Skull Rock Nature Trail
ElevationAscent: 147' 45 m
Descent: -147' -45 m
High: 4,432' 1,351 m
Low: 4,324' 1,318 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 7% (4°)
Current trail conditions
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“A nature trail that is great for wildflowers in the spring, and provides access to Skull Rock.”— David Hitchcock
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.
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.
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Land Manager: NPS - Joshua Tree National Park