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Queen Mountain
Joshua Tree National Park, California
April 17, 2018

Despite being the second highest peak in Joshua Tree National Park, Queen Mountain is only a lightweight climb, a short, class 2 trip. To reach the trailhead, you have to drive down a narrow, sandy road. However, most vehicles should be able to handle it. The usual ascent crosses the desert flats and reaches a south-facing gully without the benefit of a trail. The gully leads to the col separating Queen Mountain and Queen Benchmark. Since Queen Benchmark is within easy reach, it's worth the added effort if only to sign the summit register; there is no register on Queen Mountain. After bagging both peaks, one can follow the descent trail down the southwest gully.

It was cold, much cooler than normal for this time of year, when Shin, Dinah and I set off from the trailhead. After hiking across the desert we hit a wash and followed it to the bottom of the gully. After starting up, it became too steep and rocky to stay in the gully so we climbed the left side for a ways. But the terrain soon eased. We dropped back into the gully and followed a faint trail up to the col.

Once on the col, we threaded through rocky terrain to the north side of Queen Mountain. Impressively, Queen is crowned with a huge rock slab. We delighted in walking up this steep rock to the summit. On top, we were greeted by a cold wind so we didn't stay long.

We dropped back down to the col and made our way up the south side of Queen Benchmark. Sitting just 3 m lower than the Mountain, Benchmark didn't seem as cold. We signed the register, took photos and started back down the gully.

Partway down, we found the descent trail, marked with cairns, that follows a shallow gully southwest of the mountain. After climbing much of the mountain without a trail, it came as a surprise to find a good trail going all the way down. We enjoyed the desert scenery as we hiked back to our car.

KML and GPX Tracks


Queen Mountain and Queen Benchmark seen from the trailhead. The ascent gully is hidden but the shallow descent gully (centre) can be seen.


We made our way to a wash that will lead us to the ascent gully


Hiking up the wash


Flowering yucca


Almost at the bottom of the gully


Starting up the gully


When the gully became too difficult to climb, we went up the left side


Back in the gully


Ryan Mountain appears above Dinah


On the col, the lower slopes of Queen Benchmark are right


After reaching the col, we went to the north side of Queen Mountain


We made our way through the rocks to the summit block


Starting up the summit block


Walking up slabs to the top of Queen Mountain


Dinah and I on the summit


Heading down with Queen Benchmark in our sights


From the col, we passed a split rock and made our way up the right side of Queen Benchmark


After scrambling up, we could see the summit cairn


Dinah and Shin look at the summit register


San Gorgonia Mountain is 3500 m high and nearly 70 km from Queen Mountain


Ryan Mountain sits in the foreground. 3300-metre San Jacinto Peak rises behind it.


Starting back down the gully


Cairns mark the turn-off for the descent trail


Starting along the descent trail


Lots of prickly pear cactus here


Looking back at Queen Mountain and Queen Benchmark


We followed the trail down to the desert flats


The trail leads to a road which took us back to the trailhead


Queen Mountain Topo (3.9 mi, 5669 ft, 1204 ft)

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