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
- Distance: 4.2
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 33.7376255, -115.8014479
Turn right and climb rock steps to a small ridge. From here, Mastodon Peak is visible to the south.
Location: 33.73443, -115.79987
Mastodon Mine: A former gold mine owned by the George Hulsey family from 1934-1971.
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.
Location: 33.7341548, -115.7991171
From the summit of Mastodon Peak, enjoy panoramic views of Joshua Tree National Park.
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Descend the ridge, following the trail down stone steps. Boulders and Mojave yucca dot the landscape.
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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.
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Pass a trail marker. Look for the occasional white-tailed chipmunk dashing across the path.
Location: 33.7376255, -115.8013165
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Ruins of Winona Mill Mining Buildings
Location: 33.7407125, -115.810833
Location: 33.740369, -115.8054954
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View from Mastodon Peak
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Descent to Lost Palms Oasis Trail
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Approaching Cottonwood Spring
Location: 33.7366151, -115.8100578