The Hole-in-the-Wall Nature Trail in California’s Mojave National Preserve is a boon for those looking to identify some desert plants: the short jaunt, which connects the Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center to the nearby campground, includes more than a dozen identifiers. Who knew there were so many variants on desert sagebrush? The highlights are the large Mojave yucca and two species of cholla (buckhorn and pencil).
Most come to the Hole-in-the-Wall area to camp or hike the nearby Rings Loop Trail. Overnighters and day visitors, however, can also stretch their legs—and test their knowledge of the local flora—on the Hole-in-the-Wall Nature Trail.
Starting at the Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center, cross the road and follow the path heading toward the campground through the sandy desert. Immediately the identifiers appear: squawbush, Mojave yucca, blue yucca, blackbrush. The many varieties of shrubby plants are eye-opening for those—like me, previously—who are quick to dismiss all desert scrub as “sagebrush.” As hikers pass the various plants, the sandy path ever so modestly climbs, featuring expansive views across the sun-soaked flats: the Woods Mountains to the east; Barber Peak to the northwest.
At 2/10 miles, the trail forks. A longer path leads westward to the Rings Loop Trailhead. The hike described here continues right for less than a hundred yards before ending at the Hole-in-the-Wall Campground. Return the way you came for a roughly 20-30 minute out-and-back hike.
After this short introduction, try the harder but still short Rings Loop Trail, which winds through bizarrely beautiful Banshee Canyon.