Eureka Peak, Black Rock Campground - CRHT Backcountry Board, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Eureka Peak - 10.1 miles

Black Rock Campground - CRHT Backcountry Board

View across the Coachella Valley from Eureka Peak

View across the Coachella Valley from Eureka Peak

Round-Trip Length: 10.1 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,983' - 5,518' (5,518' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,535' net elevation gain (+1,838' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Eureka Peak - 10.1 Miles Round-Trip

The northwest corner of Joshua Tree National Park is crossed by a warren of steep mountains, deep canyons and sandy washes. Eureka Peak (5,518') - Joshua Tree's 5th tallest - stands above all others in this area with panoramas of the Little San Bernadino Mountains and Coachella Valley.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

A network of trails - some clearly labeled on maps and others not - emanate from Black Rock Campground with connections to the Eureka Peak Trail

The route described here follows the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) to the Short Loop Trail, which joins the Eureka Peak Trail 1.95 miles from the trailhead:

The trail leaves Black Rock Campground from the CRHT Backcountry Board, merges with a wash (.1 mile) and exits left on the CRHT for a steady climb into the foothills. 

It crests at .85 miles (4,185') and undulates down a bajada to another wash and the Short Loop Trail (1.65 miles : 4,105'). Make a hard right on the Short Loop Trail, which enters a narrow canyon filled with diverse Mojave brush.

The wash forks - the first of several times - at the Eureka Peak Trail split and bears left (1.95 miles : 4,180'). Travel now slows through deep sand in a variously wide and narrow canyon.

You'll pass the Cliff Trail (2.8 miles : 4,417') and Canyon View Trail (3.0 miles : 4,490') in quick succession, where canyon walls gradually fall to open slopes and pinyon-juniper woodlands.

This ecosystem was more prevalent throughout the park 10,000 years ago, but warmer climates since have relegated it to higher, isolated pockets. Look for signs of deer, coyote, bobcat and mountain lion in this high desert habitat.

A few steps past the Canyon View Trail is a curious sign pointing you both straight and left in the wash- keep straight, as your current course is the most direct. The wash forks once more at a sign potentially obscured by overgrowth (3.5 miles : 4,670'); anticipate this split and follow it right.

The wash narrows and splits again with cairns guiding you left (4.05 miles : 4,858'). Here the grade steepens and canyon tightens on a twisting climb to a high, thin saddle (4.65 miles : 5,310').

Take in views of Mt San Gorgonio before dropping across a steep slope to the Bigfoot Trail junction (4.7 miles : 5,265'), and rising back up to a southwest-facing saddle beneath Eureka Peak.

The trail moves easily along the saddle with rangy views across the Coachella Valley to a fork and unlabeled metal post (4.95 miles : 5,445').

A sharp left turn runs up to the summit (its location now obvious); continuing straight leads to Upper Covington Flat Road and rejoins the CRHT 1.2 miles ahead. A short, steep push on this spur leads to Eureka Peak (5.05 miles : 5,518'), a small landing with epic panoramas and useful perspective on the route you took to reach it.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N34 04.508 W116 23.270 — California Riding and Hiking Trail Trailhead
  • N34 04.181 W116 22.505 — 1.0 mile mark
  • N34 04.015 W116 21.897 — 1.65 miles : CRHT - Short Loop Trail junction
  • N34 03.840 W116 22.032 — 1.95 miles : Short Loop Trail - Eureka Peak Trail junct
  • N34 03.193 W116 21.833 — 2.8 miles : Eureka Peak Trail - Cliff Trail junction
  • N34 03.092 W116 21.749 — 3.0 miles : Eureka Peak Trail - Canyon View Trail juncti
  • N34 02.695 W116 21.538 — 3.5 miles : Fork in wash at sign - bear right
  • N34 02.568 W116 21.506 — 3.7 miles : Eureka Peak Trail - Burnt Hill Trail junctio
  • N34 02.306 W116 21.510 — 4.05 miles : Fork in wash at cairn - bear left
  • N34 02.042 W116 21.149 — 4.65 miles : Crest on saddle
  • N34 02.023 W116 21.096 — 4.7 miles : Eureka Peak Trail - Bigfoot Trail junction
  • N34 01.888 W116 20.978 — 4.95: Trail split at unlabeled metal post
  • N34 01.950 W116 21.016 — 5.05 miles : Eureka Peak

Worth Noting

  • This trail is highly exposed to sun, wind and variable conditions at higher elevations. Bring sunglasses, a hat, lotion and layers. The trail's southeast heading will place the sun directly in morning travelers' eyes.

  • Eureka Peak can also be reached by remaining on the CRHT to the Eureka Peak Trail connection 5.3 miles from the trailhead. Eureka Peak is located approximately 1.3 miles from this connection for a 12.6 mile roundtrip. A good map is necessary for distinguishing trails on the final .3 miles of this route.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Beyond the Black Rock Campground, there are no designated or maintained backcountry campsites on this section of the CRHT or Eureka Peak Trail.

  • Wilderness camping is permitted 500' from the trail and one mile from Park roads.

  • Camping is not permitted in day-use only areas. These are clearly labeled on topo maps and all backcountry registration boards.

Directions to Trailhead

Eureka Peak is accessed from the California Riding and Hiking Trail Trailhead, located on the north side of the Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. The trailhead is located 5.0 miles from the Highway 62 turnoff in Yucca Valley, CA.

From Highway 62 in Yucca Valley, turn south on Joshua Lane and travel 4.5 miles to its dead-end at San Marino Drive (do not veer off on Joshua Drive 1 mile from the Highway 62 turnoff). Turn right, then left on San Marino Drive and follow it into the Black Rock Campground.

The California Riding and Hiking Trail Trailhead is located .5 miles up on San Marino Drive on the left hand side of the road. Parking is very limited, and it's advisable to drive another .2 miles past it to the Ranger Station parking lot and walk back down to the trailhead.

Contact Information

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

Visitor Information

Park Headquarters

Trip Reports

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