Hike Lost Palms Oasis Trail

Hike Lost Palms Oasis Trail

In This Guide
  • Lost Palms Oasis Trail Turn-by-Turn Directions & Video
  • How to Get to Lost Palms Oasis Trail
  • Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Hike
Distance7.4 miles (11.9 km)
Hike Time3-4 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)700 feet (213m)
Highest Elevation3,460 feet (1055m)
Fees & PermitsPark Entry Fee
Dog FriendlyNo
Park Website (?)Joshua Tree National Park
Park Phone760-367-5500
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Hiking the Lost Palms Oasis Trail in Joshua Tree National Park is a unique experience. The trail is in the southern part of the park, which has more of a Sonoran Desert feel than the majority of hikes in the northern part of the park. You won’t see any Joshua Trees on the Lost Palms Oasis Trail, but you will see the park’s largest grove of California fan palm trees, tucked into a hidden canyon. There are no big climbs as you make your way over the ridges and washes through the desert. It’s a fun desert hike that’s worth your time.

Where Is The Lost Palms Oasis Trail?

The Lost Palms Oaisis Trail is in the southern part of Joshua Tree National Park and uses the Cottonwood Spring parking area as the trailhead. Parking can get crowded quickly. Arrive at sunrise for the best hike (and parking!) experience.

Use this trailhead address:
Cottonwood Spring, Lost Palms Oasis Trail, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Mastodon Peak Hike Directions 2
When you first turn off the main road to the trailhead, you’ll pass the Joshua Tree NP Cottonwood Visitor Center. If you need to fill up with water or use the bathroom, this is your only option before continuing the short drive to the trailhead.

Instead of paying the park entry fee, just get a National Parks Pass.

Mastodon Peak Trailhead Start
From the Visitor Center it’s a short drive down to the trailhead. You’ll pass a campground and then reach Cottonwood Spring.

There is no backcountry camping in this section of the park because it’s a protected area for bighorn sheep. If you want to camp, you can stay at Cottonwood Campground.

Gear for the Hike

The hike to Lost Palms Oasis takes a few hours through the desert, so prepare accordingly. I wear regular hiking gear, carry 3L of water, and have hiking boots. I also recommend a GPS unit with this hike’s GPX file loaded (available below) in case you get confused or lost. Don’t do this hike in the hot summer months. There is no shade or protection from the sun.

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La Sportiva Spire

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: WomenMen

Osprey Talon

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.

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.

Lost Palm Oasis Trail Maps

The trail to Lost Palm Oasis is marked and maintained by the Parks Service. There are signs along the route, and there are also stones that block off side trails. Make sure you pay attention to the route. When you hike back, you’ll have to do it in reverse, and it’s easy to take an incorrect trail mistakingly. And again, having a GPS will be helpful as you make your way across the desert.

Click To View Map

Hike Lost Palms Oasis Trail 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.

Elevation Profile

Hike Lost Palms Oasis Trail Elevation
The Lost Palms Oasis hike isn’t a mountain climb. The trail is more of an up and down through the ridges and washes of the desert, so look at this profile with that in mind. There is a little uphill on the way back so make sure you have the energy to do the 3.6 miles back to the start.

3d Map

Hike Lost Palms Oasis Trail 3d Map
From this perspective you can see the undulations of the trail a bit better.

Lost Palms Oasis Trail Hike Directions

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Video Directions

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Turn By Turn Directions

Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 2
The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot. Make sure you read the trail board for any notices.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 3
This sign at the trailhead says 4.4 miles, which is not entirely correct. It’s more like 3.7 or so.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 4
Head down the ramp to start he hike through Cottonwood Spring.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 5
Stay on the trail as it makes its way through the lush vegetation.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 6
As you leave the oasis there’s a trail sign. Overall the trail is well marked.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 7
The trail becomes sandy and is gradually uphill.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 8
Keep heading uphill on the steps.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 9
After 0.7 miles you’ll come to the junction for the Mastodon Peak Loop Trail to your left. Continue straight toward Lost Palms Oasis.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 10
Soon after that you’ll pass the 1 mile marker.
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And soon after that you cross a wash, which can be tricky. In this case there’s a sign on the other side confirming the trail location. In general you’ll see rocks blocking side paths and/or signs pointing the way.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 12
Avoid the small use trails close to the rock formation on the right. Rock climbers hike over to it sometimes, leaving footprints in that direction.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 13
Soon you reach the 2nd mile marker. From here to Lost Palms Oasis the trail is a little rougher.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 14
After a small descent you’ll hike in the wash through a mini slot canyon.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 15
At the end of the canyon look for the trail sign off to the left.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 16
You can see the trail wind down in front of you as it crosses a small wash.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 17
You’ll pass over yet another wash.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 18
And then you climb for a bit. The trail is more rocky than sandy from here on out.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 19
The views from this section of the hike are expansive. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Mt San Jacinto.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 20
There’s one last rocky descent into a narrow canyon.
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And soon after that you’ll come out to a junction. Head left and down the canyon to go into the oasis.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 22
A minute or two past that last junction you’ll see Lost Palms Oasis in front of you.
Lost Palm Oasis Trail Directions 23
Enjoy the oasis and explore. The trail continues down the oasis with some scrambles. Be respectful. Many animals, including bighorn sheep, use this important water source daily. If you arrive very early you can sometimes spot bighorn sheep on the slopes above the oasis.

From here, just hike back the way you came.

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