Joshua Tree Backpacking Adventure: Desert Magic On The Boy Scout Trail

I do. Now, I understand why people say Joshua Tree is pure magic.

I think Shoestring Warrior Cherry’s words sum up everyone’s first experience with the beauty of the southern California desert – the waning light, the golden hours (that are more like cotton candy sky hours), the crisp mornings, the scattering wildlife, the infinite sea of unique Joshua Trees.

Rewind 36 days and Cherry was just one of 8 giddy adventurers meeting at Indian Cove, one of the trailheads for Joshua Tree’s renowned Boy Scout Trail. Clear skies, shining sun, and excitement to hit the trails were just a few feelings buzzing through the desert air.


With warriors coming from all over, from Southern California to Miami, Florida, Trip Leader Graham was sure to acquaint everyone with both the area and our plan for the days ahead. First up, caching our water. Because Joshua Tree is a desert, water sources are limited if existent at all, so we had to ensure water for the days to come. Shortly after, Graham took us through the basics of packing our bags so we could get moving.

After 4 miles of hiking from Indian Cove trailhead, we found a perfect place to set up camp for the evening and whip up some black bean tacos before enjoying the colorful sunset and turning in for the evening. With temperatures dropping quickly as the sun went down each night, you could say our sleeping bags and early nights were our best friends.


On day 2, we rose with the sun for some delicious omelets and enjoyed a relaxing meal together. Cyndee even brought along face paint so we could each have a little St. Patrick’s Day cheer. After packing up our bags (everyone was going to get good at this by the end of the trip!), we went on our way out towards our water cache.

After hiking and dropping our bags, we took a little detour to Willow Hole, a hidden oasis a few miles off of our trail. Joshua Tree National Park is one of those special places that will take you out of this world. With it’s dreamlike landscapes, massive rock formations, and seemingly hidden gems around every corner, the entire group enjoyed stopping every mile to take in the scenery.

After visiting Willow Hole and refilling our water at the cache, we decided heading back up into the hills for the evening was in our best interest to escape the desert winds. And we were sure glad we did. With some chilly spring evenings, any protection we could get was appreciated, and the elevated view of the warm sunset colors was tough to beat.


Our last day seemed to pass far too quickly, as we packed up camp, jetted downhill back to Indian Cove trailhead, and celebrated out miles of success with a hearty meal at Crossroads Cafe. After 3 days of trekking amongst the Joshua Trees with our packs, this meal was much needed before this unforgettable crew of Shoestring Warriors went on our own ways, only to dream of returning to this wonderful park soon!

Photos © 2018 Clare Healy



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