Joshua Tree National Park-Day 1, California Riding & Hiking Trail: Juniper Flats to Geology Tour Road, 10 miles out & back RT, 594' +/-, January 13, 2018

We were on part of this trail in November, and I wanted to go back and do more of it. I like this trail because it takes you into the backcountry and away from the more popular attractions in the park. You can really cover a lot of mileage in a short amount of time on this section because it’s mostly flat with only a 594’ gain/loss if you’re doing it as an out and back. Overnight backpackers will do the whole 35 mile trail in about 2 or 3 days. For this section, we parked at Juniper Flats, crossed Keys View Road and starting hiking. We past Ryan Campground and between Ryan and Lost Horse mountains. The trail leads up up from Lost Horse Valley to a pass and down the other side where it becomes more rocky and rugged. We passed the remains of an old prospector camp. There are actually quite a number of these located in the park and not just the ones noted on the map. The trail then took us down the other side of the pass into Queen Valley. We continued across the vast Queen Valley enjoying the immense open space. We’d gotten a late start today, so we gave ourselves a turnaround time since we didn’t have a car shuttle on the other end and would have to hike back the same amount of miles that we hiked in. We were just 1.7 miles short of Geology Tour Road when we had to head back. We still logged in a good 10 mile hike.

 Starting out on the California Riding and Hiking trail.  We parked at Juniper Flats and crossed over Keys View Road.

Starting out on the California Riding and Hiking trail.  We parked at Juniper Flats and crossed over Keys View Road.

 Heading towards the saddle between Ryan and Lost Horse mountains.

Heading towards the saddle between Ryan and Lost Horse mountains.

 Cholla Cactus.

Cholla Cactus.

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 Ryan Mountain.

Ryan Mountain.

 Juniper.

Juniper.

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 Heading towards Queen Valley.

Heading towards Queen Valley.

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 Remains of an old prospector camp.

Remains of an old prospector camp.

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 So vast!

So vast!

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 Crossing a wash.

Crossing a wash.

 Now heading back the way we came.

Now heading back the way we came.

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 Just few places were a little rocky. 

Just few places were a little rocky. 

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 Almost back to Juniper Flats.

Almost back to Juniper Flats.