Porcupine Wash to Monument Mountain Trail

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Joshua Tree National Park

Porcupine Wash to Monument Mountain Trail is a 18.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Coolidge Springs, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 18.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,670 feet Route Type: Out & Back



nature trips

bird watching



wild flowers




no dogs

6 months ago

Following All Trails route probably best, I did this on return, going to peak I chose my own path, still very doable! My GPS had distance at 10.3 miles. Peak looks daunting, especially since you have to descend then climb again, but just takes some time and effort. Well worth it! Be sure to sign the logbook at the peak. I backpacked one night, same day? Sure, lighter pack but would still be hard!

off trail
Sat May 18 2019

Scramble up to Monument Mountain is a little sketchy, but overall worth it! Great views, great wildlife, great trip! Very lightly trafficked. I didn’t see anyone else on the “trail” for 2 days.

Mon Mar 25 2019

We started at 8:30 AM and made it up to the first Ridgeline bye 1:30 PM. Pass this first Ridgeline it is a massive wind Corredor and much colder approximately 15 to 20° colder than the entire trail. So if you’re going to try to make the peak bring a jacket. Also recommend starting no later than 7 AM to give yourself plenty of time to make it there and back in a day and less you’re a jogger then you’ll go fast. I recommend also staying in the wash the entire time. the wash actually goes straight up to the first Ridgeline. The priced map says get out of the wash at the end. I'd say to not following this map Because out of the washing is Actually slower than just staying in the wash, which is easy and is a natural Trail, easy follow. Outside of the wash it’s actually slower because the terrain is so filled with cactus and big rocks. You can’t get lost in the wash and if you take the wash All the way, when you get it to the first Ridgeline and you turn around and see the wash coming all the way up as it curves through the valley as it comes out of the canyon you’ll see what I mean I’ll leave a picture posted from the first Ridgeline . In regards to the sand in the wash does add some layer of difficulty walking need to be in good shape to make it the entire way if you're going to make it up the mountain but for folks with knee problems it's also great because it's so soft. We went at the end of March after heavy rains and it was gorgeous with full of flowers an awesome time for a wash hike

Thu Aug 30 2018

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.

Sat Feb 17 2018

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.

Tue Feb 13 2018

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.

Fri Apr 01 2016

Backpacked out to this area back in '13. Certainly a wash. Nice area if you like the desert. Watch out for jumping cholla.

Mon Jul 28 2014

Tried this last July, got lost twice and finally had to abandon the effort. Obviously not a popular hike since there are no reviews. I hope to try again in a couple months. Please post if you have information on this hike. Thank you, Frank