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Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Mar 7 - Mar 15, 2015 -- $1250 ★★

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California features a desert landscape who's signature plant is the rare and beautiful Joshua Tree. The park boasts unique geological formations such as granite monoliths and rugged canyons, plus a variety of wildlife including bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, and coyotes. March is a great time to escape from your frigid climate and explore the Mojave desert.

Our route will begin near Quail Springs on the Boy Scout Trail. We'll head over to Big Pine, cross the Park Road (where we'll pick up cached water) and get on the Panorama Trail. From there, we'll hike on the California Riding & Hiking Trail to the frontcountry Blackrock Campground. We'll pick up more water, summit 5516' Eureka Peak and hike over to Covington Crest for a view of Palm Springs at night. Finally, we'll head down Smith Water Canyon a true highlight of the trip, eventually ending our hike at Quail Springs Picnic area.

Much of the trail will be rugged, exposed to the sun, and poorly marked, requiring off trail navigation with a map, compass, and GPS. Expect this to be a true adventure!


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. Expect a warm respite from your end-of-winter blues. Historical March weather averages 60s and 70s during the day, which is perfect for backpacking, although we might also experience blazing heat during the day. or frost at night. Expect 30s and 40s at night although on the 2009 trip, it did get down to the low 20s so be prepared.

Trip Leaders

Rick Romine
Dan Shafto


$1250 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Palm Springs, CA (PSP) as well as personal equipment, and any restaurant meals.

Covered expenses include 2 nights in a hotel, 7 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and awesome guides.

Important Note

Water is scarce in this region and we must cache it ahead of time. Be prepared to carry as much as 2 gallons (16 pounds) of water in your pack. Even if we find surface water, the park prohibits us from using it, as it is to be left for the animals and plants.

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Important Note
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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fly or drive into Palm Springs, CA (PSP)

We will pick you up at the airport and drive you to Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, 14500 Palm Drive, Desert Hot Springs, CA, 92240, 760-329-4481

Equipment shakedown

Before body composition measurements taken

Trail mix distribution

Buy common last minute and forgotten items in Palm Springs. Specialized backpacking equipment will be obtained tomorrow.

Go out for dinner in town. Dinner not included in trip cost.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2nd set of before body composition measurements taken

Breakfast at local restaurant (Not included in trip cost)

Store all items you won't bring on the trail at either the hotel or a storage unit

Drive to 29 Palms

Optional: Drop off food cache and firewood at Blackrock Campground

Buy last minute and forgotten items at Joshua Tree Outfitters.

Shuttle to Boy Scout Trail trailhead, elevation 4100'

Hike 4.6 miles on Boy Scout Trail to Big Pine Trail

Hike 1.0 miles on Big Pine Trail to spur trail, elevation 4200'

Hike 0.5 miles on Spur Trail to the end. Camp here. Elevation 4200'

Mileage Today: 6.1. Total mileage: 6.1

Possible bailout: Indian Cove or Park Road

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hike 0.5 miles back to Big Pine Trail, Elevation 4200'

Hike 0.7 miles to Maze Window Loop cutoff, elevation 4250'

Hike 0.2 miles on cutoff to North Side Trail, elevation, 4200'

Hike 4.1 miles to on Maze Window Loop to Park Boulevard, elevation 4000'

Pick up cached water

Hike 0.5 miles to Bigfoot Trail, elevation 4000'

Hike 0.9 miles to Panorama Trail, elevation 4000'

Camp near intersection of Bigfoot and Panorama Trails.

Mileage Today: 6.9. Total mileage: 13.0

Possible bailout: Park Road.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hike 3.0 miles on the Panorama Trail to the Bigfoot Trail, elevation 3650'

Hike 0.3 miles on the Bigfoot Trail to the Quail Springs Trail intersection, elevation 3500'

Hike 2.7 miles on the Bigfoot Trail to Spur Trail, elevation 4500'

Hike 0.5 miles on the Bigfoot Trail to unmarked campsite where water is cached, elevation 4600'

Camp at unmarked campsite, elevation 4600'

Mileage Today: 6.5. Total mileage: 19.5

Possible bailout: Nolina Cove (there are homes at the end of the spur)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hike 1.2 miles to Covington Loop Trail, elevation 4500'

Hike 1.3 miles on Bigfoot Trail/Covington Loop Trail to Trail intersection, elevation 4700'

Hike 0.3 miles on Bigroot Trail to the California Riding & Hiking Trail, elevation 4550'

Hike 3.0 miles on the CR&HT to Blackrock Campground, elevation 3980'

Camp at Blackrock Campground, sites 002 & 003, campfires permitted

Resupply water, 2.5 gallons each

Mileage Today: 5.8. Total mileage: 25.3

Possible bailout: Blackrock Campground

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hike 0.6 miles on Blackrock Canyon Trail to Burnt Hill Trail, elevation 4100'

Hike 2.8 miles on Burnt Hill Trail to Eureka Peak Trail, elevation 4800'

Hike 1.1 miles on Eureka Peak Trail to Eureka Peak, elevation 5518'

Hike 0.8 miles to Upper Covington Flat Road, elevation 5150'

Hike 0.4 miles along Upper Covington Flat Road to CR&HT, elevation 5150'

Hike 1.9 miles along CR&HT to Covington Flat Backcountry Board, elevation 4820'

Hike 2.9 miles to the terminus of the Covington Crest Trail, elevation 5000'

Camp at the terminus of the Covington Crest Trail

Mileage Today: 10.5. Total mileage: 35.8

Possible bailout: Upper Covington Rd.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hike 2.9 miles to Covington Flat Backcountry Board via old road at 33°59'27.82"N 116°17'40.04"W, elevation 4820'

Hike 1.5 miles to Covington Flat Picnic Area, elevation 4600'

Hike 3.0 miles through Smith Water Canyon, elevation 3700'

There is a 20' rocky dropoff in which you may need to lower yourself (or your pack) using a rope..

Possible pools of water in Smith Water Canyon

Hike 0.5 miles to West Entrance Wash, elevation 3700'

Camp near dense grove of Joshua Trees near Quail Wash Junction, alternately hike another 1.9 miles to Johnnie Connector trail and camp there.

Mileage Today: 7.9. Total mileage: 43.7

Possible bailout: Lower Covington Rd.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hike 1.3 miles on Quail Springs Trail to Samuelson's Rock, elevation 3700'

Hike 0.6 miles to Johnnie Connector Trail, elevation 3700'

Hike 2.2 miles up to Ryan Canyon, elevation 4200'

Hike 2.3 miles to Quail Springs Picnic Area, Park Boulevard, elevation 4000'

Mileage Today: 6.4. Total mileage: 50.1 (Option A) or 54.1 (Option B)

Possible bailout: Park Road.

Drive back to Palm Springs

Check into Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, 14500 Palm Drive, Desert Hot Springs, CA, 92240, 760-329-4481

"After" measurements taken

Dinner in town (cost not included in trip cost)

Awards Ceremony

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Check out of Hotel

We will drop you at the airport

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