Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Joshua Tree National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Rather nice. Very flat. Some good bouldering spots along the way needless to say...

This trail is exceptionally difficult if you descend into Pine Canyon and requires climbing gear / expertise to navigate the boulders. Do not recommend taking children into the canyon or for inexperienced climbers.

backpacking
21 days ago

Park entrance is open during off hours, so you can still access the park if you show up at weird hours.

Backpacking is made so easy at JTNP. You don't have to reserve a permit. Can simply fill one out at the TH, ahhh the good old days.

Warning, if you don't like crowds, don't go on Thanksgiving. Was shockingly packed!

Easy trail. Vault toilet at the parking lot.

My plan was for a 4 or 5 day backpacking trip, but got food poisoning the first day instead. :) Definitely plan on going back! Hoping to see some wildlife or flowers when I do.

This is an incredible piece of land. We did this west to east as 3 day/2 night backpacking trip from Black Canyon to the North Entrance. You are beholden to where a road crosses the trail for caching water. There seem to be several spots including Covington, Ryan Campground, Geology Tour Road and Twin Tanks. We chose Ryan Campground and Twin Tanks and stored 2 gallons per person (which turned out to be more than enough). Though it's common sense, I had read to throw away any punctured jugs. This is because rodents with hantavirus. The trail is well marked, but I recommend buying a Tom Harrison map. We did no route finding until the last section in the west before the North Entrance backcountry board. This was mostly because it was a large wash. This section goes in the same general direction and tended to funnel us back to the trail (though this might be annoying at night). We camped in a valley near the 13 mile marker before the steepish ascent and again just a mile passed the Geology Tour backcountry board. We saw next to no one and absolutely no other overnighters. I found the general grade of the ascents to be easy and the same with the descents. Most of this ascending/descending is in the first half of the trail. Can't recommend it enough. Enjoy!

hiking
30 days ago

Did a good chunk of this last month (Nov). Great part of the park to hike thru. You get a little of everything it has to offer from the JOSHUA Trees to the myriad rock formations to some great views up higher to some shady mini canyons along the way.

backpacking
30 days ago

Nice spot to overnight and great peak to summit. Not quite full of the rock formations I love but a great experience of JOSHUA Tree Park. Obviously bring plenty of water - no local sources. Did this in early December and a night wind got us up and out at around 4am. Probably better in fall or spring.

Well maintained trail ,be ready to hike 4 miles to see few but awesome Joshua trees

As the previous comment goes, forget the trail, just wander around in the desert! I had so much fun out here. I used landmarks to find my way around, check my recording, I gave up trying to follow any route. I didn’t find any Well, but there were a couple of small sources of water in the valleys. But I took 3 litres and that was more than enough.

Coyotes were howling in the distance, and I started the trail under a full moon in the morning to witness a stunning sunrise. I’ll be doing this again soon!

Good long hike. One challenging part with some switchbacks about 4.5 miles in but otherwise easy/moderate. Definitely a good way to see the many terrains of the Park

Wasn’t feelin the vibe; something eerie about this trail.

Fun overnighter camping out with the Cougars..

Did this trail back in 2004. Must have a compass and a good map to find your way. Route finding skills are essential as is plenty of water. Hiked all the way to mountain and then camped at the base for the night. Packed out the next morning. GREAT views at the top of Monument Mountain.

The actual "pine city" part of this trail is not indicated on the trail itself so you will most likely overshoot it. The trail is, as mentioned above, longer than posted, but not that hard. (Closer to 2 miles each way). Overall nice but I wish we could have found the old mineshafts. Great trail for plant life. A lot of low lying colorful plants. (August)

started at night, trail wasn't really a trail, just a blind walk through wilderness! of course we started the trail late at night

hiking
8 months ago

Did this 5/10 as a one day solo hike. Started at 3 am under the stars at Black Rock Campground, and ended at 6 pm at the 29Palms entrance booth. Had a friend meet me at Ryan Campground for extra water and food. The trail is well marked, but don’t rely on that; you really don’t want to get lost in the vastness of the park. Saw plenty of wildlife, and not a single other person on the trail. Longest hike I ever did, loved it, might make it an annual event.

Maybe it's because that was one of the last hike of the day, but I found it a little dull.

Incredible and easy. Terrain changes from open and flat to Boulders and rock formations.

hiking
9 months ago

Agree with prior reviews that the trail is longer than posted, and that it is relatively flat (~150 ft elevation). Missed the path into Pine City and went on the spur along Pine Canyon and to the Twentynine Palms overlook. Did not go beyond the maintenance (or lack thereof) sign. On return, stepped over log and rocks to explore Pine City. Afterward returning to the carpark, took the short trail to the house ruin and Desert Queen mine overlook. A great afternoon complementing the morning's geology tour and getting away from the Spring Break crowd at Hidden Valley.

Did this trail from Black Rock Canyon campground to Ryans camp over this past weekend with scouts from BSA Troop 384. Great scenery, excellent weather.

Starting out takes you across flat desert for a mile or so. After that, you get into the Wonderland of Rocks. It lives up to its name. Winding, rocky trail with different formations at every turn. It was a fun, moderate hike.

9 months ago

A very nice hike through many zones of the park. Great to park a car at Indian Cove then drive back and start from the top so most of the hike is downhill.

No sign in at the trailhead and the parking area is for day use only, no over night parking. Probably a great hike though if you get there early enough.

A fantastic overnighter (Indian Cove-Willow Hole-back). One of the better trails for a moderate backpack trip in JT and nice for a solo excursion. All the uphill is near the beginning at Indian Cove, followed by cathedrals of rock formations. Going in ~5 miles to camp in the rocks is nice, then ~13 miles to Willow Hole and back.

Tips: Camping is only on the west side of the Boy Scout trail and not allowed on the Willow Hole trail. There's a lot of sandy washes so gaiters might be good. Midweek is nice and quiet. Take sun protection seriously and pack lots of water! That's standard fare for JT but being 6+ miles from anything means "for reals."

hiking
10 months ago

I would recommend starting this trail at the opposite end and maybe turning around after the slot canyon. The views were much better a couple miles in, although the slot canyon was fun.
Sand makes for a little tougher ascent but it’s gradual so not too bad.
What I loved about this trail is the fact that it is less visited and you can go miles without seeing anyone.

Beautiful!! Slightly uphill the whole way but awesome view everywhere — I ran 1 hour in but next time I’d like to run 1:20 in so pretty!!

This is a hike that requires either good map and compass and route finding skills (and perhaps a bit of luck), or moderate map skills and a GPS. Perseverance is also big help. There is no real established trail to the top as far as I could tell. The middle of the hike is relatively easy to follow as you walk up porcupine wash (there are a couple of decision forks but it is relatively easy to follow the proper route). No so for the beginning and end of the hike. The herd path from the parking lot actually misses the wash - we followed this path from the lot, even up through a small pass complete with cairns marking the "trail". Finally checked the compass and realized we were way off. Looked at GPS and we were 1/2 mile from porcupine wash, made a bee-line for the wash to get back on track. On the way back to the car out of the wash did not see many tracks (the wash is very wide approaching the lot) so just be aware the main path from the lot may be a faise trail to follow. The wash is a little to the right of the main herd path we initially followed. Once in the wash, you follow it for miles to the large open valley north of Monument Mountain. You'll know it when you finally enter this, and can see Monument Mountain off to the left as you hike west. It's best to stay in the wash for a while rather than head straight to the mountain. Stick to the left side of the wash and eventually you can see a cut (wash) in the distance heading up a hill toward the direction of the mountain (we were in the wash in the valley for about 1.5 miles before turning direct to the mountain). Break out of the wash "valley" as (or before) going gets tough and then just head cross country over a bunch of ridges to get to the peak. There is no real path from this point to the mountain, everyone has found their own route it seems. We ended up approaching the final peak climb from the north side, the slope was more gradual than straight up from the east although the east face is doable just steep in places. The view from the top of the mountain is pretty great. Did this as an overnight backpack, recommend that vs long day hike. Also worth noting that with the meandering that takes place as you walk through the miles of wash, my GPS put this at closer to 19.5 miles round trip (even eliminating the error at the beginning I mentioned above). Gave it 3 stars - if you are into following established trails it is probably 1 star, if you are adventure seeking and enjoy finding your own path it is probably 5 stars.

It’s not an easy hike and there’s not much of a trail to follow. Set out alone on day one and couldn’t find it. Found a spot to camp for the night snd then set out again the following day with a partner. The key is to know what the mountain peak looks like. You can see it off in the distance from the parking lot at the backcountry board. The route I took led me off trail and I had to cheat by following a dropped pin in Google Maps. Once I found the main wash it was easier to stay on course. There are so many high ridges and false peaks you may think you’re never going to find it. But if you stay in the wash it’ll open into a large flat valley and Monument Mountain will be clearly visible on the left. I took a rather direct approach and it was very difficult. I’m sure there are easier/more gradual routes. Definitely worth the effort. Amazing views from the top. Don’t forget to sign the register.

Trail is well marked, as well as unremarkable. Wash running uphill with a few rocks here and there. Found dirty water at willow hole. Cool rock formations once there. This would be an awesome trail to do right after a big rain, as the majority of it is in a wash.

Good trail with almost no shade. Going west to east, the first day of hiking is better as the trail is more diverse. The trail took me two days and I camped around juniper flats. Good trail.

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