Dec 17, 2010 at 11:29 am #1266673
@highsierraguyLocale: Northern California
My buddy and I are thinking of heading down to Joshua Tree the week after Christmas to do some backpacking and get a few miles in. Neither of us have ever been. Can anyone recommend some good spots within the park to go? Specific trails or destinations? Neither of us have hiked in the dessert before, any tips or advice?
DanDec 18, 2010 at 1:15 am #1675311
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
If you like Joshua trees/ cool rocks / rock climbing, then definitely use the park's north entrance (they will give you a map with attractions indicated when you pay your entrance fee) and head for the various campgrounds in that area.
If you like cool Palm trees and panoramic views — then enter through the southwestern gate. There are campgrounds there too, but usually less people. You can also hike a mile or so toward the palms — "wild camp" — and feel like you have the whole desert to yourselves.
There are also plenty of places to hike and wild camp in the center and western parts.
Finally, if you plan to spend multiple days, you can park your car at a different area every night (or every few nights) to expand your reach.Dec 18, 2010 at 7:29 am #1675333
I live in Joshua tree all winter and it is a really fun place to hike. If you go to Nomad Ventures, the gear shop in the town of Joshua Tree right outside the park, they have a great book of "25 favorite hikes" which include a bunch of day hikes ranging from .5 miles to 20 mile out-and-backs.
The "California Riding and Hiking Trail" makes a big loop and depending on your pace might be a great 2-3 night hike. Many of the hikes terminate at mines, often these are surrounded by cool old equipment. Also, if you run late on your hikes, know that even the most obvious desert trails mysteriously disappear after sunset and it is easy to start randomly following a wash instead!
Regarding camping: It is unlikely that you will come anywhere close to getting a regular camping sight in the park that time of year, as climbers from all over come to spend the christmas/new years time in the park. However, there are "out of bounds" camping allowd, check the regulations and areas. (The desert is more fragile than it looks, but I bet you knew that!)
There is no water available in the park, so have plenty of containers with you in the car so that you don't constantly have to make the drive in and out of the park for water. :)
Don't miss the "Sams Pizza (and indian food)" or the Thai restaurant in town, if you're into that sort of thing, and enjoy!
-Kate.Dec 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm #1676833
Check out the Lost Palms Oasis for a day hike,
or perhaps the Boyscout Trail for an easy low mileage overnight
id also echo what Cathryn mentioned above bring LOTS of water, be vigilant of the trail when navigating through the washes, and be sure to camp outside of the washes.Dec 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm #1676838
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