Hidden Valley Hike in Joshua Tree National Park is a short, easy family-friendly hike. The distance is only about a mile, and there is very little elevation change. Due to uneven trail, wheels would not be able to do this route, but most sure-footed hikers should have an easy, fun time.
History of Hidden Valley
Legends say that Hidden Valley was used by cattle rustlers to keep their stolen cattle hidden. Though unproven, this tale is very believable to visitors. Hidden Valley is hemmed in on all sides and looks very much like a large circular valley that would contain cows and horses, but could not be easily found from the outside. Luckily, the hike is well-marked!
Hidden Valley Hike Trailhead parking fills up fast. There is a large area for vehicles, but the spots are often full, We even came early to make sure that we could squeeze in. Sometimes the rangers have the Parking Lot Full signs up. We recommend doing this hike early in the morning, or arriving later in the afternoon to find a parking spot.
The Trail through Hidden Valley
The Hidden Valley hike in Joshua Tree is a lollipop, which means it heads out about a tenth of a mile before the loop begins. The sign points left, and most of the people doing the loop were going clockwise. On your left is a high, round ridge of rock. On the right is the valley, littered with small rocks and covered with Joshua trees. The one thing that makes the rustling story seem unreal is the lack of good feed for cattle in the valley.
The trail circles around and drops down slightly at the far end. There is a short climb back up, but it is not steep, and the trail is plenty wide. We spotted beaver tail cactus in this area, which is purple, and when we visited in winter, relatively spineless.
Hidden Valley is a great place for a little introduction into the park with the rocks and Joshua trees mixed together.
As you might expect, the Hidden Valley Trail in Joshua Tree is quite busy. If you are looking for some solitude in this national park, this wouldn’t be your first choice. Still, it is an easy, pleasant hike, which the family will certainly enjoy. There are restrooms and picnic tables in the Hidden Valley parking area. Use our Family Friendly Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park post for other trail ideas.