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Joshua Tree Hikes

Hike Lost Palms Oasis Trail

  • 7.4 miles - Moderate Effort
  • 3-4 Hours (Total)
  • 700 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 3,460 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

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.

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

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.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.

Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2Hit SOS or just tell loved ones that you're running late where your cell phone has no service.  Review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The best hiking footwear I've ever owned. No blisters. Get them wet, they dry quickly. Lots of cushion and comfort.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProHiking maps, route info, and fitness stats on my wrist. Review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26Lightweight, carries all your gear, and your back doesn't get sweaty. Oh yea, it's also one of the most inexpensive packs you can get.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated July 2024)

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 Here To View

Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

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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The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot. Make sure you read the trail board for any notices.
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This sign at the trailhead says 4.4 miles, which is not entirely correct. It's more like 3.7 or so.
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Head down the ramp to start he hike through Cottonwood Spring.
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Stay on the trail as it makes its way through the lush vegetation.
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As you leave the oasis there's a trail sign. Overall the trail is well marked.
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The trail becomes sandy and is gradually uphill.
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Keep heading uphill on the steps.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Soon you reach the 2nd mile marker. From here to Lost Palms Oasis the trail is a little rougher.
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After a small descent you'll hike in the wash through a mini slot canyon.
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At the end of the canyon look for the trail sign off to the left.
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You can see the trail wind down in front of you as it crosses a small wash.
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You'll pass over yet another wash.
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And then you climb for a bit. The trail is more rocky than sandy from here on out.
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The views from this section of the hike are expansive. On a clear day you'll be able to see Mt San Jacinto.
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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.
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A minute or two past that last junction you'll see Lost Palms Oasis in front of you.
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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.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.