The Needles District offers over 60 miles of interconnecting trails as challenging as they are rewarding. Conditions are primitive. Most trails traverse a mixture of slickrock benches and Sandy washes. Longer trails are especially rough and require negotiating steep passes with drop-offs, narrow spots, or ladders.
Water in the backcountry is unreliable and scarce in some areas. Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Although most trails can be hiked in a day by strong hikers, many form loops and may be combined with other trails for longer trips. Net elevation change is generally several hundred feet or less, except for the Lower Red Lake Trail, which drops 1,400 feet to the Colorado River.
Chesler Park Loop / Joint Trail
Elevation: 5,120 ft.
Length: 11 mi/18 km round-trip
Start: Elephant Hill Trailhead
Hiking three miles along this trail brings visitors to a saddle overlooking Chesler Park, a scenic expanse of desert grasses and shrubs surrounded by colorful sandstone spires. The loop around Chesler is fairly level and winds through a series of deep, narrow fractures called the Joint Trail. Five backpacking sites. No water.