Ryan Mountain Trail

Joshua Tree National Park, California
Elevation Gain1,304ft
Trailhead Elevation4,401ft
Elevation Min/Max4401/5476ft
Elevation Start/End4401/4401ft

Ryan Mountain Trail

Ryan Mountain Trail is a hiking trail in Riverside County, California. It is within Joshua Tree National Park. It is 1.4 miles long and begins at 4,401 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,304 feet. Near the trailhead there are parking and restrooms. Along the trail there are bare rocks. The trail ends near Ryan Mountain (elevation 5,456 feet). There is also a viewpoint near the end of the trail. This trail connects with the following: Sheep Pass Connector Trail.

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Ryan Mountain Trail Trip Reports

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Lakeside, CA
Explorer | 14 pts
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Burlington, CT
Explorer | 12 pts
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Farmer Market, CA
Explorer | 35 pts
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Amazing views, well kept trails, and good elevation change. Great for the dogs!
Escondido, CA
Pathfinder | 61 pts
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This is a must do hike. The view up the the south ridge trail just keeps getting better until you reach the top. Where it is a panoramic view from the lookout tower. We started about 6:45 on Fri. 8/1/08 and were in the shade virtually the entire climb. We were the first of the day to the top and met Paul, who was manning the tower. Very informative and helpful. We spent more time than planned at the top so plan accordingly. We made the loop to the PCT and down Devils slide and then to Ernie Maxwell. I don't suggest this unless you park at the Enie Maxwell trailhead. The road back up to The South ridge trailhead was very steep and entirely in the sun at the hottest time of day. Not a great way to finish an otherwise very enjoyable hike.
Arlington, VA
Adventurer | 251 pts
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Quite a nice hike, short (3 mi RT) with nice elevation gain and nice views. The view(s) from the top from any direction are well worth the trip up!!! Be sure to bring plenty of water though because even though the length is short, it's all uphill and you want to remain properly hydrated in the heat. Some beautiful desert flowers were blooming right now --- pinks, oranges, whites. Just a really gorgeous trail and trip.
Eatontown, NJ
Trailblazer | 501 pts
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Windy, and cool, but nice at this time of year. The trail was great and quite challenging. Great vistas at the top, though the smog makes is quite sad. Darned L.A.
Los Angeles, CA
Adventurer | 341 pts
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An extremely satisfying and very easy hike. I was at the trailhead by 7:00 A.M. and was at the peak by 8:30. The views were spectacular. It was a clear day and you could see the entire park as well as the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio peaks. I got quite a view great panoramic photographs. On my descent I spotted and was able to photograph three Big Horn Sheep. Lucky me. Overall an experience I will treasure for a long time.
Cowan Heights, CA
Pathfinder | 184 pts
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Yuma, AZ
Explorer | 40 pts
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A well maintained trail climbs steeply from the high desert floor to its lofty terminis atop Ryan Mountain. Be prepared for spectacular views in all directions including glimpses of San Giogiano and San Jacinto Peaks. Recommend trekking poles for this one.

Ryan Mountain Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Jerry Schad and David Money Harris
"Elongated Ryan Mountain rises above the boulder-studded plains of Lost Horse and Queen Valleys in Joshua Tree National Park. The view from the top is arguably the best in the national park, encompassing the blocky summits of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, the intricately dissected Wonderland of Rocks, and a succession of shimmering basins and skeletal mountain ranges stretching east toward the Colorado River and south toward Baja California."
Bill Cunningham & Polly Cunningham
"What a misnomer! This was never a city and the pines are scarce, but it’s a lovely green spot to visit. Bighorn sheep are drawn to this desert refuge, especially during summer. The former mining camp is tucked in a picturesque desert ravine with dramatic"
Bill & Polly Cunningham
"The trail leaves from the parking area through a massive boulder gate of White Tank granite sculpted by selective erosion. This well-signed official park trail is quite a display of rock workmanship. Steeper portions of the trail feature stair-steps artfully constructed from plentiful native rocks, so it's easy walking up and no skidding going down. The trail winds around the hill by the trailhead, and takes a relatively gentle slope to the peak. If you have spent several days walking nature trails, visiting mine sites, and hiking canyon washes, this peak climb provides a welcome aerial view of where you've been in the central portion of the park. This moderate out and back hike provides a central panorama of the park from an easily accessible peak."
Ron Adkison
"This excellent trail leads to a high, isolated mountain in the west-central area of the park. Expansive vistas open up across much of Joshua Tree and the surrounding desert. Ryan Mountain, one of the highest peaks in Joshua Tree National Park, is an isolated massif rising between the broad, Joshua tree–covered flats of Lost Horse Valley to the west and Queen Valley to the east. Its open summit and isolated location affords panoramic views of much of the park, including the Queen and Little San Bernardino Mountains and the rockbound landscape of the Wonderland of Rocks. The hike follows one of the best constructed trails in Joshua Tree, though it does rise at a steady, moderate grade. It’s an enjoyable hike from autumn through spring, but the mountain is often swept by strong winds. Winter is an ideal time to hike here, when the desert air is clear and vistas stretch to far horizons."
Allen Riedel
"Ryan is perhaps the park’s most popular mountain to climb. The trail to its summit is incredibly easy to follow and well-used. Many summits in the park do not have maintained trails, so this one is easier to access. It is not so overcrowded as to be considered a “freeway,” but there will almost always be someone else on the trail, even on weekdays. There isn’t much shade along the way, and only an occasional rock or rock overhang to provide a bit of respite from the sun. Joshua trees do sporadically line the lower portion of the trail, but they are not known for their arboreal covering."
"J. D. and Thomas Ryan, owners of the lucrative Lost Horse Mine, built a homestead around 1900, and the bright red adobe walls are still visible. The mountain overlooking their homestead has come to be known as Ryan Mountain. At 5,461 feet, it’s one of the tallest peaks in Joshua Tree National Park. Ryan Mountain offers perhaps the best panoramic view in the park. In the distance, the tall summits of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, capped with snow in the winter and spring, rise above the scenic features of Joshua Tree."

Trail Information

Joshua Tree National Park
Nearby City
Joshua Tree National Park
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Joshua Tree National Park
Local Contacts
Trails Illustrated Joshua Tree or USGS Indian Cove and Keys View 7.5'
Local Maps