Quail Springs Trail starts at Quail Springs Trailhead on Park Boulevard. It follows an old abandoned dirt road/dry wash 3 miles west over a desert plain into a mountainous area. It then goes into a valley between the mountains, turns northwest and continues to follow the dry wash. Trails Illustrated Map of Joshua tree National Park shows a network of trails crisscrossing the mountains and the valleys of the area. These trails are poorly established/non-existent and do not appear on the official map of the park. They did however appear on my GPS map. Using my GPS, I was able to follow the faint Panorama Trail going 900 vertical feet up the mountains and then down to Big Foot Trail and Samuelsons Rock. In the 1920s, a Swedish immigrant homesteaded here for a few years. His inscriptions can be found carved into a rock face known as Samuelsons Rock. Returning to Quail Springs Trail, I made a 14.9 mile long loop hike.
The black line shows the path that I should have taken. I got off track for some time on Panorama Trail.
From the park’s West Entrance drive 5.5 miles on Park Boulevard to Quail Springs Parking Area.
This is a 14.9 mile lollipop loop hike. Lowest elevation is 3370 ft and highest elevation is 4270 ft. As mentioned above some of the trails are poorly defined or even non-existent in part. See map for detailed distances.
From the west end of the Quail Springs parking area get on the quail Springs Trail and head west. The trail follows an abandoned dirt road on the surface of a desert plain. A dry wash parallels the road for some time and may be confused with the trail.
After 2.3 miles you will see a valley between the mountains to the south. Johnny Lang Connector Trail goes south into this valley. Continue straight on the trail/dry wash toward the mountains to the west.
The trail/wash goes into a valley between the mountains and turns northwest.
Continuing down the dry wash, you will see a two headed hill identified on USGS Map as “Mary”.
Beyond this area, trails became difficult to identify. I just followed the lines on my GPS showing the trails. On the north side of “Mary”, I turned east onto a connecting dry wash where Panorama Trail was and followed the wash up into the mountains.
Looking up the valley where Panorama Trail goes
Farther up, a canyon formed. The trail followed the bottom of the canyon.
A Cairn marked the spot where I had to leave the bottom of the canyon. A faint trail could then be followed to the crest of the mountains.
From the high point, looking west
The faint trail then took me down the east side of the mountains to reach Big Foot Trail which was nothing more than a dry wash.
I followed the wash south toward Samuelsons Rock.
Trails Illustrated Maps and my GPS showed a trail going east from Samuelsons Rock. I did not actually see such a trail but followed my GPS on the desert floor to reach a home site.
Old home site
From there, I turned south onto a trail that took me back to Quail Springs Trail.
When to Hike
Summer can be dangerously hot. Spring, fall and winter are good times.