Difficulty PG13 Distance 5.1 to 10 miles General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 9 San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mountains & Joshua Tree Season: Fall/Early Winter

Warren Peak (Joshua Tree National Park)


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View from the Warren Peak
View from Warren Peak
View of Warren Peak from about half a mile away
View of Warren Peak from about half a mile away

Warren Peak (Joshua Tree National Park)

  • Location: High desert near Yucca Valley.  From I-10, take Highway 62 northeast for 21.8 miles.  Turn right on Joshua Lane (opposite highway 247).  Go 4.6 miles to a T-junction at San Marino Drive.  Turn right and follow San Marino Drive to Black Rock Canyon Road.  Drive 0.3 miles to campground entrance (there is a $15 fee for camping, but day use is free).  The road is in bad shape, so watch out for potholes.  Park by the ranger station.
  • Agency: Joshua Tree National Park
  • Distance: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,150 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (elevation gain, terrain, navigation)
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season:  November – April
  • USGS topo map: “Yucca Valley South”
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock; hiking poles
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
  • More information: trip report here; Black Rock Canyon area map here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 9
0:00 - Black Rock Campground (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)
0:00 – Black Rock Campground (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

Rising nearly a mile above sea level, Warren Peak is one of the highest points in Joshua Tree National Park.  It can be found in the Black Rock Canyon area, in the park’s northwestern corner.  Scenic highlights include views of the San Jacinto and San Bernardino ranges, the high desert, interesting geology and a wide variety of plant life.

0:05 - Heading east into the wash past the campground (times are approximate)
0:05 – Heading east into the wash past the campground (times are approximate)

From the ranger station, head east to Campground Road. The last segment before Campground Road is roped off for vehicles but open to hikers. At dirt Campground Road, head down into a wash, continuing east toward the trail (look for some wooden fences in front of a large rock pile.) There are a few different possible paths through the wash, but it shouldn’t be too tough to find your way across.

0:09 - Heading up into Black Rock Canyon
0:09 – Heading up into Black Rock Canyon

You join the trail just before a junction, where the signed California Riding & Hiking Trail heads away and southeast. Take a hard right and head south on the trail signed for Black Rock Canyon.

0:22 - Continuing up into the canyon
0:22 – Continuing up into the canyon

You make your way up a gentle grade, staying straight as the Short Loop and Burnt Hill trails branch off to the left. Look for posts marked PL/WP (Panorama Loop/Warren Peak) to guide you when in doubt.

0:46 - Beginning of the Panorama Loop
0:47 – Beginning of the Panorama Loop

Continuing your climb, you reach the beginning of the Panorama Loop Trail at 1.8 miles from the start. You can take this 3.5 mile loop if you have time, but to reach Warren Peak, head right. You’ll start to notice more pinon pines and juniper trees as you gain elevation. At 2.2 miles, stay right at a second junction with the Panorama Loop.

0:55 - Pines and geology in Black Rock Canyon
0:55 – Pines and geology in Black Rock Canyon

Soon after, you’ll get your first look at the pyramid shape of Warren Peak, off to the right. Turn right at the next junction, and begin your final ascent. Here, the trail gets rugged as it makes its way along a ridge. The route isn’t too hard to follow; your destination is always in sight. Just below the top, you’ll scramble up a few rocks to reach the summit.

0:58 - End of the Panorama Loop
0:58 – End of the Panorama Loop

On rocky Warren Peak, you get great views of both mountain and desert: the Mojave to the north and the Coachella Valley to the south. Enjoy the panorama, and the strong sense of solitude, before returning via the same route.

1:20 - Climbing the ridge
1:20 – Climbing the ridge

Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

1:30 - Looking northwest from the summit
1:30 – Looking northwest from the summit
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