Pine City

Trek Date: July 4th, 2014

The trailhead

Trails in the desert can twist and turn, disappear altogether, or branch off into unknown paths. No two directions are ever the same and often the journey is more memorable than the destination. And sometimes the journey and the destination meld into a fine adventure, in a desert synergy that seems to happen to me very often in J Tree. Such was the case on the 4th of July.


I'd hiked to Pine City back in 2011 and decided it was time to do so again, this time with an aim of taking photos for this post. As there are a few scattered mines in the region, I guess there must have once been a mining camp there as well. But I've yet to discover any traces of Pine City.

The trail follows what was probably an old mining road, and the one-way distance from the trailhead to the ghost of Pine City is about 1.5 miles. It's a very easy trail to hike and passes through some beautiful J Tree desert. Joshua Trees, cholla, creosote bushes, nolina, yucca and junipers abound in the area, especially in and along the wash the trail crosses and sometimes follows. There isn't much shade along the way, but that changes at Pine City.

The pile of boulders that marks Pine City. You can also see some of the large Pinyon Pines it was named after.

I'll put the matter to rest. Pine City was so-named after a Mr. Jeffery Pine, the first settler in the region. NO, I just made that up, don't believe it! The name actually derives from the many Pinyon Pine trees in the bouldery area that marks Pine City.

If you like rock scrambling, seeing many different kinds of plants, wandering through boulder canyons, exploring beautiful spots, picnicing in the shade of a tall Pinyon Pine while the breeze gently blows in the serenity of the wonderland, then the hike to Pine City is for you. The video below was taken at my favorite spot in Pine City, while sitting on a rock beneath the largest tree in the area. 

I definitely recommend this hike to everyone, especially families who want to experience what J Tree is all about, without the crowds of Hidden Valley or Barker Dam (but those are great places, too). Plan on 2-3 hours for the roundtrip, stay on the easy-to-follow trail and be sure to bring plenty of water and something to eat. Explore the rocks and canyons, and if you find any traces of Pine City, please let me know.

Now it's time to sit back and enjoy a slideshow of the hike to Pine City. It lasts about six minutes and includes some of my favorite photos taken during the hike there and back. The individual photos are included after the slideshow, and as with all my post photos, feel free to download them and use them if the mood hits you.