Pop quiz: Closest Joshua Tree trail to the LA metro area? It’s Hi-View Nature Trail near Yucca Valley’s Black Rock entrance to the national park. Overlooked, but worth looking over. This 1.3-mile loop doesn’t require an entry fee, gains 325 feet in elevation, and offers a fresh perspective on the park through, well, high views, interpretive trail markers, and minimal foot traffic.
Grab a map/guide at the Black Rock visitor center and drive west along a dirt road to the never-packed parking lot and marked trailhead through a gap in the wooden fence. At the first junction, go right for a gradual ascent, left for a steep climb. Either way, you’re going up! As you do, look down on Yucca Valley to the north and admire snowcapped San Gorgonio and its fellow mountain peaks to the west. Be sure to admire the native flora as you pass alongside junipers, pinyons, and perhaps blooming buds of Joshua Trees, nolinas, beavertail, and blue sage.
Continue ascending as the trail turns north, listening and looking for both pinyon and western scrub jays, as well as cactus wren, poorwills, and soaring turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks. The trail’s apex lies at 4,300 feet, where you can a register as you savor 360-degree views that now include vistas deep into Black Rock Canyon. Hi-ho for Hi-View!
BONUS ARTS: Just northwest of Yucca Valley is the small community of Pioneertown, built as an Old West movie set by the likes of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Many Western classics were filmed here, including High Noon and The Cisco Kid. Walk down Mane Street and enjoy the sights (minus the tumbleweeds and gunfights) and shop for local art. For a barbecue dinner and live entertainment, stop by the legendary Pappy & Harriet’s, a shoot-kickin’ venue that has hosted Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, and Leon Russell, and still draws top rock and country acts year-round. Welcome to the wild, wild West!
To get to Hi-View Nature Trail, take the I-10 east to CA-62. Stay on the CA-62 for 21 miles, turning right onto Joshua Ln., following it for 4.6 miles. Turn right onto San Marino Dr., followed by an immediate left onto Black Rock Canyon Rd. Turn right at the campground, following signs for the trail. The dirt road ends at the lot. No dogs. To get to Pioneertown, take the CA-62 for 19 miles and turn left onto Pioneertown Rd. Continue 4 miles to Pappy & Harriet’s. Pioneertown is dog-friendly!