Barker Dam Trail

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Elevation Gain127ft
Trailhead Elevation4,211ft
Elevation Min/Max4206/4255ft
Elevation Start/End4211/4211ft

Barker Dam Trail

Barker Dam Trail is a hiking trail in Riverside County, California. It is within Joshua Tree National Park. It is 0.8 miles long and begins at 4,211 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 127 feet. Along the trail there are a bare rock and restrooms. This trail connects with the following: Barker Dam Loop.

Barker Dam Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

100 Classic Hikes in Southern California (The Mountaineers Books)
Allen Riedel
View more trails from this guide book
"The trail begins across sand, on a walkway of wooden posts connected by rope. The way is wide and level as it wanders and enters a boulder-filled paradise known as the Wonderland of Rocks. This hike traverses through a small portion of that beautiful landscape. Here, the arresting majesty of the desert is readily apparent. This hike makes a great introduction to the wonders of Joshua Tree National Park. There is perhaps no better place to discover the austere majesty that is the Mojave Desert."
Hiking California's Desert Parks (Falcon Guides)
Bill & Polly Cunningham
View more trails from this guide book
"This highly informative nature trail is a step back in time, both in terms of prehistory and with respect to futile, short-lived attempts to raise cattle back in the early 1900s. Barker Dam was built by ranchers Barker and Shay in a natural rock catch basin to store water for cattle. In 1949-1950 the dam was raised by Bill Keys, owner of the Desert Queen Mine and the nearby Desert Queen Ranch, still a private inholding. When filled to capacity by seasonal rains, the lake behind the dam encompasses 20 acres. Because it is surrounded by a magnificent rock ring of monzonite granite, it looks almost as though it is nestled in a high Sierra cirque at 11,000 feet. Today, the lake is used by bighorn sheep and many other species of wildlife, including shorebirds and migratory waterfowl—some of the last creatures one would expect to find in the desert! A one-mile loop providing easy access to Wonderland of Rocks and the only lake in the park; this educational nature trail also passes through a rich array of petroglyphs."
Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire (Wilderness Press)
David & Jennifer Money Harris
View more trails from this guide book
"A century ago, the climate in Joshua Tree National Park was wet enough to support limited cattle ranching. Ranchers dug wells and built reservoirs to obtain vital water. Barker Dam is the largest of these efforts. Built by the Barker & Shay Cattle Company, it creates a substantial lake during the wet season. This nature trail past the dam at the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks offers some of the most varied and interesting scenery and vegetation of any short walk in the park."

Barker Dam Trail Trip Reports

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
icon2 Total
3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars
This is a nice, easy trail. The dam is nice to see, but don't expect to see any wild life during the day. On the return part of the loop, there are some minor pertoglyphs in a cave that you can actually climb into and exit out the back. Cool!
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
6/9/2008 does not list road biking in the Joshua Tree National Park as an activity. The paved roads that traverse the park are excellent for road bikes as well as cross bikes or even mountain bikes. My husband and I rode for about 2 hours the other day (early in the morning, early in June) and we saw about 10 cars. The speed limit is only 35 mph, so it is a nice break from competing with vehicles out on the highway. It is has a lot of rolling hills, my GPS showed about 1350 elevation gain total for my ride. I ride a mountain bike with Schwalbe fat tires for the pavement, my husband rides a fancy-schmacy road bike with razor thin tires (he sprinted away from me several times during our ride) The roads are in great condition with good shoulders and no debris on the ground. The scenery is amazing. You do not have to go off the paved surface to see gorgeous rock formations and Joshua Trees. Plenty of bathrooms, parking inside the park at several campsite and picnic areas. I recommend driving inside to the Hidden Valley parking/picnic site to begin your ride, otherwise you have a lot of climbing right out of the gate. Water is available through dispensers that require quarters. Bring your cell phone and program in the Ranger Station phone number in case you need help. It costs $12 dollars to get in, they give you a map and information guide. We live 45 min away, so we bought an annual pass for $30. We will be going back often to ride. In the summer months, plan your ride to be finished before 10:30 am. It gets hot...

Barker Dam Trail Photos

Trail Information

Joshua Tree National Park
Nearby City
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Local Contacts
Trail Illustrated Joshua Tree National Park
Local Maps

Trail Log