Backpack the California Riding and Hiking Trail in Joshua Tree

Rate this Adventure 37 miles  - Point-to-Point Trail

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!

Stay Nearby

Yucca Valley, California

Black Rock Equestrian Campground

Overview Black Rock Horse Campground lies among one of the thickest Joshua tree forests in Joshua Tree National Park. Its location on the park's northern perimeter makes it a popular rest stop for ...

From $20/night

Desert Hot Springs, California

Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA

Twentynine Palms, California

Indian Cove Campground

Overview Indian Cove Campground lies amid the huge, steep rock formations for which Joshua Tree National Park is known. Because of its proximity to many rock climbing routes, it is a popular campin...

From $20/night

Joshua Tree, California

Nevada Trail Cabin

This cozy yet modern cabin is the perfect desert hideaway and is accessed by dirt roads. Enjoy your stay with two bedrooms featuring queen beds, AC/Heat, an over-sized bathroom, a full kitchen to ...

From $162.50/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Camp at Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree

    Black Rock Campground is in the northern perimeter of Joshua Tree National Park and is a popular location for hikers, horseback riders, rock climbers, and RV campers. Black Rock Campground is partially shaded with Joshua Trees, and is typically bu...

    4144 ft gain

  • Relax on Eureka Peak

    Accessing Covington Flats in Joshua Tree National Park requires a high ground-clearance overland vehicle. Bring spare water and emergency tools incase of a breakdown.From Route 62 in Yucca Valley, CA take La Contenta Dr. South toward Joshua Tree. ...

    0.6 miles 100 ft gain

  • Hike the Covington Crest Trail

    Accessing Covington Flats in Joshua Tree National Park requires a high ground-clearance overland vehicle. In the summer months a standard car might make it to the parking lot after the 7.5 mile off-road drive, but should always be prepared for sof...

    4.2 miles 200 ft gain

  • Visit Historic Pioneertown

    Here in California we have a lot of desert to sift through. When trying to figure out how to navigate the mass, you have to know the places worth fighting the brutal heat or chilling cold. Pioneertown will lure you in regardless. You will see why ...