How a National Trails Day Tradition Begins


Desert Institute volunteers hit the trail today in honor of National Trails Day. The hike was also a celebration of the hard work completed over the spring-2014 season of field classes.


Joshua Tree National Park, CA – June 7, 2014. Desert Institute volunteers hiked the Crown Prince Lookout Trail in celebration of National Trails Day.

The American Hiking Society launched National Trails Day over twenty-five years ago. The holiday promotes trail systems across the United States by encouraging groups to get out and hike, bike, run, and volunteer on trails. It is celebrated coast to coast every year on the first Saturday in June.

This year, National Trails Day fell just one day after the 70th commemoration of the D-Day Invasion. With this on their minds, Desert Institute volunteers started their hike on the Crown Prince Lookout Trail this morning. It is one of the few trails in Joshua Tree National Park that harkens back to the days when General Patton trained troops in the Mojave Desert.

On the Crown Prince Lookout Trail, hikers retrace the same path as soldiers training and serving during World War II, following an old jeep road that ends at an aircraft lookout post.


A view south, toward Pinto Mountain, from the Crown Prince Lookout.

On the hike today, stands of California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) lined the trail, puffy and looking like clouds. Desert woolly star (Eriastrum eremicum), one of the last spring annuals to bloom, also sprinkled the landscape with purple. The group enjoyed sweeping views and clear blue skies at the top of the lookout, gazing toward Pinto Mountain, the Pinto Basin, the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks, including the Astrodome, Queen Valley, and Queen Mountain.

The two-hour hike ended with an impromptu toast. With camelback hoses in hand, they toasted to National Trails Day and to being outside enjoying Joshua Tree National Park.


Desert Institute volunteers navigate the short section of rock scrambling required to reach the top of the Crown Prince Lookout.

Our volunteers hope to make today’s inaugural National Trails Day hike a tradition. There was something special about being on the trail in support of a bigger cause and in solidarity with hikers nationwide. National Trails Day is a time to treasure being outside — something this group loves to do.

Are you interested in joining our team of volunteers as a Field Class Representative? The next training session is Sep. 5-7, 2014. Visit our volunteer page for more information.

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