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Skull Rock Nature Trail



1.8 mile 2.8 kilometer loop
97% Runnable


Ascent: 147' 45 m
Descent: -147' -45 m
High: 4,432' 1,351 m
Low: 4,324' 1,318 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 7% (4°)


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A nature trail that is great for wildflowers in the spring, and provides access to Skull Rock.

David Hitchcock

Features Wildflowers


A popular trail with lots of opportunities to climb and explore the area.

Runner Notes

The trail is crowded and a gravel wash for a majority of the trail, so not great for running.


The trailhead is located on Park Boulevard near the Jumbo Rocks Campground on the 29 Palms side of the park. There is parking on both sides of the road, which can fill up in the spring and on the weekends. It's a popular trail due to Skull Rock and the large boulder fields that provide opportunities for climbing and exploring.

The trail departs the road and passes through large boulder field on either side of the trail before it turns to the left and starts to follow a gravel and sand wash. The road is never far from the trail, so the sounds of the cars is ever present. In the spring, wildflowers bloom along both sides of the trail. The trail moves between some boulders, where a giant rock sits in the middle of the trail that you need to squeeze around .2 miles. It exits the boulders and then the trail goes off to the left and starts to climb along a ridge where lots of wildflowers can be seen. The trail reaches its high point at 0.7 miles before it starts descending toward the road at .8 miles.

After crossing Park Blvd, the trail follows the road into the Jumbo rocks campground. Make your way along the road back into the campground until you pass the amphitheater, which sits on the right. Shortly after passing the amphitheater, a sign for the Skull Rock Trail goes off to the left and departs the road. On this side of the trail, there are more placards explaining what is going on in the area, identifying plants and animals that make up the desert ecosystem. The trail is sandy for a majority of the way back to the parking lot, although it does cross some rock faces where the trail is marked by rocks. Mojave yucca cacti, desert pine trees, and small wildflowers can be seen along the trail from here. Skull Rock sits off on the right of the trail just before you get back to the road. Take the opportunity to explore the rocks, take photos of the famous rock formation, and enjoy the area. The trail turns to the left and returns quickly to the road and your vehicle.

If you don't want to complete the 1.8 miles to get to Skull Rock, you can take the trail in reverse and get to the rock formation very quickly as the formation can be seen from the road. This makes it a popular area, so you won't be the only one on the trail, especially in the spring and on the weekends.

Flora & Fauna

A wide variety of wildflowers can be seen blooming in the spring along the trail. Various types of cacti can be seen along the trail as well.

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Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 24 votes


  3.8 from 24 votes
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in California


40 Views Last Month
2,663 Since Apr 8, 2016



Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park.
Apr 2, 2020 near Twentyn…, CA
Skull Rock peeks up through the surrounding boulders. Photo credit: NPS/Robb Hannawacker.
May 25, 2017 near Twentyn…, CA
Joshua Tree
Mar 21, 2019 near Twentyn…, CA
Great views from the trail.
May 7, 2016 near Twentyn…, CA
Giant rocks sit off to the side of the trail.
May 7, 2016 near Twentyn…, CA
The trail as it makes its way back to the road.
May 7, 2016 near Twentyn…, CA