Hiking California's Desert Parks
by Bill & Polly Cunningham (Falcon Guides)
© Bill & Polly Cunningham/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
They say the trail starts at the Chollo Catcus Graden, and despite the very clear directions given by the trail guide we never found the trail itself. We found some tire tracks and we followed those as far as they went--our thinking was if there was a trail it's completely grown over now.
What we did was walk through open desert in as straight a line as we possibly could. The trail guide says if you get lost follow the largest peak in the southwest sky, which was helpful. If you walk through the two Volcanic mounds, follow the highest southwest peak and look for rock cairns to guide the way, you'll eventually find your way to the base of the mountain. Don't make the mistake of walking up the river washes--resist the temptation of flat ground and continue to go straight in the direction of the mountain. From there you have to scramble up rock covered pathways to the mine. The mine itself is pretty cool, but the view is probably better on one of the other neighboring peaks.
It's definitely a strenuous hike, only because you spend most of your time walking over rocks and around Cacti. It's not a trip to take dogs, children or grandma on. I wouldn't do it again, or recommend to others. It was obvious no one had been on that hike in a long long while, and I'm sure there are other better hikes to be had in Joshua Tree.
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