Tim’s Ladder Trail
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||6 miles (9.7 km)|
|Other Options||2.5 miles to First Monument|
|Hike Time||3-4 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||2,100 feet (640m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,100 feet (945m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy|
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.
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:
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
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.
Garmin inReach Mini
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.
Latest Prices: Amazon | REI
My Review & Guide
How is this Different than a GPS?
Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2022.
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 keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Tim’s Ladder Trail Maps
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Landmarks on the Hike
- The land you are hiking on is owned by the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy, a state agency created in 1991 to protect the natural and cultural resources of the Coachella Valley. It would be great if the Friends of the Desert Mountains would mark this trail at some point, it’s a great area.
- The monument you pass on the hike was created by Din Kossova, who lives at Sky Valley, to commemorate the founding of the modern Albanian state in 1920, largely through the efforts of Woodrow Wilson. Originally he built another monument, unknowingly just inside the (then unmarked) boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. When the park found it, they (pretty harshly) fined Kossova and blew up the monument. The video about it on the Desert Sun site is worth watching if you’re interested.
- You’ll cross into Joshua Tree National Park, but you don’t need any special entrance fees or permits to day hike here.
- When you cross into the park, you’ll also cross over the Colorado River Aqueduct, one of the modern engineering marvels. You won’t see it on the hike, as its underground, but there is an access point about a mile away that you can visit.
Tim’s Ladder Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
From here, head back the way you came. When you approach the monument, pick up the directions below to descend on the loop route.
This guide last updated on January 11, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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