17 Best Joshua Tree Hikes
Do you enjoy desert hikes? Then if you’re visiting Joshua Tree National Park, you’ve come to the right place. This massive national park has over 130 trails, all crossing exciting desert terrain, unique plant life, and unusual rock formations. Even better, many of the best hikes in Joshua Tree are easy and family-friendly. So get on your hiking shoes and let’s get going.
EASY HIKES IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
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1. Bajada Nature Trail
Length: 0.3 miles
Time: 10 minutes
This is the first trail we pass on Shaka Guide’s Joshua Tree National Park Tour. It’s incredibly short, and not the most exciting in terms of rock formations or plant life. But, if you’re anxious to get out of the car, or if you enjoy birding, you might enjoy this very easy trail. However, if you’re light on time, there are better options.
2. Cholla Cactus Garden Trail
Length: 0.25 miles
Time: 10 minutes
Calling this path a trail is a little generous, but this patch of cholla cactus is a really charming (and pokey, don’t touch!) walk through unusual desert plants. You won’t spend too much time here, but you’ll definitely want to make a stop and grab some pictures.
3. Arch Rock Nature Trail
Length: 1.4 miles (2 km)
Time: 30 minutes
It’s a short, flat walk from the Twin Tanks trailhead to Arch Rock, and the rock formation playground around it. You’ll spend as much time climbing around the boulders in this unusual rock garden as you will doing any actual hiking.
4. Oasis of Mara Trail
Length: 0.5 miles
Time: 15 minutes
Located behind a ranger station and visitor center, this quick trail takes you to an oasis with some impressive palm trees. This paved walk is also a popular birding spot.
5. Hidden Valley Nature Trail
Length: 1 mile (1.6 km)
Time: 45 minutes
This easy loop trail is one of the most popular hikes in the entire park, and for good reason. It takes you to a hidden wonderland of Joshua Trees, cool rock formations, and unique desert scenery. What you see here is very emblematic of the Joshua Tree National Park experience: cool rocks and cool plants.
6. Barker Dam Nature Trail
Length: 1.1 miles (1.7 km)
Time: 45 minutes
This simple desert hike passes more incredible plant life and rock scenery on the way to the small, disused Barker Dam. In addition, on the loop is an impressive petroglyph site.
7. Wall Street Mill Trail
Length: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Time: 1.5 hours
It’s possible to combine this out-and-back trail with Barker Dam, but there’s a closer parking lot and trailhead to the Wall Street Mill, a piece of the park’s mining history. Other historic ruins among the plants and rocks make this a unique hike.
You can visit all the above easy hikes on Shaka Guide’s Joshua Tree National Park Tour!
8. Mastadon Peak via Cottonwood Springs
Length: 2.6 miles (4 km)
Time: 1-2 hours
Technically, part of this trail is on the tour. This hike shares a trailhead, and some steps, with the Lost Palms Oasis Trail. You could combine them by hiking out to the oasis first, or as far as you’d like, anyway, then return with a slight detour using this loop trail. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with cool desert plant life and some of the best sunrise/sunset views in the park.
RELATED: One-Day Itinerary: Joshua Tree National Park
MODERATE HIKES IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Image by John Ko from Unsplash
9. Split Rock Loop Trail
Length: 2.4 miles (4 km)
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Split Rock is a tall cliff with a crack down the middle, only a few minutes into the trail. There’s about 275 feet of elevation gain throughout the loop trail, so this is not an especially difficult hike but is longer than many other trails in the park. Again, half the fun is exploring the rock gardens.
10. Lost Horse Mine Trail
Length: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Time: 2 to 3 hours
Again, the moderate rating comes from a mix of mild elevation change (528 feet) and length. But hikers are rewarded with another historic site of mining equipment and ruins.
You can visit all of the above moderate hikes on Shaka Guide’s Joshua Tree National Park Tour!
DIFFICULT HIKES IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Image by Linhao Zhang from Unsplash
11. Lost Palms Oasis Trail
Length: 7.5 miles (12 km)
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Start and end your journey in an oasis on this out-and-back trail. It’s a long hike through unforgiving desert terrain, but the reward is some incredible desert scenery.
12. Ryan Mountain Trail
Length: 3 miles (4.8 km)
Time: 1.5-2.5 hours
If you’re looking for a spectacular spot to enjoy a sunset, look no further than the summit of Ryan Mountain. Though not as long as some other hikes we’ve recommended, there is a lot more uphill walking on this one, with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. But, it’s a stupendous view from the top.
You hike the above difficult trails on Shaka Guide’s Joshua Tree National Park Tour - we’ll guide you there!
13. Warren Peak
Length: 6.3 miles (10 km)
Time: 3-5 hours
This one’s a little out of the way, but it’s one of the best-rated hikes in the park for the rewarding view at the end. Sandy, loose rock, especially toward the beginning, adds an extra challenge.
RELATED: Know Before You Go: Joshua Tree National Park
Which trail will you choose? Joshua Tree’s unique landscape is a truly rewarding place to enjoy a trail. However, keep in mind that this is the desert, so there’s little, if any shade on any of these trails, and you should take necessary precautions such as bringing plenty of water and wearing sun protection.
You’ll also want to avoid doing any serious hiking in the heat of the day. But, with these simple precautions, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the best of what Joshua Tree has to offer.
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