Stubbe Springs Loop and Fan Canyon Overlook, Juniper Flats Trailhead on Keys View Road, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Stubbe Springs Loop and Fan Canyon Overlook - 13.1 miles

Juniper Flats Trailhead on Keys View Road

Joshua Tree flats on the Stubbe Springs Loop

Joshua Tree flats on the Stubbe Springs Loop

Round-Trip Length: 13.1 miles
Start-End Elevation: 4,340' - 4,968' (4,968' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +628' net elevation gain (+1,513' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Stubbe Springs Loop and Fan Canyon Overlook - 13.1 Miles Round-Trip

The Stubbe Springs Trail reaches deep into the mid and upper Mojave Desert of Joshua Tree National Park, showcasing a wide range of vegetation, terrain and wildlife. 

The trail is rugged and occasionally difficult to follow, but ideal for solitude and adventure seekers comfortable in the desert backcountry. The following description travels clockwise to capture more favorable lighting throughout the day:

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail heads west on the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) through a sparsely-filled flat, rising gradually across the geographic transition zone between Lost Horse Valley and Juniper Flats.

Wildflowers, grasses and small brush line the trail with foothills and distant mountains on the horizon. The trail rises above the CRHT's Mile Marker 19 to a ridge and drops through another broad expanse.

Just past Mile Marker 20 it reaches the first of two Stubbe Springs Loop connections (1.72 miles : 4,520'). Turn left (south) toward the foothills. At 1.85 miles you'll come to an old 4x4 road and turn right into a mature Joshua Tree forest.

Though flat, the road's deep sand makes for slow travel. The trail leaves the road at 2.98 miles (4,610') and turns left for a rugged, occasionally faint climb into the foothills.

Note changing plant compositions as you climb: Joshua Trees now share space with pinyon, juniper and oak. Mojave yucca, nolina and barrel cacti also thrive on these higher, rocky slopes.

At 3.5 miles the trail makes several quick turns through a wash - follow signposts carefully. It rises sharply (3.55 miles) out of the gully and levels off at 3.75 miles. Here it crosses the upper-wash and undulates along open, diversely vegetated hill tops. These higher elevations signal a transition into the Mojave's pinyon-juniper eco-region.

At 4.62 miles the trail meets a perpendicular wash - Turn left, then exit to the right just ahead (4.69 miles). Newly placed cairns should make these important turns clear.

This faint segment rises quickly to the trail's highest point (4,968') with spectacular views across the Little San Bernadino Mountains, Mt San Jacinto and Mt San Gorgonio.

The trail drops quickly from its apex to another major wash and turns right (5.11 miles : 4,812') to the Fan Canyon Overlook spur (5.15 miles : 4,795').

The .3 mile spur climbs a ridge (4,860') with views across Fan Canyon and the Coachella Valley. Return to the main trail and continue northwest down the wash.

The wash drops into a shallow canyon - stay centered to remain on course. A signpost will steer you left out of the canyon (6.7 miles : 4,573') - do not miss this turn. The trail rises and undulates once more through open desert ringed by high ridges and stark mountains.

At 7.1 miles begin looking down and left for a verdant gully - this is Stubbe Spring. Social trails lead to it, but it's difficult to reach. Enjoy the spring from afar and do not disturb wildlife or vegetation.

From the Stubbe Spring overlook you'll drop into a 3-way wash intersection (7.35 miles : 4,447') - continue straight into the wash in front of you.

Remain alert, as this next mile is faint with several quick, unmarked wash entry and exit points. This is arguably the trail's most topographically intense and varied section.

At 7.8 miles the trail climbs steeply back into the foothills, leveling off in a Joshua Tree forest on a high plateau (8.4 miles : 4,718'). The trail comes to a signpost at 8.65 miles, turns right and makes a quick left at another.

Travel now eases on a shifting course through Joshua Tree flats and monzogranite boulders.The Stubbe Springs Trail comes to its second junction with the CRHT (9.45 miles : 4,728) and bears right toward Keys View Road.

A moderate climb yields breathtaking views across Juniper Flats, bearing perspective on the true size and scale of this landscape. The trail soon crests (10.25 miles) and glides gently back to the trailhead (13.1 miles).

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N33 58.608 W116 09.905 — Trailhead on Keys View Road
  • N33 58.215 W116 11.425 — CRHT - Stubbe Springs Loop junction - turn left
  • N33 58.122 W116 11.445 — Turn right on 4x4 road
  • N33 58.232 W116 12.583 — Turn left off 4x4x road
  • N33 57.160 W116 12.951 — Make left in wash (4.6 miles)
  • N33 57.114 W116 12.926 — Bear right out of wash (4.65 miles)
  • N33 57.015 W116 13.188 — Turn right in wash near Fan Canyon Spur
  • N33 57.045 W116 13.194 — Fan Canyon Spur (5.15 miles)
  • N33 57.553 W116 13.730 — Travel in wash beyond Fan Canyon Overlook
  • N33 57.753 W116 14.210 — Stubbe Spring Overlook
  • N33 57.717 W116 14.240 — Stubbe Spring
  • N33 57.848 W116 14.227 — 3-way wash split: head straight
  • N33 58.735 W116 13.728 — Turn left at sign post atop high plateau
  • N33 58.703 W116 13.135 — CRHT junction #2 - turn right
  • N33 58.608 W116 09.905 — Trailhead on Keys View Road

Worth Noting

  • Stubbe Spring is critical to the area's wildlife and local vegetation. Honor Day Use Restrictions and do not disturb the spring.

  • The life-enabling spring attracts wildlife. Look for signs of coyote, bighorn sheep, mule deer and bobcat.

  • Quail Mountain (5,814') - the Park's highest point - can be seen to the northwest of the CRHT.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Much of this trail passes through a restricted Day Use Area - camping is not permitted within. Consult a Park Ranger for Zone Camping information and permits.

Rules and Regulations

  • The Stubbe Springs vicinity is a day use area only. Avoid disturbing natural water sources and leave these sensitive natural resources to wildlife. 

Directions to Trailhead

The Juniper Flats Trailhead is located approximately 12 miles south of the West Entrance Station, 1 mile south of Park Boulevard on the west side of Keys View Road. The trailhead is located 16.2 miles from the Highway 62 turnoff for Park Boulevard.

Contact Information

Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597

Visitor Information

Park Headquarters

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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