Joshua Tree National Park: Black Rock Hikes

Our final day in Joshua Tree National Park we hiked more than I think I’ve ever hiked in one day — 12+ miles, logging more than 34,500 steps!

After our previous day exploring the central areas of the park, which are definitely the busiest areas of the park, it was wonderful escaping to the much less visited northwestern quadrant to hike in Black Rock and the north-central section to hike in Indian Cove.

Day 3 Itinerary: Black Rock and Indian Cove Hikes

We set out early for a morning hike to the summit of Warren Peak, which is a 6.3-mile, out-and-back hike with 1,110 feet of gain. As we planned our hikes the night before, we noticed we could string several hikes together that all stemmed off the single trail from the trailhead. If it’s a nice day and you have the time, I would recommend this approach!

The shared trail back to where the hikes split off winds through a dry wash surrounded by rock piles, bushes, and trees. This section of the park is quite different – it must get more water/different weather because there’s a greater diversity of plants here.

After veering right at several forks in the trail, we came to our final fork before the summit — the trail to the right taking you to Warren Peak and the trail to the left taking you to Warren View.

We began by heading right to the summit, which was a fairly quick scramble to the top. It was incredibly windy at the top, and Brian’s big-brimmed sunhat kept getting flipped up! It was clear out, and we had incredible 360 degree views of the surrounding area.

It was a short hike back to the trail split and over to Warren View. This much smaller hill has a nice view of the peak we had just summitted as well as the mountains to the west.

Heading back to one of the previous splits on the trail, we decided to tackle Panorama Loop, adding 2.8 miles and some additional gain to our morning.

We began by hiking through a lovely area filled with Joshua trees. There was no one in sight – we had passed one guy on our hike in and two women heading to Warren Peak as we headed toward Warren View. It was such a nice reprieve!

After a while the trail took us up to the ridgeline of the Little San Bernadino Mountains, which we followed in a loop with — believe it or not! — panoramic views. There was one mini summit we scrambled up that was windy like Warren Peak, but the rest of the hike was low enough that we had an enjoyable breeze and sunshine.

After concluding this series of hikes, we headed back to our car for lunch and then relocated to the trailhead of Hi-View Nature Trail, which was down a nearby road replete with potholes. I was tired after our morning hikes so didn’t fully appreciate this 1.3-mile loop. We set out for the viewpoint, hiking up the western side of the ridge and then back down into a valley before returning to our car.

I caught a second wind on our drive to Indian Cove — we stopped at one of the northern entrances to the park to take a few photos and loop through Mara Oasis before heading off a side road to the Indian Cove campground. The campground was closed so we had to park along the road and walk to and through the campground to get to our hiking destination, the Indian Cove Nature Trail.

We were quickly losing daylight so we made brisk work of completing the loop, only stopping to read some of the plaques about the indigenous people who lived in this area and how they made use of the surrounding flora and fauna.

It was a long third day in the park but also my favorite day — it was so nice to be suffering from the physically exhaustion of hiking v. the mental exhaustion of work and COVID-19 for a change.

If you’re looking for a relatively accessible desert escape for a few days, I recommend going off the grid in Joshua Tree National Park!

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