Panorama Loop, Black Rock Campground - Site #30, Joshua Tree National Park, California
Panorama Loop - 6.25 Miles
Black Rock Campground - Site #30
|Round-Trip Length:||6.25 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,085' - 5,154' (max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,069' net elevation gain|
The Panorama Loop ventures into the high Mojave Desert where Joshua Tree forests and open valleys give way to mountainous Pinyon-Juniper woodlands.
These woodlands - which as recently as 10,000 years ago were prevalent throughout the Park - are now considered a 'Relic' landscape. Warmer and drier temperatures have forced their retreat into higher, more isolated elevation pockets, subsequently segmenting and reducing overall populations.
Hikers will enjoy terrific views and varied terrain along the Panorama Loop Trail:
The trail begins from Campsite #30 in the Black Rock Canyon Campground, heading south along an unmarked road-trail towards a large water tank.
In .17 miles the road-trail forks at the water tank: turn left and look immediately to the right for a small trail sign. Make a right at the sign on what is now a typical hiking trail.
The trail moves easily through a Joshua Tree forest framed by nearby mountains and ridges. It crosses a wash (.55 miles) and continues straight to the Warren Peak-Panorama Loop and Burnt Hill Trail junction (.6 miles : 4,117'). Though easy to see, the signs themselves are positioned in a peculiar manner.
Look due south - the wide sandy wash before you is Black Rock Canyon Wash, and the correct path for reaching the Panorama Loop.
The wash-trail has few obstacles but moderately deep sand may compromise your pace. In .86 miles (4,190') a signpost steers you left though a bend in the wash toward PL-WP (Panorama Loop and Warren Peak, respectively). Follow this sign and stay in the wash to remain on course.
You'll come upon Black Rock Spring - identifiable by small puddles and damp spots in the wash - in 1.3 miles. Beyond this it narrows considerably and reaches the first of two marked connections with the Panorama Loop Trail at a well-defined fork in the canyon (1.6 miles : 4,420').
Only those seeking the most direct path to Warren Peak must bear right; otherwise the loop can be traveled in either direction with nominal difference in navigation or physical difficulty.
Morning travelers may prefer a clockwise loop for more advantageous lighting. The following description travels clockwise:
From the split, bear left and continue up a narrow canyon wash. This higher, wetter portion of desert houses transitional vegetation from the Joshua Tree and Pinyon-Juniper forests.
Note of pinyon, juniper, nolina, Joshua Tree, oak, Mojave yucca, jojoba and various cholla in the canyon. Despite rugged surroundings, the wash itself continues with few impediments on a steady grade.
At 2.6 miles the trail edges above the wash and begins a steep climb out of the canyon to a narrow ridge. Views of surrounding mountain ranges improve with each step, especially behind you.
The trail reaches its highest point on a jagged ridge (2.95 miles : 5,154') with views of the Little San Bernadino Mountains, Warren Peak (5,103'), Eureka Peak (5,518') and Mount San Jacinto (10,834').
The Pinyon-Juniper woodlands of these higher elevations bear little resemblance to the Joshua Tree-filled central valleys and creosote-dominated eastern deserts of the Park.
After a brief respite, the trail drops steadily on the loop's southwest side; look for spurs that veer off to good viewpoints (particularly the one bearing left at 3.25 miles : 5,030', just past an official trail marking).
The trail narrows into a shallow side canyon, reaching its second connection with the Black Rock Canyon Wash (4.25 miles : 4,573'). Make a right at this well-marked signpost and retrace your steps down Black Rock Canyon Wash to the trailhead.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N34 04.281 W116 23.457 — Trailhead at Campsite #30
- N34 03.715 W116 23.312 — Connect with main trail
- N34 03.408 W116 23.765 — Black Rock Canyon Spring
- N34 03.225 W116 23.796 — Panorama Loop junction #1
- N34 03.053 W116 23.977 — Panorama Loop junction #2
- Despite modest distance and elevation gains, the majority of trail passes through deep sand. Plan travel time accordingly.
- Take note of mid and upper Mojave Desert ecosystems blending together as you gain elevation. Few trails illustrate these changes better than the Panorama Loop. Wildlife is abundant is this ecologically varied zone. Look for signs of deer, fox, coyote, rabbit and mountain lions.
- This trail is recommended during extremely hot weather, its canyons and higher elevations are cooler than lower, open desert trails.
- Horses are common on this trail system. Follow proper etiquette. Be considerate to those camping in the area and stay clear of occupied sites.
Rules and Regulations
- Cars left in the day-use parking area overnight may be ticketed.
From Highway 62 in Yucca Valley, turn south on and remain on Joshua Lane (do not veer off on Joshua Drive, 1 mile from the Highway 62 turnoff).
Joshua Lane dead-ends in 4.5 miles at San Marino Drive and bends to the right. Follow San Marino Drive .5 miles into the Black Rock Canyon Campground.
Park at the seasonal Ranger Station and walk to Campsite #30 (you may not park at this or any other campsite, as these spaces are reserved for occupants). The trail begins from the south edge of the campsite on a dirt road-trail, heading towards the large water tank. There are few formal trailhead markings - follow the trail description above.
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597