This was the last trail we did on our trip to Joshua Tree and it was by far my favorite. The 2 mile trail (4 mile out and back) to the Lost Horse Mine is popular. We saw a lot of hikers on the trail heading up there, all a wide range of skill level. The less traveled trail is the Lost Horse Loop Trail which continues on from the Mine and then loops back around to where the trail begins. We felt ambitious and ended up doing the full loop and for us, it was challenging but completely worth it.
Sometimes it feels like every corner of Joshua Tree Park is an entirely different desert. While the park does span across the Mojave and the Sonora desert, we stayed in the Mojave part. But when you look at all the trails we did (49 Palms, Wall Street Mill & Barker Dam), the terrain is varied and that is part of what makes hiking in Joshua Tree so fun and exciting. It gives you a clear understanding of how much life is in the desert and how the term 'desert' doesn't just mean endless sand dunes like they show in the movies.
I actually did not take many pictures on the first part of this trail or of the Mine itself. It is a decent climb up to the Mine with some expansive views of the park for a good part of the trail. When we got to the mine it offered great views of the trail and the valley and ended up being a great place to stop and have lunch. We snacked on peanut butter sandwiches while ground squirrels became very daring and tried to find ways into our packs. They wanted our sandwiches and they tried to look really adorable to con us into giving them some (we stayed strong and did not give in.)
We saw the marker for the loop before we headed up to the Mine so we had to back track just a little to get to the trail head. Within the first ten minutes on this trail we hit the first major view and it was incredible. There was no way to get a good picture with our phones or the point and shoot. It overlooks a part of the park that has no roads in it, just trails. It is gorgeous and unlike any other part of the park or any of the other trails we did.
It was breathtaking and incredible. One of those moments in the National Parks that is difficult too put into words. We continued on with the loop and it definitely had some rough patches. The trail did not appear to be as well maintained as the main trails in the park so we did run into some loose parts here and there. There were a few points where we regretted leaving our hiking poles in the truck but we were overall okay without them. It was gorgeous though, we stayed on the ridge of some hills for a good part of this trail with great views of the valley (shown both above and below.)
Once we got around the hills we ran into another abandoned mine. This one has been dynamited shut but we could easily see where it once was. Right by the mine we found this fireplace as well, there was some abandoned furniture here as well that must date back to the 1950's at the latest.
At around this point the trail turns into an old dirt road that was used to get to the mines. It didn't have any more grand views but it did give us this sense of being very far out and alone in the desert even though we were just a few miles from the truck. It was the longest we went without seeing anyone the entire time we were in the park. And again, it was one of those moments in the National Parks that are difficult to put into words. The grandeur of the wilderness under us sank in on this trail.
This is an incredible trail. It was the most challenging trail we did in the park and it is not for everyone because of the challenges it presents. I loved the views it offered, how far into the park we were able to get, and how it offered a different part of the park for us to see. Of all the trails we did, this one stuck with me the most.
Disclaimer: I am not a fitness or outdoors expert and do not claim to be one. Everything stated above is my opinion, not advice. Always consult your doctor before starting a new fitness routine and always consult experts before heading out on a new adventure.