a 1.1 mile loop with little elevation gain that takes hikers to the site of an historic dam.
This is a great loop trail for all ages, but if you have adventurous kids, consider letting them scramble a bit. When you get to the dam, don't be afraid to head off trail a bit, into the wash. If you're not familiar with the terrain, don't go far...but certainly explore the area. If you want a longer off-trail experience, hire Joshua Tree Excursions!
Hiking is one of my favorite things to do, but not always for my kids if the trail or destination is boring. The Barker Dam Trail was neither of these things and my kids loved it!
The trail was relatively flat and non-strenuous (although sections were not stroller friendly with rock steps and narrow passages). My kids loved running ahead and climbing small boulders along the side of the trail or walking along beside on higher section of rock. There weren't too many opportunities to climb to dangerous positions so I was relaxed.
The dam itself is small but there is a great carving in the cement by the builders from 1950 (I think that was the date). When we hiked in November, there was no water behind the dam although there was evidence of it. The area had very different vegetation because of the water supply and it was beautiful.
The "backside" of the hike (since we were going counterclockwise) led us through flat desert with tons of Joshua Trees and rock piles in the distance. After a while, the trees didn't look so strange to me and became quite beautiful in the setting sun.
A surprise bonus near the end of the trail was a large rock with petroglyphs. Some had been painted over, and my kids could climb up and see them close (and get too close to touch), so I had mixed feelings... glad to see them but a bit anxious about "disturbing" them.
All in all it was a great hike. There were quite a few other hikers and families on the trail and I am guessing it is quite popular... for good reasons!
TIP: Bring water from outside of the NP. No water is available here.