This terrific little hike brings you to the third highest named summit in Joshua Tree National Park. At 5,575 feet, Inspiration Point can be reached via a short but action-packed hike from the popular Keys View vista point. The views are similar to those of Ryan Mountain, but the route is less crowded.
The hike begins to the right of the short brick wall at the western end of the parking lot. Two unmarked use trails head steeply uphill. The route is a little vague, but trail ducks help you stay on course. By about 0.1 mile, you should find yourself on an established trail. Almost half of the climbing on the whole route takes place during the first third of a mile, which brings you to a plateau. Drop down to a saddle, providing views of the Coachella Valley to the left and Lost Horse Valley to the right.
You then climb to another ridge, ignoring a false trail on the left (0.5 mile from the start). By this point, Mt. Inspiration should be visible to the northwest, marked by a lone Joshua tree on the summit. The route heads northwest to another bump before making a steep, rocky descent (expect to use your hands) to another saddle, marked by an abandoned maintenance shed, three quarters of a mile from the start. One last climb brings you to Mt. Inspiration.
From here, your 360 degree view includes San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Toro Peak, the Salton Sea and several of Joshua Tree’s major summits such as Quail and Ryan. After enjoying the scenery, retrace your steps carefully along the steep, loose descents. For much of the return, the parking lot will be in sight. Because the hike is so short, you will probably have time to visit other destinations in the area, such as Lost Horse Mine.
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.