Even though I have lived in California most of my life, over the weekend I made the trek out to Joshua Tree National Forrest for the first time. At less then two hours from my house I couldn’t believe that I had never been and made a list of four different things I wanted to try during my time there. These included hiking to arch rock and hiking to Ryan Mountain, the tallest place in the park. Having an unusually cool day I set out into the desert to see if I could fit all of my hikes in before the sun went down.
The first hike I decided to do was the hike to the Arch Rock that is located near the North entrance of the park. This area is not as publicized as many of the other areas in the park and has no real directions or notifications that it is even there until you get to the trail head. I had stumbled upon it while doing research for the hike and was excited that I could see an arch like that without having to leave the state (the arch is about 30 feet across).
The trail head itself is located in White Tank Campground right near campsite number 9. There is 1 or 2 parking spots by the trail head but most are reserved for the campgrounds that are around the trail head and you probably want to park near the entrance of the camp site. This is not a big deal as the trail itself is extremely short at only around .5 to .75 miles round trip (depending on which way you take back).
From the trail head you will head up towards the large collection of rocks on the outskirts of the campground and follow the well worn path until you hit a right bend.
From there you follow along the rocks for another 500 feet until you hit the sign that announces the arch. The arch itself is a lot bigger then it looks in the picture and you can scramble up to the top if you would like. There is a lot of great angles for photography as well. You can see the picture of me with the arch below in order to get a since of the scale.
From there you can either walk back the way you came or scramble your way back over the many different rocks and paths. I would recommend the latter as it is a lot of fun and really gives you the feeling that you are alone in nature. You don’t have to worry about getting lost as you can normally feel the direction you need to be going and can cut across when the rocks allow it. We spent a good 20 minutes just exploring and I could easily of spent most of my day here.
After we made it back we went on to hike Ryan Mountain, expect that review in the next couple weeks. Check out the rest of the pictures below and let me know what you think in the comments.