Ryan Mountain

Ultra-popular hike to a summit near the center of Joshua Tree National Park.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
4.6 km
Ascent
318 m
Descent
318 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
1.7 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Ryan Mountain Map

Description

Ryan Mountain is a prominent highpoint near the center of Joshua Tree National Park, and the trail to the summit is one of the park’s most popular hikes. The views are spectacular, and it makes a great workout, with a lot of vertical gain in a rather short distance. The trail is well constructed of stone steps and packed dirt. There’s no difficulty in staying on the path or in any scrambling, only the exertion of constant uphill for 1.5 miles, followed by the same distance in jarring downhill.

From the parking lot, the trail goes uphill right away, among scattered bushes and boulders, and leading between two giant rock mounds. Continuing uphill, the trail then veers to cut a steep diagonal across the mountainside. It later levels out just a bit and turns a corner, where you’ll spot more impressive rock formations ahead.

The trail works its way farther up and around the mountain, then comes to a saddle, which looks at first like it mind be the end, but isn’t. The summit is still farther away and above. Press on as the trail keeps curving uphill. You can simply stop to take in the views if you need to catch your breath, and eventually, you’ll reach the summit. The top of Ryan Mountain is broad and rather flat, giving plenty of room to spread out and appreciate the vistas in all directions.

With no shelter from the sun and wind, the top of Ryan Mountain can be very hot or surprisingly cold, depending on the season. In general, the entire hike is sunny and exposed, so it’s brutal during the summer. Start early in the day to avoid the heat and the crowds. The parking lot can fill up quickly on busy days.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/hiking.htm https://www.justgotravelstudios.com/blogs/just-go-travel-blog/just-go-to-joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-the-ryan-mountain-trail

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area