Peak 5,100ft P500
Roadside Rock
Lizards Hangout
Trashcan Rock
Peak 4,750ft P300

Sun, Jan 29, 2023

With: Iris Ma
Tom Becht

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2


Having camped the night in the town of Joshua Tree, Iris and I met Tom in the morning at the NPS Visitor Center, having driven in from his home in SoCal. We left vehicles at the visitor center and carpooled in the Jeep into the national park for a day of peakbagging. Only the first and last were actual peaks with prominence, the others were all roadside climbing crags found on LoJ and in Randy Vogel's Rock Climbing Joshua Tree. We tackled them without any beta, trusting they'd all be class 3 by some route or another that we planned to discover.

Peak 5,100ft

This was the longest outing of the day, about 3.5mi roundtrip and almost 1,000ft of gain. The peak is located between the Lost Horse Ranger Station and Johnny Lang Canyon. One can only drive about half the distance between the paved park road and the ranger station, beyond which is only open to NPS vehicles. The first half mile is an easy hike on the continuing road to the ranger station, then a short distance up a sandy wash to the west where the easy part abruptly ends. Our route, in fact just about any route, changed to a scramble-fest, almost all the way to the summit. There was a jumble of granite boulders filling the wash and much of the surrounding hillsides. We had lots of fun class 3 scrambling, and a few easy sections to give us short breaks. It was chilly this morning with a stiff wind that would have us in extra layers most of the day. A weak storm system was moving in from west and would cover larger portions of the sky as the day progressed. We spent about an hour and a quarter to reach the summit where we quickly ducked onto the leeward side to get out of the cold blowing over the top. We left a register here before descending to the north, for no other reason than to cover new ground and make a partial loop of the outing. Overall, I think the descent route to the north was easier than the southern ascent route. We were back to the trailhead a short time before noon, making for a 3.5hr outing.

Roadside Rock - Lizards Hangout

These two crags are located near the junction of the Lost Horse spur road and the paved park road. There is a nice parking lot at this junction where we left the Jeep. Iris led the way up Roadside Rock, finding a route up the east side, then north to the summit. We found a harder, alternate descent, more directly off the east side through a narrow groove. We then sauntered northwest the short distance to Lizards Hangout, the smallest of the day's crags. We went up this one from the northeast side, then down the northwest side, standard class 3. About half an hour for the two crags.

Trashcan Rock - APFA Rock

These two crags are located about a mile to the northwest of the other two. We parked at the Quail Springs TH next to Trashcan Rock and did both from there. Trashcan was a little tricky, and the only scramble route appears to be from the northwest end (the east side ends abruptly with big air). There is a big, airy step-across that stopped Tom with a bad knee. Iris and I made it to the top while Tom wandered around the base, hoping for an alternate way up. He didn't find it. APFA Rock is most easily ascended via the east side where large slabs are found in the middle of the face. Not knowing this, we first tried to get up from the north, wandering up until stopped by vertical walls. We moved to the right on some ledges, descending a short distance to discover a chimney going up the west side. Not knowing if this would work, I went up first, finding it great fun and feeling pretty secure. Iris followed, while Tom went around to the south and eventually the east side where he found the easier way up. After summiting, we all went down this side, though Tom found what he thought a better alternative to the slabs. I thought the angle was fine, crab-walking my way down the steepest part of it. We spent about an hour for both of these.

Peak 4,750ft

This is an unnamed summit about a mile and change NNW of Peak 5,100ft. The two could probably be done together, but we hadn't planned this until we found ourselves with a few extra hours of daylight after our cragging session. We should have simply started from the previous parking spot, but instead parked along the side of the paved park road a short distance to the north. The outing would be shy of 3mi roundtrip, barely 800ft of gain. The cross-country to the base of the peak is very easy, and enjoyable towards the end of a busy day. Unlike Peak 5,100ft, this one has almost none of the boulder scrambling, making for a pretty straightforward, class 2 ascent from the northeast. Only the last 30-40ft has an real scrambling. We spent about an hour on the ascent and the same for the return. We were following the ascent route fairly closely on the way down because Iris had lost her sunglasses in the windy conditions. We did not find the glasses, sadly.

Finishing up by 3:45p, we headed back to town where we had decent Thai food. Oddly, everything was served with disposable plates and cutlery, the dishes delivered in take-out containers. Iris headed home afterwards while Tom and I headed north of town to the same spot we'd camped at the previous evening.


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