Though a bit longer than some routes in the park, this loop highlights some of the best terrain in the Needles area. The route begins from the Squaw Flat Trailhead, and would be an excellent route if taken from the campground.
Hiking in the desert is thirsty work, and there won't be much shade or water along the way. Come prepared, and think about bringing some extra water.
This loop provides a great example of classic Needles rock formations and desert landscape. Cairns mark the trail, and you'll want to pay close attention to where they're leading. Especially across the exposed faces of rock that you'll cross, it can otherwise be difficult to make out the route!
Visitors will start out heading counter clockwise, on the Big Spring Canyon Trail
. The way will be mostly smooth going at first, with moderate elevation gain. As the route progresses to the 3-3.5 mile mark, some areas will be quite steep and may make people who fear heights nervous. Luckily these portions are not overly technical.
From the turning point, there are gorgeous views of the Big Spring Canyon and Squaw Canyon, including many unique and visually appealing desert features.
At the intersection with the Squaw Canyon Trail
, take a left turn (north) to begin the return journey. Like the Big Spring Canyon Trail
, the most technical and exposed portions of the hike will occur near the junction. After about mile 4.5, the travel will mellow, and a gentle descent will return visitors to the trailhead.
Lots of desert wildflowers, cactus, succulents and cottonwood trees. You'll see some marsh lands too!