Mojave National Preserve

Barber Peak Loop Trail

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While there are a ton of other cool places to visit in the Mojave National Preserve, I’m naming this post after the whole area because to get to “Hole-In-The-Wall” visitor center requires travelling into the center region of the entire preserve, and across the backbone mountain range if you approach from the north, as I did.

I had met a friend in Wild Horse Canyon for a few days of camping and one of those days we decided to do the Barber Peak Loop Trail. I had been excited to see The Rings trail but I can’t even say that qualifies as a hike, so I needed something more. The Barber Peak Loop trail is a six mile loop pieced together from several other trails and roads that eventually circumnavigates the entire Hole in the Wall area. We had done it in the spring and it was pretty cold at night but just warm enough in the daytime.

We started the hike at the Wild Horse Canyon Spur Trail and connected into the loop. This saved the best scenery for last.

Crossing a low pass with cool rock features on the slopes.

The Spur trail connected to the “Mid Hills” trail.

This area of the preserve is up at 4,500 feet and gets more moisture, so it has some great examples of Mojave flora.

After the pass there were some really cool cliffs that showed up ahead. 

The loop was nice and easy and Wild Horse Canyon had a quiet beauty, as well as actual wild horses. But there was one hidden danger out there to be aware of: varmints. I don’t know if they were prairie dogs or ground squirrels but one night they climbed up into my engine and tried to make a nest. In doing so they decided to clear out a few pesky cables, which happened to be the spark plug cables for two of my cylinders. That was very very bad and I had to limp all the way back to Utah with just 4 cylinders firing instead of 6, in my 4Runner. It felt horrible too, like i was completely destroying my engine along the way. Top speed was 70, which actually makes a lot of sense. $200 to fix it but thankfully it wasn’t worse than that.

I had no idea there would be petroglyphs along the hike but these are generally impossible to miss unless you take the Banshee Canyon shortcut.

The east side of Bertha Peak. The much higher walls of Wild Horse Canyon can be seen beyond that. All lava, in fact WHC reminded me of places i’ve been in Hawaii.

The most well built section of trail.

Near the end of the day we finally got to the good stuff.

Hole in the Wall Canyon.

It’s full of sculpted rock. The whole area is from of old volcanics. These are ash formations, maybe a pyroclastic flow, that were full of hot gas pockets. Thus, the holes.

A great sunset was starting up in Wild Horse Canyon.

The walls it up before the clouds got too thick

End of a great hike. I really enjoyed this one. It was very different than what i usually do.

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