Joshua Tree National Park: Mastodon Peak

In 2.6 miles, you'll explore abandoned mine sites, learn about desert fauna, and scramble up Mastodon Peak for wide-open views of Joshua Tree National Park.
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In 2.6 miles, you'll explore abandoned mine sites, learn about desert fauna, and scramble up Mastodon Peak for wide-open views of Joshua Tree National Park.

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.

Hike to 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

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.2

Waypoints

MAP001

Location: 33.7377393, -115.8111629

The loop starts and ends at the Cottonwood Spring parking area. Heading northwest toward the Visitor Center, the hike starts with an easy walk on a nature trail. The first part of the nature trail runs parallel to the road.

MAP002

Location: 33.7394969, -115.8124235

Stay right and follow the sandy path to the north (path is bordered by a line of rocks). Pass signs identifying desert flora.

MAP003

Location: 33.7409534, -115.8110771

Climb rock stairs to the south and leave the nature trail. At the top of the rise, look left to see the concrete foundations of the Winona Mill site. Here, workers processed materials that were removed from the Mastodon Mine.

MAP004

Location: 33.7413013, -115.8072013

Take a sharp right. The trail passes cholla cacti and Mojave yucca as it winds through a massive boulder field, a great spot for light bouldering.

MAP005

Location: 33.7376255, -115.8014479

Turn right and climb rock steps to a small ridge. From here, Mastodon Peak is visible to the south.

MAP006

Location: 33.73443, -115.79987

Mastodon Mine: A former gold mine owned by the George Hulsey family from 1934-1971.

MAP007

Location: 33.7337734, -115.7994524

Turn left at 3-way junction to climb to the top of Mastodon Peak. The route features some tricky sections and may not be ideal for kids or those scared of heights. If you're not up for the scramble, continue straight on the loop to the intersection with the Lost Palms Oasis Trail.

MAP008

Location: 33.7341548, -115.7991171

From the summit of Mastodon Peak, enjoy panoramic views of Joshua Tree National Park.

MAP009

Location: 33.7323971, -115.8000237

Descend the ridge, following the trail down stone steps. Boulders and Mojave yucca dot the landscape.

MAP010

Location: 33.7316387, -115.8014318

Turn right at Y-junction with Lost Palms Oasis Trail to complete the loop. Ahead: The scrub-lined trail stays fairly level, passing ocotillo plants and rocks piles.

MAP011

Location: 33.7352567, -115.8076358

Pass a trail marker. Look for the occasional white-tailed chipmunk dashing across the path.

Mastodon Peak

Location: 33.7376255, -115.8013165

Nature Trail

Location: 33.7389995, -115.8120668

Ruins of Winona Mill Mining Buildings

Location: 33.7407125, -115.810833

Boulders

Location: 33.740369, -115.8054954

Mastodon Mine

Location: 33.7344225, -115.7997501

Spur Trail

Location: 33.7337756, -115.7994148

View from Mastodon Peak

Location: 33.7341503, -115.7990769

Descent to Lost Palms Oasis Trail

Location: 33.732406, -115.799911

Approaching Cottonwood Spring

Location: 33.7366151, -115.8100578