Joshua Tree National Park offers some of the best hiking trails in all of Southern California. Mastodon Peak is on the eastern side of Joshua Tree National Park and is a fun short hike the family can do together. The Mastodon Peak Hike highlights the beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and rewards you with spectacular views of Southern California. Ashley and I highly recommend this scenic fun short hike. For more pictures make sure to check out our Facebook Page.
Directions to Trailhead: To get to the Mastodon Peak Hike in Joshua Tree National Park, take interstate 10 toward the eastern entrance of Joshua Tree. From interstate 10, take exit 168 and head north on Cottonwood Spring Road. After approximately 7 miles, turn right just before the Cottonwood Visitor Center and ranger station where you pay your day fee. Continue approximately 1 mile to the Cottonwood Springs trailhead at the road’s end. Parking at this location can get crowded as this is a very popular hiking spot. Entrance fees for Joshua Tree National Park are $15 per vehicle or $5 for bicycles, motorcycles, walk-ins, and bus passengers. The park fee provides a 7 day permit for access to the park. For more information about Joshua Tree National Park fees, including annual fees, click Here. Additionally for a map of where Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California, click Here.
Description of Trail: The hike to Mastodon Peak departs from Cottonwood Spring on the eastern side of Joshua Tree National Park. When you begin at the trailhead you will notice the Cottonwood Springs Oasis, right at the trailhead. From this location the trail heads east. The dirt trail ascends gradually to the east past yucca and ocotillo plants and in 0.7 miles from the trailhead, you turn left following the sign toward Mastodon Peak. The trail gains elevation, just under 200 feet over the next quarter mile before coming to the base of Mastodon Peak. There is a sign at this point indicating the way to the summit of Mastodon Peak. The climb is around the back side of Mastodon Peak. There is no formal trail, but you can tell there is a path to the top which requires minor scrambling to the top of the 3,400-foot summit. From the top of Mastodon Peak you have spectacular views! Descend from the top of Mastodon peak and continue on the loop, passing the remains of Mastodon Mine. The trail loops towards Cottonwood Spring, crossing and traveling through a series of sandy desert washes. The trail is well marked and is very easy to follow back to the parking location. For a printable map of the Mastodon Peak Hike, click Here. The best seasons to do this hike are Fall, Winter, and Spring.
Further Thoughts: Ashley and I enjoyed our hike to Mastodon Peak in Joshua Tree National Park. This was a fun short hike that we did in connection with our hike to the Lost Palms Oasis as these two hikes can easily be combined. Make sure to be on the look out for desert wildlife while hiking here. The ruins of Mastodon Mine are also visible along this hike. The mine was originally started in 1934. The mine consists of an inclined shaft depth of 45 feet and the mine was owned by the Hulsey family until 1971 when the property was acquired by the National Park Service. There is no access to the mine shaft but lots of interesting pieces of it left.
Joshua Tree National Park encompass 794,000 acres of space where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge. It ranges in elevation from 900 feet to over 5,000 feet above sea level. The eastern half of the park, below 3,000 feet above sea level, lies within the Colorado Desert. The hike to Lost Palms Oasis is within the Colorado Desert portion of the park. This habitat of the lower Colorado River valley is part of the much larger Sonoran Desert, which spans the southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico. The western half of Joshua Tree National park at elevations above 3,000 feet, is Mojave Desert habitat. Amid the boulder stacks are pinyon pines, junipers, scrub oaks, Mojave yuccas, and Mojave prickly pear cacti. What tells you that you are truly in the Mojave desert is the Joshua Tree.
The best seasons to do this hike are fall, winter, and spring when the weather is cooler. It would not be recommended to do this hike during the summer due to the heat. Normal high temperatures for June, July, and August in Joshua Tree National Park (taken at an elevation of 1,950) are all over 100 degrees. Additionally, water in Joshua Tree is scare as the park receives on average only about 4 inches of rain each year with the wettest months being July and August due to summer monsoonal thunderstorms. Bottom-line is bring plenty of water with you for your hike and make sure to have sunscreen as there is little shade along the majority of this hike.
Rating: Elevation Gain: 440 ft. (Easy - Moderate), Distance: 2.6 Miles Roundtrip (Easy).