7 Best Hiking Trails in Joshua Tree
Spread across 800,000 acres, the Joshua Tree National Park straddles the Colorado and Mojave Deserts.
Filled with quirky rocks and plants, the park gets its name from the spiny Joshua Trees that you can find in abundance in the park. As you step into the park, you instantly get transported into one of Dr. Seuss’s books.
Joshua Tree Park has lots to offer to adventure buffs. And, if you’re an avid hiker, then the park has numerous hiking trails in varying levels of distance, difficulty, and interest that you can explore.
Right from easy trails to longer and more challenging ones with stunning landscapes, Joshua Tree has it all.
So, read on to learn about some of the 7 best hiking trails in Joshua Tree and get started.
The Best Hiking Trails in Joshua Tree
Hidden Valley Nature Trail
Used as a hideout by cattle rustlers in the olden days, the Hidden Valley is hidden from view (as the name implies).
Quite a popular hiking trail, the Hidden Valley is a short and easy hike of one mile, offering stunning desert scenery with a mix of Joshua trees, giant boulders, fantastic rock formations, different types of cacti, and reptiles.
Perfect for hikers of all ages, the Hidden Valley is perfect for short hikes. The massive monzogranite boulders scattered around the valley are irresistible for adults and kids to explore and climb.
The trailhead has a lovely picnic area with picnic tables, which is the perfect spot for a picnic with your family.
Cholla Cactus Nature Trail
Situated on the eastern side of the Joshua Tree National Park, the Cholla Cactus Nature Trail is one of the most popular and easiest hiking trails.
Set on a flat, wide plain, the 0.25-mile boardwalk trail takes you through a magical forest of clusters of thousands of cholla cacti.
The best time to visit the Cholla Cactus Garden is at sunrise, in the late afternoon or early evening, when the setting sun bathes the cacti in an ethereal golden glow.
This area also offers the darkest skies that are perfect for stargazing after the sun has set.
Skull Rock Trail
One of the most unique and recognizable trails of Joshua Tree, the 1.7-mile Skull Rock trail is quite popular with hikers.
Suitable for hikers of all skill levels, there are massive clusters of rocks along the trail, including the signature skull rock that has depressions like eye sockets, which gives it its characteristic human skull appearance.
The Skull Rock is situated very close to the Jumbo Rocks Campground and can be accessed via a very easy trail.
If you’re visiting the Skull Rock trail in spring, then you’ll be treated by the stunning view of the colorful native wildflower apart from the Joshua, juniper, and yucca trees and the varied cacti plants.
If you’re lucky, you can spot some coyotes, jackrabbits, and maybe even a snake that inhabits the desert area.
Barker Dam Trail
If you want a combination of history, culture, wildlife and bird spotting, and hiking, then the Barker Dam Trail is a must-do.
This relatively easy trail is a 1.1-mile short flat trail that takes you through the pinyon pines, cacti, rock piles, Joshua trees, and creosote to the Barker Dam. On the way, you can also see a small cave with Native American paintings.
The Barker Dam was built as a drinking water reservoir for cattle by the early cattle ranchers, but now it is mostly dry and has water seasonally.
The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When there is water in the dam, you can see birds and wildlife such as bighorn sheep.
Arch Rock Trail
With its graceful arch and red rocks, the landscape of the Arch Rock Trail is quite similar to southern Utah. The Arch Rock Trail is an easy trail that begins quite flat and is suitable for families with younger kids.
The Arch Rock is a popular attraction with a 30-foot natural arch formation, and you can go under it and take pictures.
The Arch Rock Trail is a 1.4-mile-long trail with a lollipop-shaped loop, and as you walk on the route, you can see other rock formations and do a bit of rock climbing along the way if you want.
You can also check out the other spur trails around the Arch Rock Trail, such as the one leading to Heart Rock, a heart-shaped rock.
Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail
A 3-mile-long trail, the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail is a moderately strenuous hike that leads you to the magical oasis with its gorgeous, lush palms.
The trail goes up to a ridge and then descends to the canyon with the oasis with giant palm trees.
The most beautiful oasis in the Joshua Tree National Park, the 49 Palms Oasis, has lush palms that are fed by the water from a natural spring.
If you’re a wildlife lover, then you’ll be delighted with the views of the birds and bighorn sheep that frequent the oasis.
You can see plenty of barrel cactus along the ridge that blooms during the summer months, and you can see wildflowers during spring.
Warren Peak Trail
Situated on the northwestern corner of Joshua Tree Park, the Warren Peak Trail is a 6.3-mile trail and is a wonderful option if you want a challenging hike and great views.
The trail goes through open deserts and sandy terrain, and then the trail starts to climb Warren Peak, where the last stretch is quite steep.
On the way, you will see plenty of Joshua, oak, juniper, pinyon pine, yucca trees, and large black and gray gneiss blocks.
Once you reach the top of the 5,103 ft. high peak, you can enjoy the stunning views of the gorgeous mountains, Coachella Valley, and the Mojave Desert.
You can relax a bit before you start your return hike back to the Black Rock Campground.
These are some of the popular hiking trails in Joshua Tree, but there are several more that you can explore.
And irrespective of the hiking trail you choose, you’ll definitely fall in love with this stunning desert terrain that offers plenty of opportunities for adventure, views of the unique flora and fauna, and experience the history of the area.