Skull Rock Nature Trail - Joshua Tree National Park

Trek Date: November 26, 2016

Hiking Conditions: Favorable. Temps in the mid-60s, partly cloudy with a bit of wind.

So, the Skull Rock Nature Trail can be "officially" started in at least three different spots that I know of along the trail.

1. At the junction of Park Blvd. and Jumbo Rocks Road, the trail can be picked up on the north side of the road.

2. At the parking turnouts near Skull Rock, the trail can be picked up on either side of the road.

3. Inside Jumbo Rocks Campground, about halfway in along the road, is a signboard marking a trailhead.

I chose option #3. I left T-Red on Park Blvd. and walked into the campground, as I knew every parking space inside would be taken. This was the most crowded I had ever seen JTree.

The trail is well-marked all along the way and almost impossible to accidentally stray off from. However, there are so many interesting side trips along this trail that it would be easy to spend an entire day exploring different sections along both sides of the path as you hike along.

One of the nicest things about these nature hikes in JTree are the interpretive signposts along the way. They give information about the rock formations, the plants, the animals and the weather, making a hike along them informative as well as fun.

This post will highlight some of the sights along the trail. I started at the signboard inside the campground and ended at the campground entrance, for a total distance traveled of about 2-1/2 miles. Hiking and exploring time was 1-1/2 hours.

Rock formations abound along the trail, almost begging hikers to stray and explore. And sometimes that's just what happens.

The entire trail is family-friendly. A few spots have some steps or slight elevation gain, but overall this is an "easy" hike.

Cholla loves to say hello to anyone getting too close.

This Juniper has been around for a long time. Checkout the size of its trunk and the twisting roots. I'm always amazed at how plants can overcome the struggles to live in the desert.

Some people laugh when I tell them there are pine trees in the desert.

Contrast this healthy juniper with the dead pinyon pine behind it.

People were everywhere, and Skull Rock is always a popular spot for folks to visit. I crossed Park Blvd. at this spot and headed for the second half of the trail.

After crossing the street, I was surprised to find this sign. It was the first I had heard of the "Discovery Trail."

I decided to checkout the Discovery Trail, which starts off along the Face Rock Trail. It later reconnects with the Skull Rock trail, so it's a nice addition to a day hike. And if you have the time, Face Rock isn't too far out of the way to visit.

Skull Rock Trail - Joshua Tree NP 18

I believe this is Balanced Rock #414.

Along the trail, a little elevation is gained and this nice shot of Skull Rock opened up in the distance. There are a lot of rocks up behind the skull that are waiting to be explored.

A nice view east, encompassing the Split Rock area, Live Oak Picnic area, the Pope's Hat, Jumbo Rocks Campground and Skull Rock.

Some late bloomers. Joshua Tree National Park sometimes puts on some great wildflower shows.

Ever wonder how those lines of rock were formed? Sometimes they're small, sometimes huge.

Baby Elephant Rock.

Nearing the end of the trail, as I approached the park's main road, this shot of Hole-in-the-Wall appeared. One of my favorite areas in Jumbo Rocks.

Back to civilization, or at least the parking area. The Skull Rock Nature Trail is one of the best hikes in JTree for a new visitor to the park. Interpretive signs help explain some of the amazing sights, it would be difficult to get lost on (unless strayed off from in certain areas), and the terrain is relatively easy to hike.

There's just something about climbing a rock and standing on top of it that seems to make people happy.

Thanks for coming along on this hike with me, if you like any of the pictures, please feel free to download them and use them however you'd like. Credit back to would be nice, but it's not a requirement. Share the experience! And please let your friends know about