Hiking Motivation! Join the 52 Hike Challenge!

Tims Ladder Featured
play video
Joshua Tree Hikes

Tim's Ladder Trail

  • 6 miles - Moderate Effort
  • Or: 2.5 miles to First Monument
  • 3-4 Hours (Total)
  • 2,100 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 3,100 feet
  • Leashed Dogs Allowed

A local's favorite, the Tim's Ladder Trail offers a rugged adventure into the hills of the northern Coachella Valley. Along the way, you'll encounter a monument built by a local artisan. Then, you'll enter the Joshua Tree National Park backcountry and finish with a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the Little San Bernardino Mountains. And 2000 feet of climbing in under 3 miles means that you'll earn the views.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions
  • Where to Park for Tim's Ladder Trail
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations for the Hike

Where is Tim's Ladder Trail?

There's no official trailhead for the hike, but parking and starting the hike are easy enough. If you can enter latitude and longitude into your driving GPS, use this trailheads address:
33.904815, -116.362112

Otherwise, navigate to Sky Valley Resort, and about 0.2 miles west of the turnoff to the resort on Dillon Road, the hike start will be on the north side of the road. Use this street address:
74711 Dillon Rd, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241

Tims Ladder Parking Map
Parking is on the roadside, before the turnoff to the resort.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 3
There's a wide shoulder where you can park alongside the road.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 5
And there's a gate that marks the start of the hike.

Gear For the Hike

This is a rugged hike in the desert. In the summer and when temperatures are high, doing Tim's Ladder is not an option and can be deadly. When temperatures are safe, I bring about 2L of water and sun protection. Trekking poles are also a must on some of the steep slopes. Lastly, having a GPS with this trail's GPX track loaded will be helpful. The trails are unofficial use trails, and are generally easy to follow, but having access to the GPX track will resolve any confusion.

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 2If you are out of cellphone range the Mini 2 will reliably allow you to hit SOS via satellite. You can also send non-emergency texts to just say that you're late, let friends and family follow along, and check the weather. You can see my review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The wide toe box means no blisters, an aggressive tread is great on the trail, it dries very quickly, and it has lots of cushion for long days. It combines everything I love about every other shoe into one.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProThese watches are pricey, but I use them 24/7 for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate the trails and is a backup to my smartphone navigation. The Epix Pro has a great battery life, a screen similar to an Apple Watch Ultra, and works in harsh conditions when just using the buttons. See my review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26This updated version of the Hikelite 26 offers incredible value for the money. It's got a wide trampoline back, so your back doesn't get sweaty. It's under 2lbs, has deep side pockets, and is a great balance of what you need without what you don't.

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

Tim's Ladder Trail Maps

Click Here To View

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

Elevation Profile

Tims Ladder Elevation
Even though it's not a long hike, it's a steep one. You'll climb about 2000 feet in 2.5 miles.

Landmarks on the Hike

Witness Post1.62460
Joshua Tree22750

3D Map

Tims Ladder 3d Map
We're going to climb straight up and into the foothills. I have an alternative loop that's longer but not as steep on the way back.

Hike Brief

Tims Ladder Tim
Meet Tim, of Tim's Ladder! Tim and his wife Pam started Sky Valley Resort, which is across the street from the trail. They're both avid hikers and are on these trails often. Sky Valley offers vacation rentals and the Farm Fresh market, which sells local eggs and baked goods with an Austrian flair (the owners are Austrian transplants).

Tim's Ladder Hike Directions

Tims Ladder Trail Directions 6
Hop over the gate and start walking straight down the sandy road.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 7
Follow the road straight. There are a ton of other roads and tracks coming in and out of this one, but just go straight back toward the mountain.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 8
Off to your left is San Gorgonio.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 9
And behind you to the left is San Jacinto.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 10
When you get close to the mountain, at about 0.3 miles, bear off to the left on the diagonal road.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 11
If you look up from here, you'll see the monument in the distance.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 12
When you approach the hillside, look for the path climbing up to the right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 13
There's usually stones marking the path to the start as well.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 14
And now you start the climb. The trail is small, but it's there.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 15
At about 0.4 miles in, you gain the ridge. Hike left and follow the trail up along the ridge. You're pretty much going uphill all the way to the monument from here.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 16
Keep looking ahead to find the path of the trail. If it goes downhill, it's not the right trail.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 17
There are a few random marks and cairns along the way.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 18
When you get to the first flat(ish) section, the trail continues up to the left.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 19
You'll see the monument again as you get higher up.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 20
Then you reach a flat area of dark rock. There are two trails to the monument, the shortest is the one on the right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 21
There's some rock art at the flat area.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 22
Just after a mile or so you'll reach the monument.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 23
This is the monument, built by Din Kossova.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 25
There's a few areas of rock art and plaques around the monument.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 24
You've climbed about 1000 feet from the start of the hike.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 26
Continue uphill from behind the monument. We're heading left. On the way back (later in the guide), we'll descend on the trails to the left here.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 27
We're heading straight, up the hill, and then up the sandy ridge to the left.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 28
In some places the trail is very well marked, others it's less well marked but still there.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 29
If you look back as you climb, you'll see Toro Peak, the highest point in the Santa Rosa Mountains.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 30
Keep straight at the flat section, avoiding the viewpoint trail to the right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 31
And you gain a crest, with the next (small pointy) peak in the distance.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 32
As you crest the next rise, there's a flat area near the top. Off to the left are the remains of a witness post.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 33
You can still see this witness post referenced on USGS topographic maps as 2513T, although I think the elevation is not that high.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 34
Crest a ridge just past the witness post.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 35
Head downhill for a short stretch.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 36
And then start climbing. There are some cairns to mark the way.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 37
We'll be going around on the ridge to the right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 38
The end of the climb is sandy and steep.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 39
And then you get to the pointy peak. There's a small wooden marker on the rocks to the right, along with some nice views. Otherwise the trail continues to the right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 40
Hike uphill from the rock pile.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 41
You'll shortly pass the pole, which is the boundary marker for Joshua Tree NP. The Colorado River Aqueduct also runs roughly under this spot. From now on we're in Joshua Tree NP.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 42
The trail is not as popular as the early stretch, but it's still here. Look for cairns and footprints.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 43
Our final destination is at the top of the hill in the distance.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 44
After a short downhill, continue up to the right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 45
At the top of the small ridge, bear right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 46
And then you're at a flat sandy area. The viewpoint is straight ahead.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 47
Climb up on the granite to enjoy the panoramic views.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 48
To the north and east, the many unnamed peaks in the Little San Bernardino Mountain range, and Joshua Tree NP.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 49
To the southwest, San Jacinto.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 50
And to the southeast, the Salton Sea.

From here, head back the way you came. When you approach the monument, pick up the directions below to descend on the loop route.

Tims Ladder Trail Directions 52
When you see the monument off to the left, take the trail to the right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 53
And then at the junction, go right again.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 54
Now we have a long, generally gentle descent down toward the wash. The trail back from here is well marked with cairns.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 55
There's a steep section but it's not too long.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 56
At the bottom of the steep section, make the left.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 57
And continue down the gradual descent.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 58
At the y-junction, bear right.
Tims Ladder Trail Directions 59
And soon you'll be back at the flat section. You can take any of the paths that heads left to rejoin your initial approach path.

Need More Info?

  • Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.
  • When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

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.