Indian Cove Nature Trail is an off-the-beaten-path walk in Joshua Tree National Park. Not very many people make this .75 mile walk because it is not in the main part of the park. In fact, you have to leave park boundaries and enter from the north to access the trailhead. Though this may not be worth it if you have limited time at Joshua Tree, the trail does provide a different view of the area.
The only thing that you’ll really find in the Indian Cove area is a campground and the nature trail. It’s a short drive from 29 Palms on the north side of the park, but the road is unpaved. Though it gets a bit rough, any vehicle would make it. Vehicles longer than 25 feet are restricted due to the narrowness of the road.
As you drive into the Indian Cove area, there is a junction. Turn right and follow the road past all the campsites until it comes to a turnaround. This is where the Indian Cove Nature Trail begins. There is a low fence and a path at the trailhead, so don’t get confused and walk on the ghost trails that lead out the front of the parking lot. Instead, walk back to the beginning where the map signpost sits.
The Indian Cove Nature Trail is well-marked at first. Then the trail drops slightly downhill toward the wash. The rocky ridges in front of you separate Indian Cove from the main part of Joshua Tree National Park. It’s a little quieter in this section, and we saw only a few people. There are information signs about the native people who lived here, as well as the local plants and animals.
Eventually, the trail ends up right in the wash, which can be a bit confusing. The trail continues up the dry creek bed, so turn right when you arrive at the wash and follow it. Soon you’ll start to see a few more signs that tell a little about the area. We never really felt lost, but we did have some hesitation as we got to this point.
One interesting thing that we found on this hike was a coyote melon. These are small gourds that look like a watermelon, but are only the size of your fist. Watch for these, as well as wildlife as the trail loops back to the parking lot. We enjoyed the unique rock features in Indian Cove. The trail is only 0.6 mile roundtrip, so it’s super easy. If you are staying in 29 Palms, or have a little extra time, add Indian Cove Nature Trail to your itinerary. For other Joshua Tree hike ideas, visit out Family-Friendly Joshua Tree Hikes post.