Hike Statitistics

  • Split Rock trailhead
  • Mines - Eagle Crest, Desert Queen, and Elton 
  • 4.2 mile loop hike
  • 7 hr moderate difficulty day hike
  • 4300ft @ trailhead, 4100ft @ lowest pt., 4650ft @ highest pt. (Eagle Crest Mine)
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 outside.

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.