When we visited Thousand Palms Preserve the other day, the extremely helpful host (who has lived and hiked in this area for 40 years) told us of his favorite hike in Joshua Tree National Park. It's a combination of the North View, Maze and Window Rock trails (in that order). This hike is not on the park map yet, possibly because there is limited parking, but there is good signage throughout the trail and it turned out to be an excellent 7.5 mile loop hike.
To reach the trail head from the town of Joshua Tree, head South on Park Blvd. and go 1.7 miles past the National Park entrance kiosk. There will be a dirt pullout on the East side of the road with room for about four vehicles. This was about 40 miles from our home base.
|We're back in the land of boulder strewn hills!|
|The fantastic stacked rocks frame views into the desert towns to the North.|
|This amazing landscape was created by magma intruding into the existing rock eons ago,|
then ages of erosion from groundwater, then the surface soil eroded away leaving us with this wonderland to explore!
|Bright pink baby barrel cacti caught my eye all day long...|
|Sometimes the eroded rocks look like a wall stacked by a person!.|
|The Park's namesake Joshua Trees show up in pockets on this hike.|
|The deserts version of fall colors.|
|The Maze was a great spot to stop for lunch and do a little boulder exploring.|
|Bad hair day.|
|Window Rock is visible at the top of the peak on the right.|
|Hans walks through bouldery beauty.|
It's always a treat to hike among trees and greenery when you're in the desert and we found a beautiful high desert oasis waiting for us at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Located about 20 miles from our RV park near the small town of Morongo Valley, the Preserve has about four miles of trails looping through and around wetlands, plus you can hike another four miles down Big Morongo Canyon towards Desert Hot Springs. We decided to save the "down the canyon" hike for a cooler day and instead hiked all of the trails around the wetlands.
|Boardwalk trails protect the fragile wetlands.|
|Yucca Ridge Trail took us above the wetlands for some fantastic views of the contrasting landscape.|
It's easy to see where the water is around here!
|With miles of dry, scrub covered hills around the Preserve it is easy to understand |
why this is a major bird stopover site in spring and fall.
|Looking North, the Preserve is densely packed with fremont cottonwood, honey mesquite, dwarf willow and much more.|
|The river of green continues into Big Morongo Canyon.|
Plenty of sitting areas are scattered throughout the Preserve, great for bird watching.
|The Marsh Trail winds through the thick of it all with inviting places to sit along the way.|