Lost Horse Mine, Joshua Tree

an easy 6.7-mile hike

Lost Horse Mine, Joshua Tree

October 26, 2013

The Lost Horse Mine got its name, basically from being in the Lost Horse Valley. Johnny Lang and his father drove their herd of cattle into Lost Horse Valley in the 1890’s. One night while camping in the Lost Horse Valley, the Langs’ horses disappeared. Johnny tracked the horses to the McHaney Gang, which were cattle rustlers. They told Johnny they didn’t have their horses and to leave the area.

Johnny then met up with a man named “Dutch” who told him he was also threatened by the McHaney Gang. Dutch said he discovered a rich claim, but was afraid to develop it. John and his father bought out Dutch for $1,000 and called it Lost Horse.

A wealthy rancher, J.D. Ryan from Montana, bought out Johnny and his partners in 1895.

Between 1894 and 1931, the Lost Horse Mine produced 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000 ounces of silver.

I’ve only been to Joshua Tree twice before and absolutely love it! It’s about a two hour drive from my home in Orange County. I was hoping to hike to Lost Palm Oasis and then make a side detour to Mastodon Peak. About 11 to 12 miles total.

So I pull up to buy my parking pass at 8:00 to find out they didn’t open till 9:00 and also found out that Lost Palm Oasis was closed due to a flash flood that washed away a few trails. Not knowing Joshua Tree that well, I was wondering what I was going to do next. I remember reading about the Lost Horse Mine years ago and it being a 6.2 mile hike. A little short for a 2-hour drive, but I needed to hike so I started driving towards the other end of the park. It was like a 30 mile drive!

Everything at Joshua Tree is well marked and most trailheads have a restroom. It was still early and there were only a few people there.

It’s about a 2.2 mile hike to the Lost Horse Mine. It was 76 degrees out and the trail is pretty easy. I was hiking by myself so I tend to hike really fast. I got to the mine in about 30 minutes. I was happy to see that this place wasn’t ruined by graffiti or trash and everything is pretty much intact.

After spending roughly 15 minutes checking things out, I was back on the trail to complete the loop. Less than half a mile from leaving the mine, you find yourself overlooking the valley. It is beautiful! The valley looks like something you would see in a movie. The trail heads downhill from there. At 3 miles you run into this trail marker/chimney. It looks like someone started it years ago and everyone that passes it, places another rock on top, like I did. It’s now about 10’ tall.

I didn’t see any wildlife during this hike, which is always a bit disappointing to me, but I did see all kinds of cactus, joshua trees and enjoyed the unbelievable views.

With me taking a detour to the mine, it ended up being a 6.7 mile hike. The last mile is kind of sandy and gives your calves a good workout. This was a great hike. I will hike it again as I really enjoyed it and I do recommend it.

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