CRHT: Twin Tanks to Geology Tour Road, California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT), Joshua Tree National Park, California
CRHT: Twin Tanks to Geology Tour Road - 9.0 miles
California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT)
|Round-Trip Length:||9.0 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||3,912' - 4,475' (4,482' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+563' net elevation gain (+673' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
CRHT: Twin Tanks to Geology Tour Road - 9.0 Miles Round-Trip
Joshua Tree National Park's California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) stretches 37 miles from the Park's North Entrance Station in 29 Palms to the Black Rock Campground in Yucca Valley.
This multi-faceted trail spans Colorado Desert transition zones in the east, archetypal Joshua Tree flats in the middle and upper-Mojave and pinyon-juniper eco-regions in the west. 6 Park roads touch the CRHT with numerous access points for day hike options.
One such access point is the Twin Tanks Parking Area on Pinto Basin Road.
This section of the CRHT passes through expansive Mojave desert scrub flats of Queen Valley. There's virtually no shade and hikers should expect intense heat, sun exposure and slow travel through deep sand.
Park visitors tend to favor the Joshua Tree forests and cooler mountains of the CRHT's west side, but true desert lovers will appreciate this section's stark beauty, open space and solitude:
The following description travels west on the CRHT from the Twin Tanks Parking Area to Geology Tour Road. The parking area is located just north of the CRHT on Pinto Basin Road. A connector trail heads south from Twin Tanks Trailhead and parallels Pinto Basin Road for .12 miles to the official trail at a well-marked point.
Bear right (SW) at this junction to pick up the trail, which rises steadily into a stark expanse. A North-South ridge appears on the near horizon, but the vast area and thin desert air obscure its true distance approximately 4.2 miles away.
Ubiquitous creosote is accompanied only by the occasional Joshua Tree or an even more rare juniper. Look for Coyote Melons along the way, a softball size gourd that grows from stringy vines on the ground. Despite an edible appearance, they're quite bitter and may cause intestinal distress if eaten. Indigenous people consumed its dried, ground seeds, while the hollowed out gourd was used as a ceremonial rattle.
These otherwise spartan surroundings are offset by incredible views of the rugged and seldom visited Hexie Mountains to the south and southeast.
The trail bends decisively northwest at 2.1 miles (4,100'), inching closer to landmarks such as Queen Mountain (5,677') and the rock piles of Crown Prince Lookout.
The latter was one of two military lookout points established during WWII within the Park. Ryan Mountain (5,461') and Lost Horse Mountain (5,313') soon come into view. Behind them are the formidable Little San Bernadino Mountains. A keen eye and clear skies reveal glimpses of the oft-snowcapped summits of Mount San Gorgonio and Mount San Jacinto.
You'll crest the aforementioned N-S ridgeline at about 4.2 miles (4,482'), then enjoy a gentle glide down to the trail's junction with Geology Tour Road (4.5 miles : 4,475'). The CRHT continues west for an appreciably more eventful 6+ miles to Keys View Road.
- N33 59.365 W116 01.379 — Twin Tanks Trailhead and CRHT Backcountry Board
- N33 59.118 W116 04.924 — 4.5 miles : Geology Tour Road and CRHT Backcountry Board
- This trail is highly exposed to sun, heat and wind. Bring sunglasses, a broad rim hat, lotion and layers. Be mindful of snakes, especially near boulder piles and tortoise burrows.
- Despite nominal grades, deep sand will likely slow your pace. Plan travel time accordingly.
- Consider other hiking trail options when storms are threatening, as there are few safe and quickly accessible outlets on this section of the CRHT.
- Coyote Melons are abundant along the trail, especially on the east side. Look for these softball sized gourds growing from long vines on the ground.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- There are no designated or maintained backcountry campsites on this section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
- Wilderness camping is permitted 500' from the trail and one mile from Park roads.
- Camping is not permitted in day-use only areas. These are clearly labeled on topo maps and all backcountry registration boards.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs, bikes, guns and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
- Horses are permitted, but must stay on trails and may not graze on Park lands or drink from Park water sources.
Directions to Trailhead
The Twin Tanks Trailhead and CRHT Backcountry Board is located on Pinto Basin Road in Joshua Tree National Park. The trailhead is located 10.8 miles from Highway 62 in Twenty Nine Palms, CA.
From Highway 62, turn south on Park Boulevard and travel 8.6 miles to Pinto Basin Road. Bear left on Pinto Basin Road toward Cottonwood Springs and Interstate 10. The trailhead is located 2.2 miles on the right (west) side of the road. Walk the short spur or road south .12 miles to pick up the CRHT from the main parking area.
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597