The Barker Dam loop is a small, short nature trail that winds through an impressive series of boulders at the southern end of the Wonderland of Rocks. This is a very popular area for both hikers, strollers, and rock climbers alike — and for good reason. The path is easy, the elevation gain is negligible, and the scenery is outstanding. Plus — there aren’t many other places where you have the chance to see some beautiful reflections of the Joshua Tree rock formations in still water.
Soon you’ll find yourself walking down a narrow canyon, closed in by high boulder walls on all sides. The effect is striking, but not at all claustrophobic. These aren’t slot canyons, by any means. But if you look up on either side, you may find some of the more adventurous hikers trying their hand at scrambling up the monzonite.
From here, the nature trail opens up into a wide, flat valley, surrounded by the trademark rock formations of Joshua Tree on all sides. The trail makes a wide circle through the valley, passing several interpretive plaques along the way. There are also some well-marked petroglyphs which, unfortunately, were painted over to make them more visible.
If you’re doing this trail on your way out of the park, like I did, enjoy the solitude you’ve probably got in this central valley. It’s a great place to watch the first stars start to appear during sunset.
Very good - there is a nature trail that leads to the dam and loops through some of the old Keys Ranch land. Although some trails are not marked, it is very easy to follow and usually has other people on it. If you skip the short side trail
From inside Joshua Tree National Park, turn off Park Blvd. toward the Hidden Valley campground. Pass this campground and the road to Keys Ranch. There is a circular parking lot at the trailhead. This trailhead can get crowded, especially on weekends. Try to get here early if you want to hike in the area.
With recent wildfire damage and ongoing waves of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, National Forest, National Park, and other public land closures, restrictions, or social distancing guidelines may be in-effect.
If infection rates are on the rise, please do your best to remain local for your hikes. If you do travel, please be mindful of small gateway communities and avoid as much interaction as you can. Also remember to be extra prepared with supplies so you don't have to stop somewhere outside your local community for gas, food, or anything else.
Please be sure to contact the local land management agency BEFORE you head out, as these conditions are likely to change without enough notice for us to fully stay on top of them. Thanks, and stay safe!
Click here to read the current CDC guidelines for traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.