One of the easier, yet more beautiful hikes in Joshua Tree National Park is the hike up Ryan Mountain. It is a hike of about 2.9 miles, and gives you an elevation gain of about 1,075 feet. Of course when I say one of the easier hikes, you still need to be in decent shape, and have proper hiking shoes or boots, plenty of water and follow all the normal hiking tips. Don’t try this trail in flip-flops with no water.
If you are planning on visiting Joshua Tree National Park, grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydro Flask head on out to Joshua Tree National Park and get out on the trail. The Ryan Mountain hike is very popular because of the relative ease of the hike, and because it is located near one of the parks major junctions.
To get to the trailhead for the Ryan Mountain hike, take Park Boulevard about two miles east of the intersection with Keys View Road to a turn off for Ryan Mountain on the south side of the road. There is a large parking area here, and there is also a restroom at the beginning of the trail. You can also start this trail from the Sheep Pass Group Campground if you prefer.
While it isn’t a difficult hike, there is quite a bit of elevation gain for so short a hike, so the trail begins its uphill climb right from the start, but to help with the ascent rocks from the area have been built into steps.
The trail is pretty easy to follow, with just one intersection where you go to the right if you started at the main parking lot, and left if you started at the Sheep pass Group Campground. The trail is well maintained, but like any other trail you need to be alert for rocks and other natural features that can trip you up.
The trail gradually climbs up the mountain, giving you close up views of some unusual rock formations, and the trail gives hikers pretty much a 360 degree view of Joshua Tree National Park. You will get some fantastic views of Pinto Basin, Ryan Campground, the ruins of Ryan Ranch, Lost Horse Mountain, and on clear days Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio. At the top of the trail there is a sign marking the 5,457-foot summit of Ryan Mountain, and it is here where you will get the best views of Joshua Tree National Park.
Like normal, we find the summit a great place to sit on a rock and have lunch or a snack, and just enjoy the view. To get back to your car just follow the trail the way you came.
If you are interested in a little side trip when you are done, at the west end of the parking lot there is a marker for a short path to Indian Cave, which seems to be an area that the native inhabitants used a long time ago.
Ryan Mountain Hike