Skull Rock Trail

We decided the night before that we would leave Joshua Tree NP on the day we took this hike. It was a relatively short 1.65 mile loop, and it started just a few yards from where our rig was parked in the campground. To give you some perspective, I'll show you a map of the hike from the sign at the trailhead, and I've marked the location of our rig with a red dot.

After we'd hiked about 3/4 of the way around the loop, we looked across the road where we could see our trailer in the campground.

For perspective, this next image was standing at the same spot, but not zoomed in.

So what's this hike all about anyway? The trail meanders through boulders, desert washes, and a rocky alleyway. There are signs all along the trail that identify plants, explain the geology of the Mojave Desert, discuss plant and animal relationships, and describe plant uses by early Native Americans. Eventually the trail leads to Skull Rock, an unusual monzogranite boulder that resembles a gigantic human skull. Okay, so here we go.

As I said in a previous post, the Joshua Trees are only one reason to come to the park. We think the giant rock formations are at least as interesting as the trees. Erosion has created some interesting rock "gardens" and shapes. One sign I read described them as resembling scoops of ice cream.

It was a nice interpretive trail with lots of signs describing what we were seeing. This one was especially interesting to me because of all the uses for this desert plant.

There were no flowering plants that fit the description, but I thought this next image might be the same plant. Just add flowers to those red stalks.

Just prior to reaching Skull Rock, we walked through a somewhat deeper wash and found lots of different kinds of trees and shrubs that were better able to grow where there was more moisture. Here's the Mojave Desert Oak.

It's leaves resemble a holly leaf.

Here's skull rock. Those depressions are caused by rushing water, and this being in that same wash, it makes sense.

I'm always amazed at the courage of plants that grow from solid rock against all odds.

We thought this might be the lair of some critter, but we didn't see any evidence of that.

And on we walked, marveling at the rocks.

The landscapes are vast, and it's impossible to really get a feel for how big things are without attempting a pano. Remember that you can make these images larger by clicking on them.

There's Mike heading on up the dusty trail.

And here's another pano.

This next image is another good example of the dikes I mentioned in my previous post. You can see a small ridge on the rock in the foreground. Look more toward the back in the shadow of the background rock, and you can see some larger dikes.

This is a Desert Pine tree loaded with pine cones. The birds, rats, chipmunks, and other animals forage for the seeds.

We marveled at some of these balancing rocks.

And here's an immense rock garden so typical of the area.

And that was our hike. We've done this one before, but we never get tired of the landscape in this area. The second time out was every bit as enjoyable as the first. But before we leave the hike, here are two windblown travelers. Why should our shadow selves get all the selfie fun?

We've been relaxing and warming up in the beautiful weather here in Hemet. the kitties are doing well, and tolerating one another better all the time. Mike's sister, Meredith, will be joining us here later today for a visit, and then we'll be moving onto Death Valley tomorrow.

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

Carla said...

Very cool. Thanks for taking us along on the trail.

WoolenSails said...

I would love to camp in a place that has walks like that and I do love rocks, lol.
I love the ocean cliffs and the cliffs in the mountains and rocks along the beach, stone walls and anything rock;)


liniecat said...

Truly stunning rock formations
Can see why you'd want to go and experience the area.
I wonder if that kind of terrain ever influenced the sculptures of say Henry Moore?
Smoother lines and mounded forms - fascinating.
Tell you what I wanted to ask you - when that cats are left in the rig, does it as hot as cars do?
Or do you have air con, I'm guessing you must do with the wonderful temps you get over there.
Chuffed to see that Maggie hasn't been phased by becoming an inter state traveller!
Enjoy :)

Lyndsey said...

That scenery is amazing. Thanks for sharing your photos.

quiltzyx said...

I am fascinated by the rock dikes. They are just so cool. It's great that the weather, after such a nasty start, is being good for you. Looks like warm, clear skies the rest of the week - with maybe a few clouds.
Glad the cats are getting along better now. Hooray for Smitty & Maggie!

Kate said...

What a great walk! Thanks for sharing. Hope you enjoyed your visit with Mike's sister.

Dana Gaffney said...

Skull rock is pretty cool, nature is such a interesting sculptor.

LethargicLass said...

I really am finding these dikes the most fascinating things!

Brown Family said...

Nature is full of surprises and interesting plants and formations.