California Riding and Hiking Trail

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Joshua Tree National Park

California Riding and Hiking Trail is a 37.6 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Yucca Valley, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from October until March.

Distance: 37.6 miles Elevation Gain: 3,175 feet Route Type: Point to Point

backpacking

camping

hiking

running

wild flowers

no shade

no dogs

The CRHT is best hiked west to east starting at Black Rock Canyon campground. There is a ranger station at Black Rock Canyon campground.. There is no water to be found along the trail but the trail intersects with roads at a couple of points which are good spots to cache water. There is no fee for backcountry camping in Joshua Tree. Backpackers are required to park and register at designated backcountry registration boards Temperatures are ideal from fall through spring, and wildflowers bloom from February to April, depending on elevation.

hiking
2 months ago

Incredible hike, highly recommend. Just a note, animals are routinely breaking through thin water jugs these days, you need to get a thicker one. I have a full guide and videos, etc. on HikingGuy com

backpacking
3 months ago

Just got back from completing the entire trail. FEB 13-17, 2020. GREAT experience. Dropped car off at North Entrance the day before. There is a designated "backcountry camping" parking area 1/10 of a mile inside park. You will need to pay the 40 dollar fee (to enter National Park) which is good for 5 or 7 days. We then took our second car (next day) to Black Rock area to start. You can also UBER or LYFT here easily. We did the trail in 3 days two nights. First night was in Juniper Flats area. Weather was perfect for all 3 days. Predicted highs in 60's and lows in 40's. HOWEVER.....plan for colder nights than predicted due to terrain and elevation changes. Our first night was in low 30's and water bottles had ice next morning. Be prepared for cold even if weather report states different. Essential mid layer. We had light down with thermal base layers. Scenery changes over three days. In some ways subtle but definite changes. We dropped water cache in two areas. One just west of Ryan Campground where trail crosses Keys View Road. Our second drop was at Geology Tour Road. We actually hit BOTH water drops on Day 2 but that was not an issue as we ended Day 2 with more water than we would need for final Day hikeout (approximately 10 miles on last day). Night two was just east of Geology Tour Road. About 1.5 miles in. Large rock formations on left provide an amazing camping opportunity. Spent some time that night on rocks looking at stars and sipping some trail whisky. Very cool vibe and really memorable. Morning sunrise here was beautiful. We saw nobody for the first 15 miles or so and through morning on Day 2. You then enter a busier area of the park as your map will show. But the traffic was light and our second night mentioned above was desolate. We all loved this hike and had never hiked this type of terrain. Its a great experience and one I was happy to share with good friends and my 21 year old son. Definitely doable for younger backpackers. Day 1 was a bit strenuous (gentle and steady climb) but not prohibitive. Day 2 and Day 3 were relatively flat or downhill. We had a very reasonable, nicely updated and clean airbnb on Oleander Drive. This was a 5-10 minute drive to Black Rock starting point. Flew into LAX and took about three hours to airbnb house. Going back to LAX took over 4 hours on a monday afternoon. Consider getting back to LA much earlier and hanging out in Manhattan Beach which was a 10 minute drive to rental car return. Manhattan Beach has a pier, cool restaurants and cool stores. Enjoy!

backpacking
4 months ago

I did 3 miles out & back on this trail, starting at Geology Road and heading east. It made for an AMAZING backcountry camping experience. It was quiet and peaceful, only got down in the mid 30's at night, and had some of the most amazing sunrises/sunsets I've ever seen. I wrote a blog post (includes more beta and pics) based on my experience. https://www.backpacktheplanet.com/post/joshua-tree-overnight-backpacking-trip

hiking
icy
snow
4 months ago

Backpacking trip was fantastic, however someone stole our water cache at geology tour drop. ( not nice of you friendly persons). If this were summer it could have been dangerous. However because of the mild temps we were ok but highly disappointed in our fellow hiker/campers.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
11 months ago

My 14 y/o son and I just finished the CRHT going east to west from Black Rock Canyon. We cached water at Juniper Flats and Geology tour. We needed every drop of water given the heat. We probably drank 5 liters each per day. On day one, we went @ 13.5 miles and camped at the intersection of Stubby Springs/Juniper Flats Road. This was the toughest day given the vertical and heat. Day 2 was long as we decided to get ~6 miles past our second water cache to the White Tank Campground. I think the campground was technically closed for the season but nobody was around to monitor! The site was beautiful and the sunset from the top of one of the rock formations was quite memorable. The last day was just 7.5 miles out. Overall, a challenging but doable three-day hike. Highly recommend toe socks as the friction of the sand walking will cause some blister issues. Bring blister tape just in case. Also, mosquitos at night were an issue so bring bug spray.

hiking
Fri Mar 08 2019

Just finished this going from west to east and starting at Black Rock Canyon campground. I agree with Juan below that the first ~7 miles aren't great. Lots of walking through sand. In fact I found the middle section of the trail the best. If I were to do this as again I'd suggest starting at Covington flats and ending at Belle campground. That was the best section. Joshua Tree is an amazing place though.

hiking
Tue Feb 12 2019

We hiked east to west. The eastern portion of the park is quite flat. The mountains on the western portions of the trail were the best part of the hike. I think if we were to come back to Joshua Tree with the additional knowledge gained from this through hike, we would perhaps skip the eastern portion of this trail and explore other shorter trails that enter into the mountains. That said, the hike was not overly difficult and the logistics of transportation and caching water were very manageable. We parked our car at Black Rock campground and took a Lyft (approx $40) to the trailhead on the east side. We cached water at the Geology Tour, Juniper Flats, and Covington Flats backcountry registration boards, which were marked clearly on the NatGeo trail map that we also brought along with us (depending on whether it has rained recently, some of these roads may be closed or inaccessible to vehicles w/o 4WD). We lost the trail at our 27th mile when the trail split in a wash. We decided not to double back but instead took other trails to get back to the CRHT. Which means that if you are doing this hike in the short term, you can avail yourself of a nice California CabSauv that we cached at Covington but could not access. Definitely recommend visiting Joshua Tree. The landscapes were beautiful.

backpacking
Sun Jan 27 2019

Took me 3.5 days backpacking at a leisure pace. I left my car at the east end of the trail and was able to hitchhike pretty effortlessly to the west end at Black Rock campground. The section next to Quail Mt. was probably the most challenging but the views were phenomenal! Towards the east end a lot of the trail is washed out, markers are there but at times difficult to see. Wildlife spotted included lots of jackrabbits and ravens, but the highlights were definitely spotting a bobcat on the trail after dark, and a kit desert fox crossing the trail with a meal in his mouth during broad daylight. Plenty of campsites to join after the 20th mile if that’s your thing, I cached my water at Ryan campground and stated there for a night. Go to Joshua Tree, it’s phenomenal.

hiking
Sat Dec 22 2018

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
Fri May 11 2018

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.

backpacking
Thu Jan 25 2018

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.

hiking
Sat Sep 23 2017

This trail is easy to find and there is plenty of parking. We started in the nature center parking lot. We did not do the entire 37 miles, we only went about 2 miles in. We added on the Fault Line trail and came back through the Boundry Trail East. The ground is soft and sandy for most of the trail. Takes your right through the Joshua Trees. There are a lot of cool smaller trails to take off of the CR&H Trail (which is what we did). It is very exposed. We went when the weather was cool, but it was still very sunny. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and hats! Also, watch for horses.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
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hiking
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hiking
4 months ago

backpacking
5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

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