Boy Scout Trail (Joshua Tree) Hike
|In This Guide|
|Distance||16 miles (25.8 km)|
|Other Options||9.6 Miles to Viewpoint and Back|
|Hike Time||6-8 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,850 feet (564m)|
|Highest Elevation||4,240 feet (1292m)|
|Fees & Permits||Park Entry Fee|
|Park Website (?)||Joshua Tree National Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
As one of the longer recommended day hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, the Boy Scout Trail is a popular hike. Starting at the Keys West Trailhead, you’ll hike across an open desert full of Joshua Trees, then transition into a rocky descent through the Wonderland of Rocks that offers panoramic viewpoints. And then, 1,000 feet lower, the trail makes its way through washes and canyons to Indian Cove. The hike is unusual in that you get a taste of the upper Mojave desert with it’s Joshua Trees, and then lower Mojave desert, with cactus and yucca. Do the out-and-back hike for 16 miles, or just hike to the viewpoint for a respectable 9.5-miler.
Where Is the Boy Scout Trail in Joshua Tree?
The Boy Scout Trail has two ends, and this guide starts at the east terminus of Keys West, just off of Park Blvd, relatively close to the West Entrance of the park. There are signs off the main Park Blvd for Boy Scout Trail parking. Use this trailhead address:
Boy Scout Trail, 64568 Park Blvd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Gear for the Hike
This is a long desert hike that’s entirely exposed, so you need to prepare accordingly. I bring at least 3L of water, wear good hiking boots, and have trekking poles for the climbs. If you need to top up your water, you can walk an extra mile (0.5 there, 0.5 back) to the Indian Cove Entrance Station and refill when you’re at the half-way point. Otherwise, there’s no water on the hike for a refill. Having small snacks will keep your energy up for the distance.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated March 2020.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Boy Scout Trail Maps
Boy Scout Trail (Joshua Tree) Hike Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
This out-and-back hike is similar to the Grand Canyon in that you start with a descent and then hike back up. What this means in practical terms is that you need to save energy for the trip back. And while the climb out is only about 1,300 feet, the first half of it is done in loose sand, which is hard to hike through. Doing the full hike is always a little tougher than you’d think.
|Willow Hole Trail Junction||1.3||4130|
|Big Pine Junction||4||4030|
Boy Scout Trail Hike Directions
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