Barker Dam Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"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."
--Allen Riedel, 100 Classic Hikes in Southern California (The Mountaineers Books).
"A 13.4-mile network of roads crisscrosses this valley of boulder piles and Joshua trees. Several bike racks have been placed in this area so you can lock your bike and go hiking."
--Delaine Fragnoli & Don Douglass, Mountain Biking Southern California's Best 100 Trails (Fine Edge Productions).
"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."
--Bill & Polly Cunningham, Hiking California's Desert Parks (Falcon Guides).
"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."
--David & Jennifer Money Harris, Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire (Wilderness Press).
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