The hike to the Eagle Cliff Mine, is one of the most rewarding hikes in Joshua Tree National Park. There are two trailhead options, one beginning at the Split Rock Backcountry board, and the other from the Pine City Backcountry board. I’ve only ever performed the hike from Pine City, so that is what my experiences are based off of.
From the trailhead you wind down into Desert Queen Wash, then climb to the top of the ruins of the Desert Queen Mine, via an old dusty dirt road. Passing by the Desert Queen Mine, you’ll find that little of interest remains, a majority of the surface ruins have long been removed from the landscape, and the mines have all been caged off.
From the Desert Queen Mine, the road disappears, and a trail appears. The trail is fairly easy to follow, and previous visitor have created rock cairns in places that may cause confusion. The trail winds you through a landscape filled with cartoon like boulder formations, and every form of prickly plant imaginable. It truly is an unspoiled area!
Despite only being a three mile trek, you will likely find that you have the trail to yourself. The feeling of remoteness, and aloneness is far too much for the average day visitor. Enjoy it, as it beginning to become difficult to find places like this in Joshua Tree, as visitation has nearly doubled from just a few short years ago.
Once arriving, you are in for one of the sweetest treats in the National Park. The Eagle Cliff Mine is one of the earliest mine workings in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. While no real valuable documentation of the mine has survived, archeologist have been able to date the site to as early as 1895, based on artifacts that were found at the site in 1975.
While the mine itself is not accessible, the rock shelter/structure in which the miners called home is. The structure, while primitive was probably looked at as being rather luxurious back in the day. Built into an outcropping of massive granite boulders, and containing pane glass windows, a shingled roof, and stone cased walls. The interior, decorated with a stone counter/drainboard/stove, fireplace, and hand built shelving. Dozens of artifacts remain in the structure, including original pots & pans, utensils, crates, and a collection of various types of tin cans and containers.
Once you finish perusing the structure, find a comfortable boulder, and take in the breathtaking view from the Eagle Cliffs.