Some 25 miles east of the town of Big Pine, hiding in plain view off the paved road to Eureka Valley, there is a wonderful basin with a fine selection of day hikes that can be undertaken nearly any month of the year. Many people speed right by Joshua Flat, in the Piper Mountain Wilderness, perhaps on their way to the sand dunes of Eureka Valley, or to Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley Park. A few people may slow to watch for Scott’s Orioles, which are known to nest in the area; fewer still stop to take the time for a stroll.
The higher areas of Joshua Flat surround the trailhead like palisades, guarding and hinting at fantastic views out towards Eureka Dunes, the Inyo Mountains and the Last Chance Range and the flat itself holds a fine example of a Joshua Tree woodland. I suppose anyone who has spent time in the forests of the Sierra may object to calling the dense grove of Joshua Trees at Joshua Flat a “forest” but hey, it’s all relative. For our part of the world, this is about as dense a stand of Joshua Trees as you’re going to get, at least within a hundred miles! And though there are isolated Joshua Trees scattered about here and there to the north, this is one of the northernmost Joshua Tree forests in the West.
For this hike we'll meet at our dependable meeting spot at the Glacier View Campground, just north of Big Pine, on the east side of 395. We can arrange car pools here but note that there are no facilities at the parking spot, so if you need to go stop in at the Chevron in Big Pine. Get one of their yummy burritos for lunch while there. Please bring clothing suitable for any weather condition, food and drink for the day and energy to be out until mid to late afternoon. It's easy enough to turn around and head back to the cars, so if you need or want to leave early for any reason that is easily accomplished.
Snowshoes may be necessary, though this is unlikely, and we won't really know about this until we park - we have a few pairs to lend, or they can be rented at Wilsons Eastside Sports, in Bishop.
Meeting place: Glacier View Campground, Big Pine
Meeting Time: 9am Big pine, Car pool from Bishop leaves FOI HQ at 8:30