Going wild on Wall Street doesn’t have to mean buying and selling stocks. It can be about hiking and exploring a quiet trail in Joshua Tree National Park. One that leads to the intruiging ruins of Wall Street Mill, left over from gold-mining days. The 2.8-mile out-and-back (round-trip) trail begins right next door to the park’s most popular hike, Barker Dam. Leave that to the others and start your adventure at the Wall Street Mill trailhead.
The first trail junction, just 0.25 mile from the start, offers a quick left-turn detour to the bright pink ruins of Wonderland Ranch, once home to a family of gold seekers. Back on the main trail, continue to another spur trail on the left, which leads to the first of three old cars along the hike.
After returning to the main path, pass a rusted water pump and windmill at the 0.6-mile mark. Look for dense patches of purple mat flowers and yellow bursts of brittlebush and desert dandelions. One of the last gunfights of the Old West took place along this stretch of trail back in 1943, when mill owner Bill Keys shot and killed his neighbor Worth Bagley in what was later ruled self-defense. Two more rusted cars signal your arrival at Wall Street Mill.
The well-preserved stamp mill extracted gold from ore mined at nearby Desert Queen Mine. You can inspect the mill from all angles and enjoy a backdrop of Joshua trees, granite boulders, and piñon pines. It’s a place to linger and take in Joshua Tree’s not-so-distant past—Bill Keys only died in 1969.
STAY: Ryan Campground, with 31 sites, is a first-come, first-served campground that is convenient to all of the hikes in the heart of the park. It’s got an amazing view of the Lost Horse Valley area at sunset, easy access to the ruins of nearby Ryan Ranch, and is much quieter than Hidden Valley or Jumbo Rocks. For more information visit the park’s camping information page.
From the West Entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, follow Park Blvd. 9 miles and turn left on Barker Dam Rd. Continue 1.5 miles to the Barker Dam parking lot. The Wall Street Mill trail is just to the right of the Barker Dam trail. No dogs on trails in the national park. Entrance fee is $25 per vehicle for 7 days—but free this weekend, April 22–23, 2017.