Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park
- Location: Antelope Valley, about 20 miles west of Lancaster. From the 14 Freeway, take the Avenue I exit and head west for 21 miles (Avenue I becomes Lancaster Rd. along the way). The entrance is a small dirt turnout on the right side of the road, about 7 miles past the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. If you reach 210th St. West, you’ve gone about one mile too far. From I-5, take Highway 138 east for 14.7 miles. Turn right on 245th St/West Lancaster Road and follow it for a total of 4.8 miles. The park entrance is on the left side of the road, shortly after 210th St. West. Approximate trail head coordinates are N 34.753387, W 118.510843.
- Agency: California State Parks
- Distance: 1.3 miles
- Elevation gain: Level
- Suggested time: 45 minutes
- Difficulty rating: G
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map:
- Recommended gear: sun block; sun hat
- More information: Here and here; Yelp page here; Map my Hike report here
- Rating: 5
This little-known park is overshadowed by the nearby Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve but it offers two features that its more famous neighbor doesn’t: free parking and dog friendliness. (However, if you are accompanied by your favorite four-legged hiker, make sure to keep an eye out for rattlers). Two enjoyable nature trails circle through the park and they’re short enough that both can easily be done even on warm days. Antelope Valley Joshua Tree fans will appreciate the proximity of this park, as well as the lack of crowds for which Joshua Tree National Park has become (in)famous.
From the turnout on Lancaster Rd., cross the gate and follow the trail north, soon reaching a picnic area with an outhouse and information board. This is where the Nature Trail (0.3 mile) and the Rare Juniper Trail (one mile) begin; check the box for brochures describing the markers on the trails.
Head north from the picnic area on a segment of trail that is shared by both routes. The Nature Trail soon branches off to the right, circling through junipers and Joshua trees before returning to the information board. The Rare Juniper Trail continues north. Between the junipers, you’ll get views of the Tehachapi Mountains towering to the north. A few unauthorized use trails cross the park but the main route is pretty obvious.
At the northern end of the park, the trail bends east and enters an impressive grove of Joshua trees, some of which are more than 20 feet high. The trail then heads south and west, completing the loop back at the picnic area. In case you were wondering, the park is named for Arthur “Archie” Ripley, who donated the land.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.