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Joshua Trees and Juniper

Ripley Desert Woodland State Park

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 0.3 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview :  Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park is a small, unassuming park with a pair of trails through preserved Juniper and Joshua... more »

Tips:  Location:
The park is located approximately seven miles west of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve on Lancaster Road (an... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Park Entrance

The entrance to the park is located in the heart of the Antelope Valley, just a few miles west of Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve. Watch for the most highly vegetated plot of land along the northerly side of Lancaster Road. You'll know you're there by the state park sign and green gate.

Parking is along the roadside in the wide margin.... More

2. Picnic Area

Head in through the gate, up the short trail and into the picnic area. This will serve as the trail head, shade, and a nice place to have lunch.

The picnic tables are under cover which really helps on those hot days. There is also an outhouse located nearby.

Just north of the picnic benches is an informational billboard outlining the park,... More

3. Interpretive Trail POI 10

Juniper (more on junipers later).

4. Interpretive Trail POI 2

I did not see a Point of Interest 1 on the interpretive trail(the post may have been removed or damaged) however, on your way up the trail look for light green, rounded shrubs near and around the junipers. These are linear leafed goldenbrush (Ericameria linearifolius), a common spring-blooming plant that are covered with simple yellow daisy-like... More

5. Interpretive Trail POI 3

California Juniper (Juniperus californica).

The juniper has both male and female plants. This plant is likely male. Females have berries that appear as blue-green cones. They provide food for birds and rodents.

6. Interpretive Trail POI 4

Near the post the silver leafed blue shrub is called Blue Sage which is a very fragrant plant, especiallyduring the rains and in the spring.

Blue flowers grow on spikes in the spring. This plant belongs to the mint family and is closely related to another plant here called the chia.

Dead stocks of the chia can be spotted nearby and appear as... More

7. Interpretive Trail POI 5

Smaller Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia-Herbertii). These trees can germinate from seed or grow from underground rhizomes from a parent tree, essentially as clones.

While the seeds can germinate readily, they are mostly eaten by local animals.

8. Interpretive Trail POI 6

Joshuas are among the strangest looking plants! The branches reaching up and out are called crown sprouts.

These trees grow in sandy soils and up to 14' high. Leaves appear as green spikes. As the leaves age they turn gray and fold down, covering the trunk.

Scientists are not quite sure how old Joshuas get. 800 year old trees have been found,... More

9. Interpretive Trail POI 7

Pieces of wood on the ground are called petrified yucca.

The material can get very dense and quite heavy as the living plant incorporates silica from the surrounding sands to help heal injury cause by insects, fire, and wind. Less-damaged deadwood from yucca plants in contrast are generally lighter and more fibrous.

The early settlers prized... More

10. Junction

The trail heading northwesterly (left) is the park's longer trail. For this walk, take the right-hand (northeasterly) trail.

11. Interpretive Trail POI 8

Beavertail cacti (Opuntia echinocarpa). This represents one of the two indigenous cacti in the Antelope Valley. Its springtime bloom is a showy, magenta flower up to 3 inches wide.

The flowers mature into a wine-colored fruit that was eaten by the local Native American Yokuts.

12. Interpretive Trail POI 9

Looking closely at the ground around the post, you will see small black spots. When wet they look like a spongy black moss. They are actually a crytogramic crust created by cyanbacteria, which happens to be the oldest known life form on the planet.

What they do is create a durable crust that enhances the soil's strength and durability against... More

13. Interpretive Trail POI 10

Junipers were cut by early settlers for both firewood and fence posts. As you travel through the region, some of these old posts can still be seen as they have rot resistance comparable to redwood.

You will also see rodent burrows and debris piles at the base of many of the plants. Also, the large piles of twigs are wood rat's nests. Don't... More

14. Interpretive Trail POI 11

Elderberry Tree (Sambucus Mexicans). This is a large bushy tree which is growing outside its normal environment up in the local mountains. The berries are eaten by local birds and small animals, and humans even use the berries in jellies. In early Europe there was the belief that witches lived in these trees.

15. Interpretive Trail POI 12

Mormon Tea (Ephedra nevadensis). Surrounding the post are green plants that appear as stems with no leaves. The tiny leaves appear in the spring. Male plants can have orange stamen growths from nodules. Female plants will produce small green cones.

Local Native American Kitanemuks used the plant for a tea useful in treating upper respiratory... More

16. End

Return to the picnic area.