For a more curated experience check out trail guides from our partner publishers.
Hiking California's Desert Parks
by Bill & Polly Cunningham (Falcon Guides)
As the mileage log indicates, this is a very well-marked trail, both up Eureka Peak and down the California Riding & Hiking Trail return trip. In spite of that, there is a sense of wilderness excitement, since the hike to the peak gets out of the wash and into mountain canyons and ravines. Even with the intermittent signs you can feel like an explorer. The view from the peak is magnificent. The San Bernardinos, with their mantle of snow in winter and early spring, rise in the western distance. The park's ranges stretch away to the south and east. A long hike to the highest summit in the northwestern section of the park and back to Black Rock Campground via the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
by David & Jennifer Money Harris (Wilderness Press)
Black Rock Canyon is located near the western edge of Joshua Tree National Park and is connected to the main park only by way of a long and strenuous footpath. While it lacks the outlandish rock formations characteristic of the main park, Black Rock makes up for this with an exceptionally lush and beautiful assortment of prickly desert vegetation. An extensive but poorly marked trail network fans out from the Black Rock Campground. The trails are not shown on USGS topographic maps and can be difficult to follow at times, so you should have a good sense of direction if you venture out in this area. The Panorama Loop is our favorite moderate hike in this area. It explores a series of washes before climbing up to a ridgeline with a splendid view, then returns via another wash system.
101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert
by Jerry Schad and David Money Harris (Wilderness Press)
Black Rock Canyon is near the western edge of Joshua Tree National Park and is connected to the main park by a long and strenuous footpath. While it lacks the outlandish rock formations characteristic of the main park, it does have an exceptionally lush and beautiful assortment of prickly desert vegetation. An extensive but poorly marked trail network fans out from the Black Rock Campground. The best moderate hike in this area, the Panorama Loop explores a series of washes, climbs up to a ridgeline with splendid views, and then returns via another wash system.
Hiking Southern California
by Ron Adkison (Falcon Guides)
This rewarding high-desert hike follows one of the park’s westernmost canyons en route to a high peak in the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The hike up Black Rock Canyon to the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains is an excellent introduction to high-desert hiking. This trip makes a fine midwinter leg-stretcher, and hikers are rewarded with far-flung vistas from Peak 5195. This trip can be made as an overnighter if you are willing to carry water. Hikers can follow the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains for days and see few, if any, other hikers. Backpackers are required to sign in at the backcountry board at the trailhead. Always avoid this and any other desert hike during periods of thunderstorm activity—floods and lightning are real and dangerous possibilities.
The first part of this trail has especially diverse and interesting desert plant life. It passes a complex warren of trails that are shown on the Trails Illustrated map but not on the USGS topos, so route-finding requires care. From the backcountry board, the sandy trail leads east and then south through a forest of Joshua trees for 0.2 mile to a signed junction. Follow the CRHT east out of the wash. Look for Mojave yuccas, silver chollas, and junipers.
Okay hike but directions should have hikers make a loop the last couple of miles rather than an up-and-back trek. A better map with the loop can be received from the park ranger station at the head of the trail. Walking up the wash is loose sand is not my favorite hike but I understand why that is the easiest place to make the trail. Nice view from the top.
All in all this was a great hike. I've done it twice in the last year: once solo, once with my brother. The views, crisp air and terrain change are exceptional. There's a few great camp sites, but no reliable water source in the later summer and fall. The views from the peak are fantastic, from desert to mountains to valleys. I saw some evidence of bears (tracks), and talked with a couple regretful hikers who did not tree sling their food.
Sign in/up to upload photos.