This short, 2.6-mile loop in the southern reaches of Joshua Tree National Park skirts an abandoned gold mine en route to expansive views from the top of Mastodon Peak. From the trailhead at Cottonwood Spring, head west on an easy, well-marked nature trail flanked by cat’s claw, Mormon tea, and Mojave yucca.
In less than half a mile, turn right off the nature trail and climb up a low ridge. At the top, look for the concrete foundations of mill buildings that once housed mining equipment. The route passes cholla cacti and Mojave yucca as it follows a sandy, boulder-lined path through a massive boulder field. After 1.3 miles, pass the Mastodon Mine, a former gold mine owned by the George Hulsey family from 1934-1971.
Shortly after the mine, turn left for an adventurous scramble up Mastodon Peak, a towering cluster of boulders and rock slabs. From the top of the peak, views of Joshua Tree National Park stretch out into the distance—look for the sparkling to the south. The route finishes with a descent to Lost Palm Oasis Trail. Turn right for the 0.8-mile stretch back to Cottonwood Spring.
Info: Joshua Tree National Park
-Mapped by Amy Balfour