Stubbe Springs Loop Trip Description
Finding the right backpacking trip in Joshua Tree National Park can be tricky. If you are committed to not carrying day’s worth of water with you and want to avoid large crowds you have limited options. We chose the Stubbe Springs Loop, located in the Upper Mojave Desert region of Joshua Tree. Because it is less popular than most other well established trails in the park it was our first choice. A large portion of the trip is within a day use only area so please use discretion when choosing a campsite.
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1: Parking is available in the Juniper Flats lot, a designated spot for backpackers to leave their vehicles while meandering the vast wilderness for multiple days. It can be found along Key View road outlined on the map above. There is a registration station at the trailhead where you can give your information, license plate number, etc.
After 1.5 miles of relatively mild hiking from the parking lot you will come to a four way intersection. You can either continue straight on the California Riding and Hiking Trail, as we did, or take a left on the Stubbe Springs Loop Trail as suggested by ProTrails to, “capture more favorable lighting throughout the day.” The rest of this itinerary assumes going straight on the California Riding and Hiking Trail. You must choose a camping spot within the next 2.5 miles before entering the day use only zone. We chose a campsite right after turning left onto the Stubbe Springs Loop Trail.
Day 2: The next day you will continue into the day use only zone. In 3 miles you will come upon the option of pursuing the Fan Canyon View overlook. We ditched our packs for the .3 mile hike into what was one of the most impressive desert overlooks I have ever seen.
The remaining 3.3 miles has the most diverse plant life and terrain of the entire trip. Ranging from large areas of burnt trees to more vibrant areas which seem to be along a dried up river bed. At the end of the 3.3 miles you will arrive back on the California Riding and Hiking Trail with the remaining 1.5 miles you hiked in originally.
Note about camping in a National Wilderness
Camping in a National Wildernesses is free and relatively unregulated! (although Joshua Tree National Park has an entrance fee) You must set up your campsite 100 feet from any trails. Leave no trace principles must be followed within any National Wilderness and everywhere else. Learn more about National Wilderness designation here.
Maps: National Geographic’s Trail Map (a personal favorite)
Joshua Tree Tip: Pack lots of water, the closest places to fill up are at some of the park entrances.
Interested in another desert adventure? Check out this trip I did during my trek of the Pacific Crest Trail.