This short desert hike visits a gold mine that operated profitably for decades on land now protected by Joshua Tree National Park. An overlook across from the mine is reachable via an easy 0.7-mile round trip trail, and the excursion can be extended to 1.6 miles by crossing a canyon to the mine itself.
Begin hiking on the nearly level Desert Queen Mine Trail (just to the right of the bathrooms at the trailhead for Desert Queen Mine and Pine City). Not far from the start, the trail passes an old stone foundation with a bed frame still inside. These ruins are a few hundred feet from the trail, easy to spot, and worth exploring.
After a third of a mile, the trail comes to an overlook on the edge of a small canyon opposite the site of Dawn Queen Mine. The mine was operational from 1895 until 1961, and the remains are well preserved.
Across the canyon, a trail can be seen crossing through the old mine ruins. To connect to this trail, descend past the information panel and turn right on a worn path heading down into the canyon. After dropping 125 feet, turn right and hike up the canyon bottom toward the other trail. Turn left and follow this single-track up the other side of the canyon past old mining machinery and numerous fenced over shafts (over 20 in all).
The trail climbs to the top of the mine at the canyon rim. Stand over the mine shafts and enjoy the desert views. The trail continues beyond the mine down Desert Queen Wash, past smaller mining operations, toward John’s Camp and Park Boulevard.
On the return, you can hike back across the canyon to the overlook trail or take the trail that goes through the mine, which joins the overlook trail halfway between the trailhead and the stone foundation. Desert Queen Mine shares its trailhead with Pine City Trail, so there is more hiking nearby for those looking to trek farther.
To get to the trailhead: From Park Boulevard 5 miles west of the intersection with Pinto Basin Road, turn north on Desert Queen Mine Road (opposite Geology Tour Road). Drive a mile over dirt road passing the trailhead for Lucky Boy Vista and continue to the trailhead for Desert Queen Mine, located just past a hairpin turn in the road. The parking area can also be reached from the other end of the dirt road, which starts to the west near Barker Dam.
Trailhead address: Desert Queen Mine Road, Joshua Tree National Park, CA 92277
Trailhead coordinates: 34.0236, -116.0776 (34° 01′ 25″N 116° 04′ 39.4″W)
|Lucky Boy Vista |
This level 2.5-mile hike visits a modest overlook at the site of an old mine.
|Crown Prince Lookout |
This easy 3.25-mile round trip hike crosses a desert plateau to a pair of overlook near the site of an World War II era observation post.
|Contact Mine |
This 3.9-mile hike ascends 700 feet up a wash, a canyon, and an old road to a mountainside mine site that offers a glimpse into the mining history of Joshua Tree.
|Arch Rock |
This short hike leads to a natural arch in the granite formations by White Tank Campground.
|Wall Street Mill |
This level 1.55 to 2.15-mile hike visits a well-reserved gold mill, exploring the mining history of Joshua Tree National Park.
|Barker Dam |
This level 1.5-mile loop visits a small foreign-looking reservoir within the Wonderland of Rocks.
|Hidden Valley |
This one mile loop circles the interior of a small valley surrounded by tall rocks that serves as an excellent bouldering arena.
|Ryan Mountain |
This 3-mile hike offers summit views from the center of Joshua Tree National Park.
|Ryan Ranch |
This 0.8 or 1.2-mile round trip hike visits the ruins of an old adobe homestead beneath Ryan Mountain.
|Lost Horse Mine |
This 4-mile hike visits a well-preserved mine and mill.
|Inspiration Peak |
This 1.2-mile hike leaves the crowds at Keys View for even grander views at a 5,550-foot summit that looks out on the Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea, Mount San Jacinto, and much of Joshua Tree National Park.
|Warren Peak |
This 5.5-mile hike summits a peak with impressive views over the west side of Joshua Tree.
|High View Nature Trail |
This 1 1/3-mile loop climbs a ridge on the west side of the park that offers views of San Gorgonio Mountain and Yucca Valley, along with an introduction to desert plants.
|Fortynine Palms Oasis |
The 3-mile round trip hike visits a cool desert oasis.
|Indian Cove |
The 101-site campground is home to a 0.6-mile interpretive trail and endless bouldering and rock climbing opportunities.
|Mastodon Peak |
This 2.6-mile loop visits a 3,400-foot summit with panoramic views of southeastern Joshua Tree.
|Lost Palms Oasis |
This 7.2-mile hike visits a desert oasis nestled between mountains in the southeast corner of the park.
|Cholla Cactus Garden |
This quarter-mile loop allows visitors to stroll through an intense concentration of cholla cacti.
|Hikes in the California Desert |
Explore more trails in Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Mojave National Preserve.
|Joshua Tree Campgrounds |
Nine campgrounds with 500 total sites are spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.
|Joshua Tree Wildflowers |
The desert in bloom is something any outdoor enthusiast in California should see.