Only having one day at Joshua Tree National Park, I wanted to make a point to see as much as possible in the short amount of time. The first hike that I did was the 49 Palms Oasis hike. For an in depth look at that gorgeous trail check out the blog A Desert Oasis.
The next stop was the popular Hidden Valley Trail. This hike is a popular one for many reasons, it's surrounded by picnic areas and a nearby campground, it's right off the main road, it's only a one mile loop, and it's a gorgeous nature walk that is well maintained and easy for all levels.
To get to the trailhead for Hidden Valley, turn right off of park road coming from Joshua Tree, and you'll shortly come to a large parking lot and picnic area. The trail is easily accessible through a rock opening. After following along for a few meters, the trail splits. Being a loop, you can pick either way to start. Along the trail there are informative signs talking about the wildlife and landscape of Hidden Valley and all of Joshua Tree.
This trail is also incredibly popular with rock climbers and recreational scramblers as I'll call them. The entire loop is surrounded by boulders of every shape and size so its a great place to practice climbing around or head to a steeper rock face to do some roped climbs.
I did manage to lose the trail once because the dirt and brush make many areas look like a trail. Luckily it's a heavily populated trail with people coming in both directions and it's a valley surrounded by boulders so it's hard to get off the trail for long. The loop takes between 30-45 minutes or longer if you explore the boulders. It's a great introduction to what Joshua Tree has to offer or finish your day off with a quick stroll. Watch the whole episode with all three hikes1
WHAT TO KNOW:
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree California
Trailhead: From Joshua Tree, turn right from Park Blvd into the Hidden Valley Parking Lot. From the Oasis Visitor Center, take a left from Park Blvd.
Entrance Fee: An entrance fee is required. $20 covers 7 days. $30 for an annual pass. $10 bicycle or entrance on foot.
Distance: 1 mile loop
Time: 30-45 minutes. Longer if you plan to climb the boulders and explore.
Elevation: 52' each way
Best Time to Hike: A very popular hike that can be done year-round. Summers can be hot and crowded. Spring and Fall midweek are the best times for fewer crowds.
What to Bring: Water. While this is a short hike, the desert still gets very hot with little to no shade. Sunscreen or a hat are also strongly recommended. A snack or lunch to enjoy at the picnic tables.
NEED TO KNOW: Rattlesnakes are popular in the desert and for the most part harmless when left alone. Keep a safe distance and stay on the trail. No pets are allowed.