Trail Reviews: Lost Horse Mine Loop - Joshua Tree National Park
Distance: 6.7 miles
Located in Joshua Tree National Park, the Lost Horse Mine Loop offers more than just scenic views of the sweeping Mojave desert landscape. This trail is full of history and the U.S. National Park Service does a wonderful job explaining just that on this webpage. I would highly recommend arriving early as the parking lot is small and fills quickly by 9:45am. Once the lot is full, park service workers close the access road and only allow cars one by one as a space opens up.
Many recommend doing this trail clockwise starting at the trailhead directly from the parking lot as it is easier as the elevation gain occurs in the beginning of the trek and ends with a flat stroll through a sea of Joshua trees. The trail begins with a gradual incline through the sandy hills. At around 1.3 miles you have the choice to continue on the Lost Horse Mine trail or veer off to the right and up to the viewpoint. I highly recommend taking the diversion to the viewpoint to not only see the mine itself (what the entire trail is named after!), but also the panoramic views from a higher elevation.
Many hikers choose to reach the mine or viewpoint and then turn back around, but they’re missing out on the best part. From the viewpoint, the trail climbs in elevation and offers stunning desert views that make the climb worth the effort. As you round the bottom point of the loop and begin the last 3 mile stretch of the loop the trail levels out and the rest of the trek is a piece of cake. The views change drastically as you go from looking down upon the desert to walking beneath the Joshua trees themselves.
As with any desert hike, I consider the winter months to be some of the most favorable in terms of weather conditions. The weather was exceptional throughout the entirety of my hike, cool breezes consistently blew throughout the entire hike with brief pauses to allow the warmth to hit oh so good. Despite visiting in the beginning of March, the sun was still working its magic more than ever. Be sure to cover yourself with protective clothing and sunscreen to avoid feeling the burn the next day. In addition to covering up, be sure to bring plenty of water to stay happy and hydrated.
During the last stretch of the hike through the sea of Joshua trees, be sure to take notice of the desert fauna thriving and springing to life as springtime approaches nearer and nearer. Little flowers and shrubs blossom all around for those who take notice and, of course, don’t forget to appreciate the Joshua trees themselves.