Hidden Valley Nature Trail (Joshua Tree National Park)
- Location: Hidden Valley, Joshua Tree National Park. From Highway 62 in Yucca Valley, take Park Blvd. south into Joshua Tree National Park. Follow it for a total of 14 miles, during which it becomes Quail Springs Road and then resumes as Park Blvd. The well-signed Hidden Valley Picnic Area will be on the right, just before Barker Dam Road. Park admission is $25 per vehicle for a 7-day pass. Annual passes are $40. The Interagency Pass ($80 annually) is also accepted here.
- Agency: Joshua Tree National Park
- Distance: 1 mile
- Elevation gain: 150 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 45 minutes
- Best season: October – April
- Recommended guidebook: Best Easy Day Hikes Joshua Tree National Park
- Dogs: Not allowed
- Cell phone reception: None
- Water: None
- Restrooms: Vault restrooms at trail head
- Camping: The nearest campgrounds are Hidden Valley, Ryan and Sheep Pass. Joshua Tree campsites fill up well in advance during the cooler months, especially on weekends, so plan accordingly.
- More information: Trip descriptions here and here
- Rating: 7
This one-mile loop packs plenty in its diminutive distance. While other short nature trails may visit iconic formations such as Skull Rock and Cap Rock, Hidden Valley offers a look at an interesting micro-habitat. Besides the park’s signature trees, other vegetation here includes pinion pines, scrub oak, yucca and cacti, all of which thrive in the granite escarpment-bordered valley. The walls and ridges surrounding Hidden Valley make the trail seem intimate despite its popularity; even though you will undoubtedly bump into other hikers and rock climbers (especially on weekends) the sense of solitude isn’t lost. If you are coming into Joshua Tree National Park via the main entrance, you will pass by this trail head on your way to almost any major park destination, so don’t miss the opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy some excellent scenery.
From the parking area, follow the trail up some rock stairs a short distance to the start of the loop, which can be hiked in either direction. There are a few spots where the route may seem a little ambiguous but it’s hard to get too lost; other than a few rocky areas navigation and terrain are easy. Any time you see fit you can venture off the trail and try climbing some of the formations. Keep an eye out for a “window” created by a jumble of boulders. After completing the loop retrace your steps back to the parking area and set off to enjoy the rest of the park.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
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.