This is a really easy and well marked trail, which makes it really suitable for people of all ages and abilities. It is not wheelchair accessible, though. Located in the Wonderland of Rocks, Barker Trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts who visit Joshua Tree National Park. This trail is short and easy which makes it a great option to add to your itinerary. Again, this trail is really popular so i’m not going to bored you with the same detail and information of the trail that you can definitely find on other hiking websites, but I’ll include some personal experiences in here to give a sense of the place.
Where: Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park
Distance: 1.5 miles loop trail
Direction: From the West Entrance Visitor center, just keep on going straight on Park Road for about 15 minutes drive, and you will eventually see a really big sign that says “Barker Dam” and you will make a left and drive for another half a mile to a large well maintained parking lot with restrooms.
Trail Head GPS Coordinates: 34.024805,-116.141864
Highlights: After snowfall starting in February to late Spring, this dam is filled with water and some seasonal wildlife. During summer and fall when the lake is dry, you can walk down into the basin and walk on the dam.
Point of Interest: The Barker Dam and a Native American pictograph wall painting
Visited: Late November
Level: I thought that it was super duper easy, which is great for the amount of workout I wanted for the day.
Nearby Trails: Check out other Hiking Trails at Joshua Tree National Park
This is a great trail to start off your day with because it is centrally located in the middle of the national park and only a short drive from the west entrance. Also, Wall Street Mill, another popular trail, also starts from the same parking lot. After a long drive from your home, you probably don’t want to spend anymore time driving around the park. The Wonderland of Rocks is a great place to start because you can just park, get off, and do two trails!
During popular seasons, such as late spring, early fall, and late fall, you may want to come here a little earlier around 9-11am, because the parking lot may not be big enough for all the people who want to hike that day. My friends and I started around 10am, and there were only 5 other cars in the parking lot. We got done with the trail around 11am, and the parking lot was completely packed with a couple of cars lining up waiting for people to leave.
There’s a huge sign at the trail head that you may want to stop and read and learn more about the history of Barker Dam and other necessary information.
As you can see from the pictures, the trail is highly highly maintained. It is really easy to follow. This is great if you’re just beginning to come out to National Park because i think it’ll be hard for you to get lost on this trail. There are signs and marks everywhere. This is a nature trail, which means that there will be educational posts along the way where you can learn more about the plants and wildlife in the area.
We got to the dam in no time, and because it was dry, we were able to just walk into the basin and explore around. There are a lot of great rocks around the lake where you can climb to the top, sit, and eat some snacks. My friends and I climbed to the top of a rock on the side and just stared into the vastness of the dam.
The rock formation in this area is really interesting. After a while, i thought that they should rename this place to Ice Cube National Park. I thought that all the rocks stacking on top of one another looks like a stack of ice cubes.
My friends and I had a conversation about how we’d never seen anyone slip on a banana. You know how cartoons and even some children films like to show people slipping on bananas, but we never ever see that in real life! How come? Anyways, and as a joke, we decided to put one of the eaten banana on the ground and shape it as if it was in a cartoon, and took a picture of it. It was a silly thing we did, but my friend loves banana so a lot of the conversations we had on this trail centered around bananas. If you also like bananas, I recommend that you should visit the International Banana Museum located near the Salton Sea just south of Palm Springs.
I suggest that you go walk on the dam. It is small, and if you fall, you will most likely die. But life is a risk, and if you’re up for the challenge and not afraid of the height, why not try?
As you begin to head back, the trail will take you to an open field of hundreds of Joshua Tree. This may be a great spot for you to take some photos with Joshua trees, the iconic plant. Fun fact: the Mojave Desert actually has the most amount of Joshua Tree in the world. It made me wonder then why Joshua Tree National Park has more attention and is named Joshua Tree?
Only after 10-15 minutes walk, you will see a small sign for the parking area and petroglyphs? Walk straight for only 10 steps and you will see a wonderful fall with many Native paintings on it.
This is a great photo spot! You can climb up the wall and observe the painting, take pictures, and admire the art. You can even act like your meditating and be a hipster. We went in November and we felt that it was really windy right here because of how the rocks shape.
We left and continue back to the parking area.
Overall, it was a really wonderful hike. I highly recommend this place for anyone who wants to take a short, easy, and beautiful walk. One advantage that comes with a short hike is that you now have the energy to do many more short hikes! If you still have more energy, I recommend that you do another short 2 miles round trip hike to the Watt Street Mill, which takes off right from the same parking lot as Barker Dam.
If you’ve been on this hike before, share your experiences with me!