This trail, adjacent to the much more traveled Barker Dam Trail, leads hikers along Joshua tree-lined trails to one of the best preserved gold stamp mines in the area. The prolific history of the area that is evident in the ruins of Wonderland Ranch and the old Wall Street Mill is strongly juxtaposed against the empty beauty of the desert.
In the early 1900s, the land that is now protected as Joshua Tree National Park was once littered with pioneering miners hungry for gold and silver. Ore abounds in this desert landscape, and once extracted this ore would be sent to mills like Wall Street Mill to be crushed and sifted through for the two precious metals. Because these mining endeavors are so emblematic of the western pioneering spirit and the Wall Street Mill is so well preserved, it and the area surrounding are now listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Needless to say, if you are interested in geology, history, or ecology, this is a must-see.
Additionally, the Wonderland Ranch is a worthy side hike, though a bit of off-trail negotiation is required. Like the site around the mill, these ruins offer a peek back 100 years ago into the lives of miners and pioneers in the area. Although very little is known about the Ohlson family aside from the fact that they were enticed to the region by the prospect of mining, it’s fascinating to pick your way around the ruins, check out the old vehicles, and imagine what life must have been like for the family.
Many rock climbers use this and the Barker Dam Trail to access “The Wanderland," also known as The Wonderland of Rocks. This area, located just northeast of the Barker Dam area, is stuffed full of incredible rock. The complex topography houses a mind-boggling number of routes and problems, most of which are moderate to more difficult three to four star trad routes.