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.
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.