|This is an interesting and fun loop
hike. It takes about seven hours or so to complete, including time
to explore the various mining installations, mine artifacts and other
points of interest. It is recommended that you consult
the maps on this Web page and purchase a good topographic map of the
area for the hike.
The trailhead is at Split Rock, near the center of J. Tree
park. The first section of trail takes off NE from the parking
turnaround behind the split rock and is a visible trail-of-use.
There are no formal trail markers but enough traffic has made the trip
to Eagle Crest Mine, our first stop, that it would be hard to get lost.
The Eagle Crest Mine complex is very interesting, especially the
dwelling used by these early miners. You'll have to look sharp,
though. The first mine shaft is easy to spot but you will miss the
dwelling if you aren't careful.
The second leg of the loop proceeds off-trail into the canyon north
of the Eagle Crest dwelling. You'll pass three other mine shafts
on the way down. Eventually, you'll "T" into a wash
running east-west. Go west until you see tailings streaming down
the canyon wall to the left. You are now below the largest mine
complex in the Park - The Desert Queen Mine. Climb the wall for a
close look into these installations. Even though the entrances
have been closed off with metal grating, it is still interesting to look
into them. Our team inspected more that half a dozen major mine
entrances. There are probably even more to be found.
From the Desert Queen Mine complex, continue in the same wash below
the Desert Queen Mines southwest. Keep the faith, it is possible to make it
through the boulder field that threatens to block progress.
Eventually, the canyon choked with rocks peters out and becomes sandy desert
floor. Contour along the base of the hillside to your left and
you'll eventually come to the Elton Mine complex. There are
perhaps four major shafts in an area of about 100yds. Again they
have been closed off by the Park Service but are worth exploring from
The final leg proceeds southeast to the trailhead at Split
Rock. It is easy to get disoriented in the desert and miss the
exit route. There are no trails from Eagle Crest Mine
onward. A good map and compass... or better yet... a GPS - just
like the pioneers had - will keep
you on the right route.