Start from the trailhead on the northwest corner of the parking lot. The trail quickly winds through a small gap in the rocks before opening up upon this naturally secluded valley.
Numerous interpretive signs are located along this lollipop providing a little more information about the flora, fauna, and history of this area. The trail is easy to follow, though you should pay attention to where rock barriers are put in place -- there are a lot of climber’s trails that could potentially lead you astray.
At mile 0.6, a small wash marks the backside of the valley, notice how there is more vegetation here. Shade, water, and wind protection form microclimates more suitables for pinyon pine and junipers to thrive than the barren flat desert outside these walls.
Legend has it that in the 1870s two brothers, Bill and Jim, formed the McHaney Gang out of a group of cowboys. The gang stole cattle in Arizona and herded them to this isolated valley where they could be rebranded before being sold in distance markets. Supposedly they did well for themselves until the area became more respectable at the end of the 19th century.
Bill Keys later blasted a larger opening to the valley in order to graze his own livestock in the 1930s, just months before Joshua Tree was designated as a national monument.
Complete the loop hike and stop to consider the human impact on this landscape before heading back to your car.