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Pets allowed
No
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Hidden Valley Nature Trail is an ideal hike for those looking for a quick and easy walk through some of Joshua Tree National Park's most iconic scenery, and its proximity to Hidden Valley Campground makes it a must for those staying overnight there. This route leads through a tight passageway that was blasted out by Bill Keys to access grazing land in 1936 just prior the area's designation as a national park. While the trail is just a mile long, give yourself plenty of time to explore the flora and rockpiles. These formations are monzogranite that intruded upward and away from the earth's crust while still molten, but cooled while still below miles of earth and rock. Joints in these monolithic formations developed from the weight of the strata above, and groundwater seepage eroded along these joints to create broader cracks and, in many cases, completely detached boulders that remain in place. As the wind and water elements erode the surface, these formations are exposed as fully formed rockpiles. You'll likely see climbers enjoying the fruits of this incredible process as you walk the loop.

Joshua trees, creosote bushes, paperbag bushes, beavertail cacti, pinyon pines, California juniper, the ubiquitous yucca ... the list of plants that make this walk something like a tour through a desert garden is long and varied, and this variety is yet another reason to budget a good amount of time to complete this short loop. Interpretive signs do an excellent job identifying these plants and discussing their role in the larger ecosystem. You'll also see countless lizards along the way.

Touring the loop in a clockwise direction means you will be climbing stairs as you reach the end of the trial; while these stairs aren't overly taxing, if you'd rather descend them, make sure you head right when you reach the loop and continue in a counterclockwise direction. There is a large picnic area adjacent to the Hidden Valley Nature Trail parking lot, and this makes for a great spot to enjoy lunch after a morning walk on the trail.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Pros

Unique rock formations. Desert flora and fauna. Short loop. Interpretive signs.

Cons

Some crowds. Exposure to sun and heat.

Trailhead Elevation

4,235.00 ft (1,290.83 m)

Net Elevation Gain

50.00 ft (15.24 m)

Address

CA 92277
United States

Features

Rock climbing
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

03/22/2016
Great little loop hike. Certainly the one of the park's most popular though, so anticipate crowds in the peak season (spring).
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