Old Dale Road

4.8/5 (26 reviews)
Twentynine Palms, California (San Bernardino County)
Last Updated: 01/11/2023
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Trail Information

Highlights

Old Dale Road is a historic route that served as the central corridor for the Old Dale Mining District in what is now the northeast corner of Joshua Tree National Park. Numerous side trails branch off from Old Dale Road and lead to the remains of old mining sites and ruins to explore. The road is also a fun and challenging off-road trail, with steep climbs into the Pinto Mountains on a narrow, rocky path. Old Dale is a popular destination for overlanders. You can easily plan a multi-day trip traveling Old Dale and its connecting trails, exploring the remains of mining operations, and enjoying the rich geography of the area. This area also makes a great day trip from Joshua Tree National Park — just get an early start as the trail is long and there's much to see. Old Dale Road traverses the two great deserts of Southern California, which meet within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park. The trail begins in the Sonoran Desert, which is the hotter and drier ecosystem and features vegetation consisting mostly of cholla cacti, ocotillos, and ironwood trees. As you travel north on Old Dale Road you’ll notice the landscape change to yucca, creosote, and the famous Joshua trees, marking the transition to the Mojave Desert.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Trail Reviews

4.8/5 (26 reviews)
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 01/14/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

I ran this north to south, and as Keenan below mentions the crux of this trail's difficulty is in the mountain pass near the golden egg and the North Star/Sunset mine. Since I ran it north to south, the tricky section was all downhill for me and therefore easier. I'd say larger tires are required and a moderate lift is highly recommended. I'm rating this harder as per the guide's direction, but if you only run it north to south then it's more appropriate to say spot on. If you're out in J tree, this is an excellent alternative to the standard way into the park!
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 01/14/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Ran this in our 2011 JKU with 4” lift, 35’s, and 5.13 gears, and another 2015 JKU with 3” lift and 35’s. About 85% of the trail is washboard dirt road, but the remaining 15% is definitely on the high end of moderate rating. Around the middle of the trail is when things get more interesting as you go through a mountain pass area and the trail gets more treacherous. We ended up hitting that hard section of the trail in the dark and made it just fine, but it is slow going and I would highly advise against it without at least a small lift and big tires. It did seem like rain had washed the trail out possibly making it more difficult than it has been in the past. As we are pretty experienced off-roaders at this point we did not spot each other, but beginners will definitely require good spotting in the hard section to make it through without body damage. Last thing to note is the difficult section is pretty much on a shelf road so if you are nervous of heights beware.
Josh Noesser
Official Crew
99850
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 01/11/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier

Just ran the trail as part of a 2-day overland trip. The trail was pretty smooth and was able to get through it pretty easily.
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 12/26/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Fun! We ran it from north to south. The trail is exactly as advertised. Lots of washboard straight roads with a few rocky sections, and LOTS AND LOTS of side excursions and things to see. I had no issues whatsoever with anything technical and most was done in 2 wheel High., with 4 wheel low used mainly to slow steep decents. Unfortunately we ran it blindly because the upload of the GPX to GAIA remained unfound in my tablet so we missed most of the side excursions. Well, at least my regular wheeling buddy who was passenger NOW understands WHY I bought him a subscription to Trails OffRoad and he now sees that we missed pretty much all the side excursions. And he's installing the app on his tablet today. From now on there will be a planning pow-wow where we look at the route and figure out what we want to do. This was a day trip from LA so the 450 miles in one day without much side adventures to get out of the car and move around was plain dumb. Plus, we were done by 3:00 PM so we took Pinto Basin Road up into the park on what was probably the most tourist-filled day of the year for the park, adding to the driver tiredness and shock that we encountered such a mass of humanity in the desert. I mention this because we can't be the only knuckleheads with non-vehicle preparation problems! Waypoints and side excursions will now be planned so we don't miss all the fun!
Trail Review: Old Dale Road - Jeff Siegel
Trail Review: Old Dale Road - Jeff Siegel
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Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 12/17/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This is my first time playing around in the Pinto Basin portion of the Park. Was a little more trail like than road like in some spots which made it fun. Not too many people off the roads today, but a lot of people on the paved roads around the park.

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