National Park is open all year round, and it’s possible to go hiking here at any time. However, the best times to hike in Joshua Tree National Park are between March and May and October and November. In spring and autumn the temperatures are cool and pleasant and you’ll be able to enjoy the trails without exposing yourself to the hot summer sun! What’s more, the wildflowers are in bloom from February through April, when you can see another side of this dramatic park. In July average temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius, although the trails will tend to be fairly quiet. In winter, the trails are accessible but temperatures drop, and you may encounter snow on higher ground.

Other Outdoor Activities In Joshua Tree National Park

Although hiking is very popular, there are plenty of other fantastic outdoor activities in Joshua Tree National Park. The park is a popular spot for backpacking, with several excellent campgrounds where you can slip into slumber under a sky filled with innumerable stars. One of the best things to do in Joshua Tree National Park is rock climbing and bouldering, as the amazing rock formations and cliffs provide some incredible climbing routes. In addition to this, you can take a nature tour to learn about the wonderful flora that decorates the park, or watch the hummingbirds dart in and out of the rocks and plants. There are also many opportunities to find out about the human history of Joshua Tree, including the native Cahuilla Indians, miners and gold prospectors that have traversed this region over the centuries.

How To Plan A Trip To Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re itching to explore the strange, otherworldly landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park, don’t worry – we’ve got all the information you’ll need to plan your adventure! We’ve put together a guide to planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, with insider tips on when to go, where to stay, and how to get the most out of your trip. We’ve even come up with some ideas for how to spend the perfect day in Joshua Tree. There’s never been a better time to explore this wild, magnificent corner of California.

Frequently-Asked-Questions About Joshua Tree National Park

Is Joshua Tree National Park dangerous?
Joshua Tree National Park is a wilderness area, and so it’s important to take precautions when you’re out on the trail. In particular, many of the trails in Joshua Tree are very exposed to the sun, meaning that you’ll need to bring plenty of water and don’t hike alone. Desert wildlife and plants can also cause problems, especially for younger children, so make sure to take advice from local rangers before setting out.

Is Joshua Tree safe at night?
Joshua Tree National Park is very safe at night and indeed, is a popular spot for camping. This remarkable park is one of the best places for stargazing in California.

Are there mountain lions in Joshua Tree?
Mountain lions, otherwise known as cougars or pumas, have been spotted in Joshua Tree, although they are very shy of humans so you are unlikely to encounter one on the trail.

How did the Joshua Tree get its name?
The most famous resident of Joshua Tree National Park is the eponymous Joshua Tree itself. This slow-growing tree is an important part of the desert ecosystem. It was given its name by Mormon settlers in the mid-19th century, who thought that the tree’s strange shape was akin to the Bible story of Joshua raising his hands to the heavens in prayer.

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The best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Jumbo Rocks Campground Loop

01. Jumbo Rocks Campground Loop
Difficulty

0.8mi 39ft 0.5h

The Jumbo Rocks Campground Loop is an easily accessible and scenic route within Joshua Tree… Read More

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Skull Rock Nature Trail

02. Skull Rock Nature Trail
Difficulty

1.7mi 161ft 0.5-1h

The Skull Rock Nature Trail is a family-friendly hike just off one of the main… Read More

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Cottonwood Spring Nature Trail

03. Cottonwood Spring Nature Trail
Difficulty

1.5mi 180ft 0.5-1h

The Cottonwood Spring Nature Trail is a leisurely hike with plenty of opportunities for wildlife… Read More

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Arch Rock Nature Trail

04. Arch Rock Nature Trail
Difficulty

1.2mi 89ft 0.5h

The Arch Rock Nature Trail is an easily accessible and relatively short lollipop hike that… Read More

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Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail

05. Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail
Difficulty

0.2mi 10ft 0.5h

With a spectacular variety of cacti and other desert plants, the Cholla Cactus Garden Nature… Read More

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Scenery from the Boy Scouts trail hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

06. Boy Scouts Trail
Difficulty

8.2mi 531ft 3-4h

This gorgeous hike traverses from the range that separates the upper Pinto Basin with the… Read More

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Hidden Valley Loop Trail in Joshua Tree National Park, California

07. Hidden Valley Loop
Difficulty

0.9mi 115ft 0.5h

This very popular Hidden Valley Loop hike quickly transports hikers from the busy road into… Read More

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Scenery from the High View trail hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

08. High View Trail
Difficulty

1.3mi 394ft 0.5-1h

The scenic High View Trail loop climbs a small hill in the northwest corner of… Read More

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9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
View of the 49 Palms Oasis hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

09. 49 Palm Oasis Hike
Difficulty

3.2mi 735ft 1.5-2h

Popular with locals, the 49 Palm Oasis hike climbs over a small pass then descends… Read More

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Indian Cove Nature Loop trail in Joshua Tree, California

10. Indian Cove Nature Loop
Difficulty

0.6mi 72ft 0.5h

This short, flat nature loop takes hikers through the desert area of Indian Cove. With… Read More

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9.6Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty

Yes, there are more than 10

Joshua Tree National Park is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Joshua Tree National Park that you should take a look at as well

Scenery from the Split Rock trail hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

11. Split Rock Trail
Difficulty

2.0mi 121ft 0.5-1h

Weaving in and out of towering cliffs, slick boulders, and one of the densest collections… Read More

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9.2Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Views from the Lost Horse Loop hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

12. Lost Horse Loop Trail
Difficulty

6.6mi 915ft 2.5-3.5h

Passing by a historic Gold Mine then gaining a scenic ridge, the Lost Horse Loop… Read More

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Views from the Pine City hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

13. Pine City
Difficulty

3.9mi 341ft 1.5-2h

Though not a city, and containing only a handful of pines, the Pine City Trail… Read More

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Warren Peak hike in Joshua Tree National Park has beautiful views

14. Warren Peak
Difficulty

5.4mi 1,024ft 2.5-3.5h

This stunning, (yet lesser known) hike traverses the planes in the quiet northwestern section of… Read More

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Views from the Ryan Mountain hike in Joshua Tree National Park, California

15. Ryan Mountain
Difficulty

3.0mi 1,398ft 2-3h

This popular hike ascends Ryan Mountain, yielding fantastic panoramic views of the central park. Since… Read More

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Willow Hole Trail

16. Willow Hole Trail
Difficulty

6.8mi 246ft 2-3h

The Willow Hole Trail is a picturesque route that provides lots of opportunities for wildlife… Read More

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Pinto Mountain Trail Map

17. Pinto Mountain Trail
Difficulty

12.9mi 2,520ft 6-8h

The Pinto Mountain Trail is a secluded and physically demanding route that should only be… Read More

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Rock Caves Loop Map

18. Rock Caves Loop
Difficulty

2.9mi 190ft 1-1.5h

The Rock Caves Loop has no shortage of things to see as it weaves throughout… Read More

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Barker Dam Nature Trail

19. Barker Dam Nature Trail
Difficulty

1.3mi 62ft 0.5h

Relatively short and with little elevation gain, the Barker Dam Nature Trail is a family-friendly… Read More

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Keys View Road to Pinto Basin Road Trail

20. Keys View Road to Pinto Basin Road Trail
Difficulty

10.6mi 463ft 3.5-5h

The Keys View Road to Pinto Basin Road Trail is a moderately difficult one-way route… Read More

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Conejo Well and Eagle Mountains Trail Map

21. Conejo Well and Eagle Mountains Trail
Difficulty

13.5mi 1,122ft 5-6.5h

A comparably long route, the Conejo Well and Eagle Mountains Trail is ideal for those… Read More

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Contact Mine Trail Map

22. Contact Mine Trail
Difficulty

4.2mi 712ft 2-2.5h

The Contact Mine Trail is one of the best short hikes available in Joshua Tree… Read More

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Live Oak Tank and Ivanpah Tank Trail Map

23. Live Oak Tank and Ivanpah Tank Trail
Difficulty

1.5mi 131ft 0.5-1h

A moderately trafficked loop, the Live Oak Tank and Ivanpah Tank is a beautiful hike… Read More

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Quail Mountain Via Juniper Flats Trail

24. Quail Mountain Via Juniper Flats Trail
Difficulty

12.8mi 1,680ft 5-7h

Considered a harder route, the Quail Mountain via Juniper Flats Trail is ideal for those… Read More

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Boy Scout Trail To Willow Hole Extended Route Trail Map

25. Boy Scout Trail To Willow Hole Extended Route Trail
Difficulty

17.6mi 1,657ft 6.5-9h

The Boy Scout Trail To Willow Hole Extended Route Trail is a longer route than… Read More

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Black Rock Canyon to Panorama Loop Trail

26. Black Rock Canyon to Panorama Loop Trail
Difficulty

6.7mi 1,224ft 3-4h

The Black Rock Canyon to Panorama Loop Trail is an excellent hike that is medium… Read More

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Lucky Boy Vista Trail To Elton Mine Trail Map

27. Lucky Boy Vista Trail To Elton Mine Trail
Difficulty

3.1mi 200ft 1-1.5h

The Lucky Boy Vista Trail to Elton Mine Trail is a family-friendly route within Joshua… Read More

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Black Rock Canyon Trail

28. Black Rock Canyon Trail
Difficulty

3.0mi 400ft 1-1.5h

The Black Rock Canyon Trail is a well marked hike that is both easily accessible… Read More

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Twin Tanks Hike Map

29. Twin Tanks Hike
Difficulty

5.1mi 361ft 2-2.5h

The Twin Tanks Hike is an excellent route to see birds, jackrabbits, lizards and other… Read More

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Eagle Cliff Mine Hike Map

30. Eagle Cliff Mine Hike
Difficulty

2.3mi 581ft 1-1.5h

The Eagle Cliff Mine Hike makes you work for all that it has to offer.… Read More

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Big Pine Trail Map

31. Big Pine Trail
Difficulty

8.5mi 837ft 3-4.5h

The Big Pine Trail is an easily accessible route near the West Entrance of Joshua… Read More

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Cap Rock and Gram Parsons Nature Trail Map

32. Cap Rock and Gram Parsons Nature Trail
Difficulty

0.7mi 39ft 0.5h

With an abundance of unique rock formations, the Cap Rock and Gram Parsons Nature Trail… Read More

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Ryan Ranch Trail

33. Ryan Ranch Trail
Difficulty

1.5mi 135ft 0.5-1h

Fairly short but packed with character, the Ryan Ranch Trail is a must-do in Joshua… Read More

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Hall of Horrors Hike

34. Hall of Horrors Hike
Difficulty

0.6mi 26ft 0.5h

The magnificently named Hall of Horrors Hike is an interactive hiking experience the entire family… Read More

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Desert Queen Mine Hike Map

35. Desert Queen Mine Hike
Difficulty

3.4mi 581ft 1.5-2h

Passing by a number of old mine sites and other unique structures, the Desert Queen… Read More

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Wall Street Mill and Wonderland Wash Loop Map

36. Wall Street Mill and Wonderland Wash Loop
Difficulty

3.3mi 144ft 1-1.5h

The Wall Street Mill and Wonderland Wash Loop is a family-friendly route with no shortage… Read More

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Eureka Peak Trail

37. Eureka Peak Trail
Difficulty

9.9mi 1,759ft 4.5-6h

Fairly long and considered to be more difficult than many hikes in Joshua Tree National… Read More

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Hidden Valley Campground to Barker Dam Nature Trail

38. Hidden Valley Campground to Barker Dam Nature Trail
Difficulty

4.4mi 161ft 1.5-2h

Easily accessible and appropriate for the entire family, the Hidden Valley Campground to Barker Dam… Read More

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Lost Horse Mine Trail Map

39. Lost Horse Mine Trail
Difficulty

4.0mi 515ft 1.5-2h

The Lost Horse Mine Trail is a moderately difficult route that takes you to the… Read More

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Joshua Tree West Side Trail

40. Joshua Tree West Side Trail
Difficulty

3.1mi 299ft 1-1.5h

The Joshua Tree West Side Trail is ideal for those seeking a stunning hike without… Read More

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Skull Rock Discovery Trail Map

41. Skull Rock Discovery Trail
Difficulty

0.7mi 69ft 0.5h

A leisurely route, the Skull Rock Discovery trail is ideal for those seeking a family-friendly… Read More

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Panorama Trail and Big Foot Walk Map

42. Panorama Trail and Big Foot Walk
Difficulty

8.9mi 1,266ft 3.5-5h

The Panorama Trail and Big Foot Walk is a longer, more secluded route that is… Read More

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North View and Maze Trail Map

43. North View and Maze Trail
Difficulty

5.9mi 686ft 2.5-3h

The North View and Maze Trail takes you through a variety of landscapes with different,… Read More

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North Trail and North Canyon Trail Map

44. North Trail and North Canyon Trail
Difficulty

4.2mi 594ft 1.5-2.5h

The North Trail and North Canyon Trail takes you through a number of stunning environments… Read More

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The Maze Loop Map

45. The Maze Loop
Difficulty

4.7mi 361ft 1.5-2.5h

Conveniently located near the town of Joshua Tree, the Maze Loop is both accessible and… Read More

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Crest View Trail Map

46. Crest View Trail
Difficulty

3.2mi 180ft 1-1.5h

Boasting some of the best views of the Joshua Tree National Park wilderness, the Crest… Read More

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Mastodon Peak Loop Trail

47. Mastodon Peak Loop Trail
Difficulty

2.6mi 407ft 1-1.5h

The Mastodon Peak Loop Trail is a family-friendly route with no shortage of things to… Read More

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Canyon View Trail Map

48. Canyon View Trail
Difficulty

6.2mi 955ft 2.5-3.5h

The Canyon View Trail is an excellent choice for intermediate hikers. Traversing the Joshua Tree… Read More

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Samuelsons Rocks Trail Map

49. Samuelsons Rocks Trail
Difficulty

3.3mi 223ft 1-1.5h

The Samuelsons Rocks Trail is a moderately difficult route that offers scenic views of the… Read More

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Stubby Springs Trail Map

50. Stubby Springs Trail
Difficulty

12.8mi 1,129ft 4.5-6.5h

The Stubby Springs Trail is ideal for hikers seeking a more secluded route, as it… Read More

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Silver Bell Mine Hike

51. Silver Bell Mine Hike
Difficulty

1.3mi 308ft 0.5-1h

While short, the Silver Bell Mine Hike is not lacking substance. After a quick climb… Read More

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Crown Prince Lookout Trail Map

52. Crown Prince Lookout Trail
Difficulty

3.9mi 367ft 1.5-2h

The Crown Prince Lookout Trail begins by traversing relatively flat terrain before arriving at two… Read More

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Eagle CLiffs Lucky Boy Vista Loop Map

53. Eagle CLiffs Lucky Boy Vista Loop
Difficulty

5.1mi 797ft 2-3h

Boasting some of the most stunning rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park, the Eagle… Read More

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Short Loop and Fault Line Trail Map

54. Short Loop and Fault Line Trail
Difficulty

3.9mi 627ft 1.5-2.5h

The Short Loop and Fault Line Trail is a scenic route in Joshua Tree National… Read More

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Wall Street Mill Trail

55. Wall Street Mill Trail
Difficulty

2.4mi 89ft 1h

Short in length, but packed with things to see, the Wall Street Mill Trail is… Read More

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Carey's Castle Trail Map

56. Carey's Castle Trail
Difficulty

7.5mi 1,276ft 3-4.5h

Careys Castle Trail is a little used route starting at the southern border of Joshua… Read More

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Burnt Hill Trail Map

57. Burnt Hill Trail
Difficulty

5.9mi 935ft 2.5-3.5h

A moderately difficult hike, the Burnt Hill Trail is perfect for the beginner hiker who… Read More

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