Desert Queen Mine Hike Eagle Cliff Mine

Desert Queen Mine Hike & Eagle Cliff Mine

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn by Turn Directions to Desert Queen Mine
  • Parking for the Desert Queen Mine Hike
  • Everything You Need to Know to Prepare for the Hike
  • Optional Hike Extension to Eagle Cliff Mine
Distance1.8 miles (2.9 km)
Other Options 4.2 to Eagle Cliff Mine
Hike Time1-1:30 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)180 feet (55m)
Highest Elevation4,460 feet (1359m)
Fees & PermitsPark Entry Fee
Dog FriendlyNo
Park Website (?)Joshua Tree National Park
Park Phone760-367-5500
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The Desert Queen Mine hike is a cool one; you can actually touch and explore the ruins of a mine that dates back to the 1890s and has a rich story involving cattle rustlers and gunfights of the Old West. And of course, you can enjoy all the natural beauty of Joshua Tree at the same time. If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend the optional extended hike to Eagle Cliff Mine, a remote mine and rock cabin perched above a beautiful overlook.

How to Get to the Desert Queen Mine Hike

The trailhead is in a smallish parking lot at the end of Desert Queen Mine Rd, a dirt road off of the main Park Blvd. The trailhead road is dirt but you can do it in a regular low-clearance car. There are also signs on Park Blvd for the Desert Queen Mine turnoff. Use this trailhead address:
Desert Queen Mine Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA, 92277, USA

Desert Queen Mine Hike 2
The parking lot is shared with the Pine City Trail, and can fill up quickly.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 3
There is a primitive toilet at the trailhead.

Gear for the Hike

If you have light hiking gear, that will serve you best at Desert Queen. Hiking boots with cuffs will help keep the debris out of your feet. That said, this is a short hike and you can get away with fitness or casual clothes in a pinch. Bring at least 1L of water and sun protection; you are hiking in the desert.

FYIBig Annual REI Co-Op Sale On Now + Free Shipping on Everything

La Sportiva Spire

The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: WomenMen

Opsrey Stratos Blue

I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) 

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

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.

Desert Queen Mine Trail Maps

I have three trails marked on this map:

Click To View Map

Desert Queen Mine Hike & Eagle Cliff Mine Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy (prices on REI and Amazon) and does a lot of the same things.

Desert Queen Mine Hike 3d Map
The hike to Desert Queen Mine (purple) is straightforward. The (red) hike to Eagle Cliff Mine is a bit more challenging but definitely doable as a moderate hike. And the (yellow) alternate route back from Desert Queen offers some more ruins to see.

Quick Hike History

Desert Queen Mine Clipping 2
Local thug Jim McHaney murdered the original mine owner and covered the murder up by claiming that he found Pegleg Smith’s fabled mine.  In the 1890s there was no local police at the ready, no 911, no NCIS crime units; it was literally the wild west and this type of thing happened. The Desert Queen Mine has an interesting story that will make your visit more fun. This LA Times clipping from the is from July 11, 1895.

Desert Queen Mine Hike Directions

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Video Directions

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Turn by Turn Directions

Desert Queen Mine Hike 4
There are two different hike trailheads from the parking lot. Start the hike to Desert Queen Mine at the trail to the right of the toilets.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 5
The trail is actually an old road to the mine, and is easy to follow.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 6
At the junction, make the right and hike slightly downhill.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 7
The trail, also an old mining road, winds its way down the hill.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 8
Soon you’ll see some old artifacts from the miners. Please leave them be, they are protected as part of the historic site. I know, it just looks like rusty trash…
Desert Queen Mine Hike 9
Soon you’ll see the mine area in the distance. The small rocks you see on the hill are tailings, rocks that came out of the mine while looking for gold.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 10
As you hike here you can see that some of the old mining road is intact. Experts speculate that these roads were paved or had gravel covering. Wagons heavy with gold would have to travel here, so it makes sense.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 11
When you get to the junction at the plateau, hike down the hill to the left.
Desert Queen Mine View
From here you’ll get nice views down into the mine area. The wash in the middle is called Gold Dust Gulch, and you can see tailings and a mine shaft. It’s easy to imagine the area bustling with activity when in its prime.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 12
When you get to the wash, cross over and hike up the hill to the left.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 13
You start hiking uphill.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 14
And soon the trail widens and you see the first mine shaft.

There are several mine shafts at Desert Queen Mine. They are sealed up and (obviously) dangerous to enter. There is also an active bat community in the mine shafts. Just a heads up if you poke your head in by the grate to have a look.

Desert Queen Mine Hike 15
Soon after that you’ll come to some old mining gear built in Chicago years ago and still surviving.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 16
And after that you’ll find another mine shaft. It looks like you can go in, but it’s blocked a few feet in.
Desert Queen Mine Hike 17
When you get to the top of the hill, you can explore on either side of the stone pile. Both have mine shafts.
Mine Shafts At Desert Queen Mine
Explore around the shafts at the top of the mine.

From here you can either continue on to Eagle Cliff Mine (more below) or return the way you came. If you want to return and explore more ruins, follow the yellow path on the map above for the alternate way back.

Ruins By Desert Queen Mine
If you go back on the alternate route, it helps to have a GPS with this GPX track loaded on it. You’ll see some stone ruins belonging to the mine operations.

Extension to Eagle Cliff Mine

If you want to continue on to the remote Eagle Cliff Mine and boulder house, follow the directions below. The trail isn’t as defined as the first part of the hike, so having a GPS with the GPX track loaded is helpful.

Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 1
From the top of the mine shafts, look for a small path heading east / south east.
Eagle Cliff Hike Start
Here’s where to find the extension after you’re up by the big square mine shafts (which you can see here).
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 2
After you leave the mine area you’ll be able to see the trail. It’s not as big as the mining road that you hiked in on, but it’s definitely a trail.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 3
Soon you’ll see the trail leading ahead and up the ridge.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 4
Keep following the trail through some flat sections.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 5
And then you enter a little wash area.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 6
At the end of the wash head up through these boulders.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 7
And then bear left to continue to another little valley.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 8
When you get to the valley, the trail goes up the middle, climbs the rocks, and then goes off to the left on top.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 9
The trail climbs up through the boulders.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 10
At the top, bear left past the mine shaft to continue to Eagle Cliff.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 11
You’ll start descending toward Eagle Cliff Mine.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 12
When you get to the big open area, you’ve reached Eagle Cliff.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 13
You’ll pass a shaded mine shaft on your right.
Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 14
Go to the end and enjoy the views to the east.

There is a very special place here at Eagle Cliff Mine, an old miner’s cabin built into the boulders called the Boulder House. I hesitated to include this hike on the website because I’ve seen items stolen from the cabin over the years, and it’s sad. But if you don’t find the directions here, you’ll find them somewhere else, so I have the directions with a small request. As a HikingGuy reader, I’m guessing you probably know this already, but if you’re new to the site (and/or hiking), please don’t touch, move, or take anything from the cabin. You’ll have to poke around to find the Boulder House, and this is what it looks like.

Eagle Cliff Mine Hike 15
Joshua Tree NP put up a sign asking visitors to respect the artifacts here. Please follow the rules and leave things as you found them.

Once you’re done here, you just hike out the way you hiked in.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.