Since I haven’t been able to hike too much lately because of my foot injury, I have been riding my mountain bike all throughout Joshua Tree National Park for the last four weeks. I thought I’d show a typical area that I have been in and that anyone with a modicum of cycling experience could handle – the beautiful Pleasant Valley area of the park.
The Old Mine Tanks Near The Backboard
Arriving at the Pleasant Valley backboard around five o’clock, I took the bike off my jeep rack and headed out along the sandy dirt roads that ring the valley in an easy to navigate six mile circuit.
Looking Due South
The first leg is heading South towards the far mouth of Berdoo Canyon, a back entrance to the park that is mainly a jeep trail retracing the old road the miners and ranchers used to use to bring hay and supplies up into the area when it was a mining and cattle ranching empire a hundred years ago.
Looking Back North Towards The Backboard
Upon arriving at this sign below, it’s time to turn West and follow the road as it climbs along the base of the mountains. If you go beyond this point on the Berdoo Canyon road, you’re going to start down into the rocky steam bed and through some heavy sand, so have four wheel drive available if you plan on driving down it.
Turn Right (West) At This Sign
As you head West and up, the road leads to a small canyon that sits at the mouth of a series of small mountains that still contain the remains of old mines, the foundation of a general store and various cement tanks and artifacts of bygone times.
Heading West On The Pleasant Valley Circuit
At the top of the ascent you will come to the boundary marker that signals it’s time to turn North on the circuit. I like to rest here as the sun sets and listen to the numerous birds and small animals that make this area their home. If you hike up the canyon you will see the old mine and general store remains, and I once even found part of a cow skeleton that must of been over sixty years old as the last cattle were rounded up in the 1950′s!
Parked At The Boundary Marker To The Canyon
But check out the fine print on the boundary marker:
No Hang Gliders? What the???
I’d love to know why they felt the need to include hang gliders in the warning? Did some dare devils like to sneak out here and soar about over Pleasant Valley? Who were these mysterious “birdmen” who dared fly without permission and require this stern reminder?
The Long And Winding Road Across The Valley
As evening started to fall I headed North down the long road that makes up the upper leg of the Pleasant Valley circuit. From here out it’s mostly downhill even though the terrain makes it look like you’re climbing. It gets sandy here so watch your speed, especially if it’s dark, as you’ll be whipping along and all of a sudden hit deep sand ruts that can make your front tire “crab” and send you into a wobble.
Sunset And Still Miles To Go
I ran out of daylight before I got back to my start point at the Pleasant Valley Backboard, but I often ride at night with a headlamp and it was no big deal, I just couldn’t take anymore pictures. The whole circuit should only take you a couple hours if you haul ass, but I enjoy meandering along and stopping frequently to check things out and enjoy the views. I did this particular trip in August, so it was pretty damn hot, but that’s when there is the least amount of people too.
If you’re into cycling and mountain biking Joshua Tree National Park offers some unreal and beautiful opportunities to get out and enjoy the sun, cactus, rock formations and clean, fresh air. I love riding at night too, especially under a full moon as the effect is ghostly and other-worldly to put it mildly and that’s also when most of the animals come out.
See you out there!
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