Moonlight Mesa
Mt. Nebo
Peak 2,841ft P300
Knoels Knoll
Chocolate Drop
Donnell Hill
Campbell Hill
Short Wall
Dark Shadows Rock
Feudal Wall
Willit Pillar
Billboard Buttress
South Park Peak West
Peak 4,783ft P300

Fri, Jan 27, 2023

With: Patrick O'Neill

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 6 GPX

It had been almost a month since I had last gotten out for some peakbagging, and after spending most of January either mopping up or waiting out the rain, I finally snuck out for a short 4-day desert trip. I headed to the town of Joshua Tree to do some stuff around the desert town in the southern part of San Bernardino County. I got to the area around noon, doing a bunch of minor summits until Patrick was due to arrive in the latter part of the afternoon.

Moonlight Mesa

Not really a summit, just an empty lot near the corner of Celesta St and Desert Shadow Rd, out in the nether regions of scattered homesteads northeast of town. There's a neighbor immediately adjacent to the west, but a high fence makes this less intrusive.

Mt. Nebo

Just NE of Moonlight Mesa, Mt Nebo at least has a few hundred feet of prominence. There are residences to the north and south. I parked at the end of Rice Ave on the SW side and went up and back in 15min. There's a battered benchmark at the top and a large rock windbreak for camping/drinking with a view.

Peak 2,841ft

This is the second highest (and only other) summit of Copper Mtn, between Joshua Tree and 29 Palms. Jeep roads get you to a defunct mine on the east side of the peak. Other roads, not shown on the topo map, can get you even closer on the south and west sides. I used the mine road and went up the rocky East Slope in about 15min. Remnants of a survey tower can be found with views southwest to dry Coyote Lake.

Knoels Knoll

Another very minor point like Moonlight Mesa, this one has little discernable rise, found on the west side of 29 Plans and a close resident to the east, across Easy St.

Chocolate Drop

Found on the northwest side of 29 Palms, just south of 2 Mile Rd, one can drive to the top from the south and southwest. I parked off 2 Mile Rd and took two minutes to hike the easy slope to the top.

Donnell Hill

This one is found south of SR62 in 29 Palms, a near drive-up. Paved Cactus Dr takes one to the water tank just east of the highpoint. A spur road to an empty house pad on the northwest side makes for good parking and a 30 second hike to the top. A wooden cross reinforced with a steel pipe is found at the summit.

Campbell Hill

This sandy hill is found northeast of 29 Palms. A water tank is hidden from view just east of the highpoint. I was able to drive to the summit up a sandy road on it's NW side starting from Amboy Rd. I went off the north side down the steep sand afterwards. Good fun.

Indian Cove

Patrick was supposed to join me earlier, but heavy traffic out of LA would delay him for a few hours. So I headed to Indian Cove on the north side of Joshua Tree NP, to the popular rock climbing area. LoJ has added about nine popular rocks found in Randy Vogel's Rock Climbing Joshua Tree. I had enough time to do five of these before I had to leave to meet Patrick. They were all quite challenging, especially without any beta. I parked in the lot between Short Wall and Dark Shadow Rock and visited each of the five in turn. I found them all in the 4th to low 5th class range. Half of the fun was figuring out the routes, each with at least a few spicy moves. I spent just over an hour scrambling here. Will have to come back to try the others.

South Park Peak West - Peak 4,783ft

I drove to the South Park area south of Yucca Valley on the NW corner of Joshua Tree NP. Patrick finally arrived around 4:30p, and we were ready to head out sometime after 5p, not long before sunset. This would be a headlamp hike well before we were done. Starting from the High View Nature Loop TH, we first headed to South Park Peak West, a slightly higher version of the official South Park Peak shown on the topo map. It's a fairly short climb, taking about 15min to reach from the TH. The more interesting objective was Peak 4,783ft, the westernmost summit in Joshua Tree NP. After descending the SW side of the first summit, we picked up a park trail which we followed west down a drainage to pick up another trail heading south up an adjoining drainage. This trail climbs up to Warren Peak before descending to the east into Black Rock Canyon. Our route would follow the trail only a short distance before heading southwest towards Peak 4,783ft. The cross-country is mildly brushy, nothing difficult, but we wouldn't get far before breaking out the headlamps - not wanting to stumble into a yucca or cactus. The final 400ft were terribly steep and seemed to go on forever. We kept thinking we were near the top, only to find more ground to cover. A bit more than an hour after leaving the first summit, we gained the summit. It was windy and quite chilly, and three layers didn't seem enough. We could see the lights of Yucca Valley to the north and those of the Coachella Valley to the south as we looked over the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mtns. We dropped back down the NE Face via a slightly different route, not really better or worse. It was nearly 7p before we managed to find our way back to the trail which we could then follow for the next half hour back to the TH. Ours were the only two vehicles left in the lot, no real surprise. It would be a tepid shower tonight, but a fun day overall...


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