California Riding and Hiking Trail

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Elevation Gain1,492ft
Trailhead Elevation3,981ft
Elevation Min/Max3967/5085ft
Elevation Start/End3981/3981ft

California Riding and Hiking Trail

California Riding and Hiking Trail is a hiking and horse trail in San Bernardino County and Riverside County, California. It is within Joshua Tree National Park. It is 5.3 miles long and begins at 3,981 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 10.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,492 feet. This trail connects with the following: Black Rock Canyon Trail.

California Riding and Hiking Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire (Wilderness Press)
David & Jennifer Money Harris
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"The California Riding and Hiking Trails Act was passed in 1945 to establish a trail system spanning the entire state. The ambitious project was never completed, and much of it fell into disuse. However, several segments of the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) still exist, and the 37-mile part through Joshua Tree National Park offers a grand tour of the main park. There is nothing like crossing the park on foot to gain an intimate appreciation of the topography and desert life of this region."
"Neither wide nor well-pruned, this section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail is evidently not heavily traveled, although it is frequently signed with arrows and mileposts. This is definitely a long-pants excursion or your legs will suffer on both the basic trail and the side trip to Quail Mountain. Evidence of wildlife is considerably more plentiful on the first 5 miles of the trail from Covington Flat—deer, sheep, rabbits, rodents, coyotes—than elsewhere on the trail. A long, but gentle point-to-point hike in open desert, washes, and canyons, with an optional side trip to the Lang Cabin and Mine up Johnny Lang Canyon."

California Riding and Hiking Trail Trip Reports

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We have done this trail twice now. We park at the west trailhead, hike to the top of Quail Mountain and then back to the car. It's a perfect two day trip. Although we still aren't sure which peak is actually quail mountain. But from either peak you can see for miles in all directions. Check out the weather report for wind conditions. It gets crazy out there!
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While it was a bit of a let down to not see as many trailblazers on this trek, it was enjoyable none the less. The hiking weather was perfect and the views were humbling and spectacular. This hike is definitely a redo with a larger group as the trip in from Covington was awesome and low key in strenuous climbing. A car at either end would have allowed for a complete trek with a jaunt up to Quail mountain. Either way, we had a beautiful view and a relaxing time with a bit of light rock climbing. It was a wonderful experience. Trips like this make you look forward to the next and the next. Joshua Tree is full of adventure but limited in descent hiking temperatures. We really enjoyed this time. To see more about trailblazer adventures go to

California Riding and Hiking Trail Photos

Trail Information

Joshua Tree National Park
Nearby City
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Joshua Tree South, E. Deception Canyon, and Keys View
Local Maps

Trail Log