Two of the most distinctive cacti in Joshua Tree National Park include the ocotillo, with long, impossibly thin fingers that culminate in a tiny red blossom, and the fuzzy, almost friendly-looking teddy-bear cholla, also known as jumping cholla. Don't be fooled by the fuzzy appearance, however; the cholla cactus is one of the most tenacious and painful cacti in the park as well. The branches of these unique plants grow in cylindrical joints that easily detatch, or jump, from the main plant when spines hook into some unlucky flesh, ensuring the passerby gets stuck with an entire segment of the plant. While this sounds diabolical, there is actually a good reason for this adaptation: the plant reproduces through these detatched joints that are relocated by their carriers.
This short interpretive trail provides some intimate views of this unusual grove that seems to appear out of nowhere. The stop is a little far from other attractions, but it is still very much worth the time if you are passing by or moving from the Cottonwood Visitor Center to the park's northern entrances (or vice versa). The path here is wide and easily accessible, so this is a great walk for children as long as they are supervised. There are several spots where the cacti are growing quite close to the path. You'll see acres of cholla and maybe a cactus wren or perhaps a wood rat, both of which are unperturbed by the spines. In spring, the cholla offers beautiful yellow blooms. The loop is easily walked in 30 minutes or less, depending on the time you take with the informative nature trail guide that is available at the trailhead.