Hike Mastodon Peak Trail
|In This Guide|
|Distance||2.6 miles (4.2 km)|
|Hike Time||1:30-2 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||510 feet (155m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,440 feet (1049m)|
|Fees & Permits||Park Entry Fee|
|Park Website (?)||Joshua Tree National Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
A hike on the Mastodon Peak Trail loop is a fun way to explore the rugged southern part of Joshua Tree National Park without a huge effort. You’ll hike on sandy trails that are more Sonoran than most trails in Joshua Tree, then hike up stairs carved in the stone to the base of Mastodon Peak. It’s an easy scramble to the top of Mastodon Peak where you are treated to panoramic views of the desert and mountains. After that, the hike passes the abandoned Mastodon Mine on a long easy downhill back to the finish.
Where is the Mastodon Peak Trail?
The Mastodon Peak 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
Instead of paying the park entry fee, just get a National Parks Pass.
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 trail is sandy and exposed. Having hiking shoes or boots will help with your footing. On the climb trekking poles come in handy. Bring at least 1L of water and avoid the hike in the hot summer periods.
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: Women – Men
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)
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 February 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.
Mastodon Peak Trail Maps
The trail is well marked and easy to follow. Having a GPS with the track loaded (downloadable below) will help pinpoint your position if you get confused in any spots. My route follows the loop trail in the counterclockwise direction, which I find more enjoyable and easier.
Hike Mastodon Peak Trail Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Mastodon Peak Trail Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
In the spring Cottonwood Spring can become an explosion of wildflowers. Even if you don’t see any wildflowers, the California Fan Palm trees that you see are pretty rare, only growing where there is a permanent water source. Because you are at the lower elevations in the Sonoran Desert here in Joshua Tree National Park, there are no Joshua Trees (they grow at higher elevations).
It’s called Mastodon Peak because early miners thought this monzogranite rock formation looked like a mastodon head.
Mastodon Mine, a gold mine, was in operation intermittently between 1930 and 1971. There are 288 abandoned mines in Joshua Tree National Park, most are gold mines, and most were unsuccessful. People have laid mining claims in this area as late as 1998.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.