(nr Twentynine Palms CA)
The only real hike I took while at Joshua Tree National Park, was the 1.2 mile loop trail to see Barker Dam. It was built around 1900 by cowboys to supply water for their cattle, and for mining.
The dam itself was simply constructed, with a trough below for a holding tank. The small stream ran off into the desert. Water collects behind the dam from rainfall, snow melt, and run-off. Except for the springtime, it is mostly pretty dry.
During my visit there was lots of water which formed a pond of considerable size. These days it is used by wildlife and birds as a watering hole. It was a rather picturesque setting below some large rock formations.
The trail wandered through the desert passing Joshua trees and other plants. Some pretty large rock formations provided an interesting landscape. It was an easy path, with only a small section of rock steps before the dam, and passing around it to the flat area below it.
Easily missed would be some native petroglyphs in an alcove found just off the trail near the end. Unfortunately, someone painted over the lines of the drawings in an attempt to make them more visible. However, the drawings remained recognizable and an interesting sidestep.
From there, it was a short walk back to the parking lot. The trail was scenic, an easy walk, and worth the effort during the spring or providing it had recently rained.
Camp: Cottonwood Springs Rd boondock
Scene: Dam, pond, rocks