Willow Hole and the Wonderland of Rocks, Boy Scout Trailhead - South, Joshua Tree National Park, California
Willow Hole and the Wonderland of Rocks - 7.1 miles
Boy Scout Trailhead - South
|Round-Trip Length:||7.1 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,028' - 4,050' (4,170' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+22' net elevation gain (+510' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Willow Hole and the Wonderland of Rocks - 7.1 Miles Round-Trip
The Willow Hole Trail leads deep into the Wonderland of Rocks, a labyrinth of washes and sculpted monzogranite rock formations. The main route in follows a brief section of the Boy Scout Trail before heading east on the Willow Hole Trail into this large encasement.
Like Hidden Valley, the Wonderland of Rocks funnels and traps rain, creating a unique micro-habitat that supports a range and abundance of plant and animal life.
Willow Hole is a seasonal water source surrounded by willow trees, and just one of many potential water sources in the Wonderland of Rocks.
These rare desert resrouces are critical to wildlife, especially bighorn sheep. To preserve natural balance, the Willow Hole Trail and Wonderland of Rocks are day use only.
Though the Willow Hole Trail is reasonably marked, sections are vague and the landscape can be indistinguishable. Carry a good map and stay on designated routes. Visitors will enjoy expansive Joshua Tree flats on the Boy Scout Trail and surreal rock gardens in the Wonderland of Rocks:
The trail rises gently up a sandy path through broad Joshua Trees and mixed mojave vegetation. Views to the west are quite good, especially of Mt. San Gorgonio (11,499') in the San Bernadino Wilderness. You'll reach the Willow Hole Trail split (1.25 miles : 4,140') and bear right.
The Willow Hole Trail bends NE through similar terrain before entering the more topographically complex Wonderland of Rocks. Approximately .6 miles from the split you'll come to the first of several vague wash splits and crossings - stay straight.
The trail now travels almost exclusively through washes, requiring vigilance to signs and markings leading in and out of them. Because the landscape can quickly become indistinguishable and unrecognizable - especially on the return - it's recommended you keep track and note as many natural landmarks as possible along the way.
After squeezing through a few tight places, the main wash opens considerably amid towering rock formations that loom larger as you move deeper into the wilderness.
Much of the remaining route is not marked, but this wide section of wash is intuitively followed. There's little additional elevation gain, but deep sand in the last .5 miles will slow your pace.
The trail ends at a chokepoint in the wash where a seasonal waterhole lies under a willow tree. There's no sign indicating the end, but the tree, waterhole, blockage and distance traveled will indicate the turn around point.
You may continue up the wash around either side of the willow tree (and many do), but the route has many obstacles. Only those with advanced scrambling and desert navigation skills should consider further travel.
- N34 02.469 W116 11.149 — Boy Scout Trailhead South
- N34 03.427 W116 10.773 — Willow Hole Trail junction
- Willow Hole is one of many potential water sources in the Wonderland of Rocks. Availability of water draws significant wildlife activity. Bighorn Sheep are known to inhabit the area.
- The are several unofficial cross-country routes beyond Willow Hole that lead deeper into the Wonderland of Rocks. Consult a backcountry ranger for more information.
- On the way to Willow Hole, take note of your surroundings when traveling through washes. Some un-marked segments may appear differently on the return, and it's helpful to be mindful of all wash crossings, entries and exits.
- Day Use Restrictions apply and are strictly enforced in the Wonderland of Rocks. Overnight campers should become familiar with the restrictions before embarking.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- This is a Day Use Area Only. No camping is allowed east of points along the Boy Scout Trail, along the Willow Hole Trail or anywhere in the Wonderland of Rocks. There are no maintained backcountry campsites along the Boy Scout Trail or Willow Hole Trail. Speak with a Ranger for detailed information on backcountry camping zones, permits and regulations.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking and riding trails in Joshua Tree National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
The Boyscout Trailhead (south) is located approximately 6.5 miles south of the West Entrance Station on Park Boulevard.
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597