Trio of Trails

Hike a classic circuit of short trails in Joshua Tree National Park

View from Keys View Joshua Tree

Get into Joshua Tree National Park early and hit the classic circuit of short trails before the crowds arrive. We recommend starting at the west entrance and driving to the Hidden Valley trailhead.

Hike the classic circuit of short trails at Joshua Tree National Park

This 1-mile loop is an amphitheater and playground of boulders. The trail winds through a bounty of cactus, pinyon, juniper, and—of course— Joshua trees, with their spiny tops and branches artfully molded by nature in whimsical contortions.

Hike the classic circuit of short trails at Joshua Tree National Park

Hike the loop, scamper up boulders for bird’s-eye views, and watch as rock climbers scramble to the tip-tops of narrow rocks.

Gallery image 1 of 2
Gallery image 2 of 2

Next stop: Barker Dam Loop, just 5 minutes away by car. The trail is 1.5 miles among smooth rock face, stacks of boulders, and fields of Joshua trees. If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll see a bighorn sheep, though you’re more likely to see the ancient petroglyphs at the end of the trail.

Gallery image 1 of 1

Onward to the third stop: Keys View. This is a good spot for having a packed lunch. At first it feels like drive-in scenery, and it kind of is! As the main overlook in the park, Keys is just a short walk up from the (often crowded) parking lot. Do it anyhow, and snap your selfies overlooking the Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea, and Palm Springs’ impressive Mount San Jacinto.

Hike the classic circuit of short trails at Joshua Tree National Park

Make a stop at the visitor center just outside the west entrance to the park. Pick up a map and talk to a park ranger. No dogs.

WHERE TO EAT & STAY:The town of Joshua Tree maintains a high desert bohemian and arts vibe that feels uninfluenced by social influencers (for now). Grab a beer at the Joshua Tree Saloon, where the Old West welcome hikers, climbers, campers, and locals eating everything from jalapeño poppers to baskets of baby back ribs basted in a homemade Jack Daniels No. 7 BBQ.Wash everything down with one of the seasonal brews or a staple Guinness.

Where to eat and drink in Joshua Tree

We also really like Pie for the People—eat in or take out from this pizzeria that’s become a beloved locals’ favorite for its hand-forged pies. Try the David Bowie: mozzarella, bacon, roasted pineapple, jalapeños, Guinness caramelized onion, plum sauce—yum! Camping at Joshua Tree is very popular, with plenty of options depending on what you like (and what you can get!).

Unique airstream experience in Joshua Tree

WEEKEND SHERPA RECOMMENDS: More recently, LA’s influence is coming through among artists who have moved to the area or own properties and are setting up unique stays at or near their abodes. Like this Airstream, located a few minutes from town up a dirt road, on 1.5 acres overlooking the desert landscape, including Joshua Tree National Park. The artisan touches range from sweet patio lighting and firepit warmth to Pendleton wool blankets for a spirit of the west desert decor.

Unique airstream experience in Joshua Tree

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Fall for the Treasures of North Lake Tahoe

    North Lake Tahoe in fall is an amazing time. It’s less crowded, many hiking and biking trails are open, sunsets and starry nights are spectacular, and fields of aspens are a splendor across the region.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Ride and Seek

    Oceanside breezes, beautiful beaches, a car-free pathway for biking, and beer at the end: You’re on a roll! The San Mateo Coast was made for beach hopping and beer tasting …

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Redwoods, Beach, Banner View!

    Explore among the redwoods in Henry Cowell State Park on this magical 5-mile hike featuring the big trees, a beach, and a beautiful view from an observation deck.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset

    GOAT (greatest of all time) Sonoma Coast experience? Hike the Kortum Trail, wine taste on a patio overlooking the Russian River, and catch a sensational sunset at, yep, Goat Rock Beach.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Shakespeare Bridge + Secret Garden

    Romeo, Romeo, we all know how this goes, but do you know how to go to the Shakespeare Bridge and secret gardens? We’ve got the online do-it-yourself hiking route for you.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Hidden Stairways of SF: Urban Hike

    This guided hike sold out fast, but new dates have been added! Get outdoors and explore the hidden stairways and gardens of San Francisco anew. Small group and socially distanced.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Boontime!

    Glamp in a tent cabin or stay in private patio room among redwoods in the heart of Russian River. And do some wine tasting at these two beautiful vineyards with airy cabanas and gorgeous views.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Bodega's Hidden Hike-in Beach

    Bodega Head has a mystical hike-in beach trail through secret sand dunes. Hike in, then enjoy the West's tastiest BBQ brisket on a patio overlooking Bodega Bay Harbor.

    View