Barker Dam Loop Trail is another very popular trail for those visiting Joshua Tree National Park. Built by ranchers in 1900 by C.O. Barker to provide water to his cattle. In 1949, William Keys raised the dam to hold more water. Now the reservoir serves as a water source for the nearby bighorn sheep (assuming it has water).
From the parking lot head north along the trail, passing through a narrow canyon. The trail will turn west and skirt the southern edge of the water. Given the recent droughts, it is unlikely you will find any water here. Once you are done exploring the dam, continue westward along the trail for a short bit until it turns southward. The trail will turn eastward, but just south of this junction there are some petroglyphs that you can view. These have been enhanced to make them more visible to visitors. After viewing the petroglyphs, continue westward to rejoin the trail you used when leaving the parking lot. The entire loop is about 1.5 miles and should take about an hour.
I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest.