Difficulty G Distance 0 to 2 miles Rating: 4-6 San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mountains & Joshua Tree Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Indian Cove Nature Trail (Joshua Tree National Park)


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  • Location: Indian Cove, Joshua Tree National Park. From Highway 62, take Indian Cove Rd. (36 miles northeast of I-10, 16 miles east of Yucca Valley and 6 miles west of Twenytnine Palms). Head south on Indian Cove Rd. for 2.7 miles to the Indian Cove Campground entrance. Drive to the western end of the campground and park in the day use area by site #90. 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: 0.6 mile
  • Elevation gain: 50 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time:  30 minutes
  • Best season:  September – April
  • Recommended guidebook: Best Easy Day Hikes Joshua Tree National Park
  • Dogs: Not allowed
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Vault restrooms at trail head
  • Camping: Indian Cove Campground
  • More information: Trip descriptions here and here
  • Rating: 5

This short interpretive trail focuses on the ways in which local indigenous peoples lived off the land. It serves as a nice introduction to the northern edge of Joshua Tree  National Park, showcasing the area’s diverse plant life and panoramic views of Yucca Valley. Evening is a particularly enjoyable time to hike here, not only for the cooler temperatures but the chance to watch the sun set behind Wonderland of Rocks.

From the trail head, follow the short loop down into a wash and back out again. Plaques describe the uses for the various plants you will see along the route. The intimidating looking pencil cholla, for example, could be boiled and eaten (apparently it tasted like sour apples). Creosote was used to treat a variety of maladies including kidney stones and menstruation. Jojoba oil was used as a balm and, since the banning of sperm whale oil in the 1970s, has become widely used as a substitute.

Pencil cholla, Joshua Tree National Park
Pencil cholla
Desert almond, Indian Cove, Joshua Tree
Desert almond
Indian Cove Nature Trail, Joshua Tree, CA
Cholla and yucca, Indian Cove Nature Trail
Indian Cove Nature Trail
Desert willows in the wash

Text and photography copyright 2017  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.

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