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Skull Rock Nature Trail

Easy/Intermediate
 3.8 (26) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A nature trail that is great for wildflowers in the spring, and provides access to Skull Rock.


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Map Key

1.8

Miles

2.8

KM

Loop

4,432' 1,351 m

High

4,324' 1,318 m

Low

147' 45 m

Up

147' 45 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

7%

Max Grade (4°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Wildflowers

Family Friendly The trail is an easy hike through the giant rocks of Joshua Tree National Park. Placards provide information about the desert environment surrounding you.

Overview

A popular trail with lots of opportunities to climb and explore the area.

Description

The trailhead is located on Park Boulevard near the Jumbo Rocks Campground on the 29 Palms side of the park. There is parking on both sides of the road, which can fill up in the spring and on the weekends. It's a popular trail due to Skull Rock and the large boulder fields that provide opportunities for climbing and exploring.

The trail departs the road and passes through large boulder field on either side of the trail before it turns to the left and starts to follow a gravel and sand wash. The road is never far from the trail, so the sounds of the cars is ever present. In the spring, wildflowers bloom along both sides of the trail. The trail moves between some boulders, where a giant rock sits in the middle of the trail that you need to squeeze around .2 miles. It exits the boulders and then the trail goes off to the left and starts to climb along a ridge where lots of wildflowers can be seen. The trail reaches its high point at 0.7 miles before it starts descending toward the road at .8 miles.

After crossing Park Blvd, the trail follows the road into the Jumbo rocks campground. Make your way along the road back into the campground until you pass the amphitheater, which sits on the right. Shortly after passing the amphitheater, a sign for the Skull Rock Trail goes off to the left and departs the road. On this side of the trail, there are more placards explaining what is going on in the area, identifying plants and animals that make up the desert ecosystem. The trail is sandy for a majority of the way back to the parking lot, although it does cross some rock faces where the trail is marked by rocks. Mojave yucca cacti, desert pine trees, and small wildflowers can be seen along the trail from here. Skull Rock sits off on the right of the trail just before you get back to the road. Take the opportunity to explore the rocks, take photos of the famous rock formation, and enjoy the area. The trail turns to the left and returns quickly to the road and your vehicle.

If you don't want to complete the 1.8 miles to get to Skull Rock, you can take the trail in reverse and get to the rock formation very quickly as the formation can be seen from the road. This makes it a popular area, so you won't be the only one on the trail, especially in the spring and on the weekends.

Flora & Fauna

A wide variety of wildflowers can be seen blooming in the spring along the trail. Various types of cacti can be seen along the trail as well.

Contacts

Shared By:

David Hitchcock with improvements by Benjamin Peterson

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 26 votes

#1363

Overall
  3.8 from 26 votes
5 Star
23%
4 Star
35%
3 Star
38%
2 Star
4%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#210

in California

#1,363

Overall
21 Views Last Month
3,371 Since Apr 8, 2016
Easy/Intermediate

64%
0%
36%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park.
Apr 2, 2020 near Twentyn…, CA
Joshua Tree and its many rock formations, near Skull Rock.
May 26, 2016 near Twentyn…, CA
Skull Rock peeks up through the surrounding boulders. Photo credit: NPS/Robb Hannawacker.
May 25, 2017 near Twentyn…, CA
Joshua Tree
Mar 21, 2019 near Twentyn…, CA
Face rock
Mar 19, 2018 near Twentyn…, CA
Mar and Skull Rock near Jumbo Rocks
Dec 7, 2017 near Twentyn…, CA

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 47 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

May 29, 2021
Michelle Givon
1.8mi — 1h 30m
May 10, 2021
Ebert Cabrera
Apr 1, 2021
Jodi K
Mar 24, 2021
Bobby Fisher
Mar 17, 2021
Kristy Van
2h 00m
Mar 2, 2021
Tom Herr
Great hike! You could spend all day exploring the area around this hike. Went through Jumbo Rocks campground. 1.8mi
Feb 9, 2021
Mike Nugent
Jan 25, 2021
Nicole Wright
2.2mi