By far one of the best trails in the entire Mojave National Preserve is the rings trail. This one and half mile trail packs a ton into only a short period of time and has quickly become one of the best small hikes I have been on. If you are in this part of the preserve, it is a must visit.
- Does require some arm strength as you have to pull yourself up iron rings
- 1.5 miles
- 100 feet of elevation gain
Starting at the visitors center near Hole in the Wall campground, this trail quickly begins winding its way around the mountains next to you. It bends and weaves as it proceeds forward, and the longer you walk, the more the mountain starts to show its pock-marked face full of wind-worn caves.
As you head to the front of the mountain, it opens into a vast expanse of prairie-like plains with a large mesa (flat top) mountain looming ahead.
This part of the path is beautiful and has lots to look at on both the mountainside and on the foliage that lines the ground, especially during spring.
Around this area, you will also see the petroglyphs. Honestly, I am not sure if they are real, but they are here.
About a half mile from the start, the trail heads in again, and this is where it starts to blow you away.
As you make your way around the mountain, you will see the giant limestone cliffs that beckon you forward but also create a sense of fear. Behind you is the monolith that juts out of the ground like it was pushed from below. The destination of this part is the crevice between the cliffs.
As you near them you see how massive the cliffs are. They loom above you as you make your way up and into the cut out that the trail leads through.
As you continue to climb, the canyon appears to become a slot canyon, and every rock has chunks missing from it. Some even forming what I thought looked like faces.
The last part of this area is the climb up over a bunch of fallen rocks.
Once you hit the top of the rocks, you will see the rings from which the trail gets its name.
These steel rings are lined along one side of the trail and provide footing up a steep incline. While it would not be impassable without them, they are a welcome addition and one that I enjoyed climbing.
There are two sets of rings that you will be climbing up before you eventually crest at the top of the mountain. This feels like quite an accomplishment, even though the trail was not very hard and is one of those hikes that you will tell others about just because it is unique.
After getting to the top, make sure to head to the overlook as well, there are beautiful views from this location, and it is worth the short excursion.
Even though Kelso Dunes and the lava tube are fantastic, the Rings Trail is easily up there with great trails in the Mojave Preserve. If you haven’t spent much time there, then you really should go out and do it.