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Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Campground Kiosk (view N)

Overview

This loop trail links together trails and dirt roads to make a nice 1.7-miles loop through the campground that has grand views from up on the flanks of Barber Peak and runs though an area thick with several species of cactus and some unusually tall Mojave Yucca. The trail is a bit rocky in places, but it is easy to follow and well marked.

There are several places to start this loop (campground, visitor center, picnic area), and it can be walked in either direction, but for simplicity, the description starts at the campground kiosk.

Link to map.

Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Campground road (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this hike is about as safe as it gets, plus hikers are almost always in sight of the campground. In the "cactus garden," be careful of spines, and always keen an eye out for snakes in the desert and wild Winnebagos in the campground.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this hike is short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Barber Peak Loop Trail spur trailhead (view N)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Mojave National Preserve, about 2 hours south of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to Mojave National Preserve and the Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 0502), which is about 85 miles south of town. For hikers not using the campground, park here; this is a good trailhead.

For hikers using the campground, from the Visitor Center, drive north for a minute or so on Black Canyon Road, pull into the campground (Site 1446), and select your campsite. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Barber Peak Loop Trail trailhead sign (view N)

The Hike

From the Hole-in-the-Wall Campground kiosk (Table 2; Waypoint 01), the loop runs north on campground roads to the north end of the campground where a spur of the Barber Peak Loop Trail begins (Wpt. 02). Following this trail, the loop continues north to a barbed-wire fence.

Following the fence west, the loop climbs the hillside to a trail junction (Wpt. 03) with the main Barber Peak Loop Trail. The loop does not go through the gate, but rather continues along the south side of the fence as it climbs higher onto the flanks of Barber Peak.

Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Trail follows barbed-wire fence (view W)

The trail bends to the south and the grade eases as the loop reaches a highpoint (Wpt. 04) overlooking the campground and the surrounding landscape. This area was burned in the 2005 Hackberry Fire, but shrubs (Matchweed, Littleleaf Ratany, Eastern Mojave Buckwheat), bunchgrasses (Big Galleta Grass), and annual forbs (i.e., desert wildflowers) are returning; even some Mojave Yucca are resprouting. With little vegetation, the views up and down the valley are grand, and the shimmering roof of the visitor center, at the end of the loop, is visible. The trail continues south, more-or-less on the contour, but descending gently across the hillside.

The trail eventually exits the fire zone, and here the vegetation is thick and diverse. Among other species, most of the cactus species in the area can be seen along this section of trail (California Barrel Cactus, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus, Buckhorn Cholla, Silver Cholla, Pancake Pricklypear, and Grizzlybear Pricklypear). There are also some unusually tall Mojave Yucca and a few California Juniper.

Cactus Garden Loop Trail
At gate, trail follows barbed-wire fence (view W)

About 200 yards before reaching the picnic area, the trail drops out of the richly vegetated area into what looks like a very old burn. Few shrubs have come back, but the bunchgrasses are doing well. Passing the picnic area, the trail hugs the cliffs until emerging onto the road at the Rings Trail trailhead (Wpt. 05).

Following the road downhill to the visitor center, the loop turns off the road to the left onto the Nature Trail (Wpt. 06). Several species of shrubs and cactus are identified along the trail, giving hikers a chance to learn the names of species seen on the hillside above.

The Nature Trail runs north to a sign, then turns right and runs out to the campground road (Wpt. 07). Turning left, the loop is closed in a few yards when hikers reach the kiosk (Wpt. 01).

Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Climbing onto the flank of Barber Peak (view SE to campground)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Trail on the flank of Barber Peak (view S)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
High on the flank of Barber Peak (view SE to visitor center)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
High on the flank of Barber Peak (view N)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
High on the flank of Barber Peak (view NW towards summit)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Exiting the burn area (view SE)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Juniper tree, Mojave Yucca, and Barrel Cactus (view SE)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Trail descends toward Hole in the Wall (view SE)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus on hillside
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus flower
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Catclaw Acacia and stout Mojave Yucca
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Buckhorn Cholla along trail (view NW)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Mojave Yucca and Buckhorn Cholla below Barber Peak (view NW)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Buckhorn Cholla with flower
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Trail descends the hillside (view S towards Banshee Peak)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Unusually tall Mojave Yucca
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Entering old burn near picnic area (view S)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Trail arrives at picnic area
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
A good picnic table for a cold, winter day (view N)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Barber Peak Trailhead at Rings Trail parking area (view NE)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Barber Peak Trailhead at Rings Trail parking area (view NE)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Loop follows picnic area road towards visitor center (view E)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Loop follows road towards visitor center (view E)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Hole in the Wall Visitor Center (view SW)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Hole in the Wall Nature Trail (view N towards campground)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Hole in the Wall Nature Trail (view N towards campground)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Banana Yucca (aka Blue Yucca) identified along Nature Trail (view E)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Buckhorn Cholla identified along Nature Trail (view E)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Hole in the Wall Nature Trail (view N towards campground)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Nature Trail turns right (view N into campground)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Nature Trail directional sign (view NW)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Nature Trail runs out to Campground Road (view E)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Loop turns left onto Campground Road (view E)
Cactus Garden Loop Trail
Loop returns to the campground kiosk (view N)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0502 Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center 646403 3878704 35.04221 115.39490 4,260 Yes
1446 Hole in the Wall Campground Kiosk 646598 3879133 35.04605 115.39269 4,282 Yes

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 646595 3879135 4,281 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 North Trailhead 646536 3879679 4,391 0.35 0.35 GPS
03 Gate at Trail Junction 646315 3879772 4,423 0.19 0.54 GPS
04 Highpoint 646194 3879596 4,489 0.16 0.70 GPS
05 Rings Trailhead 646180 3878907 4,252 0.53 1.23 GPS
06 Nature Trail Trailhead 646429 3878754 4,268 0.21 1.44 GPS
07 Nature Trail End 646588 3879060 4,268 0.25 1.69 GPS
01 Trailhead 646595 3879135 4,281 0.04 1.73 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130522

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