Summary: Except for the .1 mile boulder scramble to the top of Mastodon Peak, this may be one of the easiest "hikes" of your life. The first and last bit of the trail follows an interpretive trail that is quite interesting and should be enjoyable for everyone on the hike.
This is really an extended version of the Nature Walk, but would make for an exceptional first peak for any child. Just be sure to help them up to the peak, as it could be a little scary for anyone afraid of heights.
The only problem with the peak is that at the top is a phallic petroglyph that in my estimation was not added by Cahuilla medicine men. You may have to explain it to children.
Along this hike you pass the remains of two mines, not very elaborate ones, but still. They are of limited interest, and could prove fascinating for children.
The loop back follows a wash where you can examine desert flora and boulder fields.
Trailhead: Take the 10 East from Los Angeles well past Palm Springs. When you are nearing Chiriaco Summit, you will see the sign for Joshua Tree National Park. Follow the signs, make a left and head into the park for 7 miles. Here you will see the ranger station on your right, and you need to make a right turn on Cottonwood Springs Road.
Park in one of the spaces provided and begin your hike.
I would recommend hanging around the springs for a bit and reading the signs along the interpretive trail. The last part of your loop is a continuation of this trail.
If you wish you can combine this trip with the Lost Palms Oasis to make this a 10.5 mile hike. (Lat:33.73424 Lon:-115.79913)
Trail Guides for Joshua Tree NP - Mastodon Peak Loop:
On Foot in Joshua Tree National Park
by Patty A. Furbush (M.I. Adventure Publications)
by Tom Sinestra and Ann Marie Brown (Avalon Travel)
Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Joshua Tree National Park (760)367-5500
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted 123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by BB on 5/6/2012
I hiked there yesterday and the weather was beautiful. I think the high was in the low 90's. There were a wide variety of wildflowers. We saw rabbits, ground squirrels and quail. Make sure you bring plenty of water. The views were beautiful and I will go back again. After the hike, we drove to the north end of the park and it was phenomenal. By then it was getting dark so we'll hike that end next time. The Joshua trees were amazing.
Reviewed by Mrprk Meanderer on 1/4/2009
We hiked to the top from the split with the Lost Palms Oasis trail. Beautiful views, but a bit scary with the wind. We could see the Salton Sea, but the tip of San Jacinto was obscured by clouds. Still glorious. We might not have gone up the right way, as I can't imagine taking a five year old up this. Thanks to the folks who maintain these trails!
Reviewed by DGH on 1/2/2007
A good walk for those with children - my 5, 7 & 9 year-olds managed the trail with no difficulty, and managed the peak one-at-a-time under escort. We did have an unintended detour up a wash, though, you've got to be careful to stay on the marked trail.
Reviewed by JZR on 4/9/2006
We did this hike after arriving at the Cottonwood Campground early afternoon. It was a nice warm-up hike and we got back just in time to start dinner and a campfire. A couple of old gold mine artifacts along the way, also saw a turtle right on the trail! Nice views, but I didnt see San Jacinto.
Reviewed by A.B. on 2/7/2005
I did this hike in February and found the climate to be very nice for hiking. The day time temperature was around 60, and the night time below 30. The hike is relatively easy, just follow the many signs. The only difficulty is making sure you follow the trail correctly down the many washes. The views from the top were MAGNIFICENT! You can see the Salton Sea and possibly San Jacinto Mountain with snow on top. I would absolutely recommend doing this hike if you are in the area.
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