Yucca Valley, California

Backpack the California Riding and Hiking Trail in Joshua Tree

37 Miles Total - Point-to-Point Trail

Originally added by Bradley Burgess

Experience Joshua Tree National Park's rugged beauty from the 37 mile backcountry California Riding and Hiking Trail.

The starting point for this hike is at the Black Rock campground, 5 miles from the town of Yucca Valley. You'll need to self register for a free backcountry permit before starting.

The first section of the trail follows a wash then the trail narrows and, after only a mile or two, you'll begin climbing. This will be almost all of the climbing you'll do on the entire hike. The trail winds up and over a pass, with an optional side trail to the summit of 5516" Eureka Peak, before beginning the descent to the Upper Covington Flats area. After hiking through a valley for a short time, you'll start the second (and last) significant climb of the hike. This section is the most remote and with views of the surrounding mountains and the Salton Sea off in the distance, arguably the most scenic as well.

After once again descending to the low desert, you'll cross Key's View road at 17.4 miles. With this being close to the mid point of the trail, it's a good spot to cache water. Another .8 mile will bring you to Ryan Campground. The second half of the trail represents the easier portion, with the majority of it being relatively flat, easy going hiking.  

Leaving the campground takes you on the back side of 5457" Ryan Mountain before leading you through wide open desert and onto a road crossing very close to the White Tank Campground. After crossing the road and passing behind Belle campground, there's less than seven miles to go. The trail ends just inside the park boundary, by the North Entrance station.

The entire trail can be done as an ambitious overnighter or as a three day, two night hike. The most important consideration for this hike is staying hydrated. There are no water sources along the trail, so packing and caching plenty of water is essential. Camping is allowed anywhere in the backcountry provided your campsite is one mile from any road, and 500 feet off the trail. All in all, this trail is a fantastic way to take in all of the park's various ecosystems with hefty amounts of solitude.

Read More

Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Scenic

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Yucca Valley, California

Black Rock Equestrian Campground

From $20/night

Desert Hot Springs, California

Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA

Twentynine Palms, California

Indian Cove Campground

From $20/night

Johnson Valley, California

Big Pine Equestrian Group Campground

From $110/night

Nearby Adventures

Relax on Eureka Peak

0.6 Miles Round Trip - 100 ft gain

Hike the Covington Crest Trail

4.2 Miles Round Trip - 200 ft gain

Tours

Win a Vacation Getaway to Santa Cruz!

Experience all Santa Cruz County has to offer this season! Enter to win a customized “Let’s Cruz” vacation getaway and choose from an array of activities to enhance your visit. 

Grand prize includes a 2-night stay at a three-bedroom condo at Pajaro Dunes Resort, a $150 “Capitola Dine & Shop Experience” gift certificate in Capitola Village, a Craftbar Experience at Annieglass Studios for four guests, four tickets to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and four tickets to Roaring Camp Railroads.

Customize your “Let’s Cruz” vacation package entry by selecting four activities below to include outdoor adventure, dining, beer and wine tasting, family fun, spa treatments, and relaxation.