Hagen Canyon Nature Trail

Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

Trip Date: Sunday, October 30th, 2016
Last Updated: Monday, April 22nd, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 1.2 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons Spring, Fall, Winter
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible No


Hike Summary

Two hours from LA and highway adjacent, the Hagen Canyon Nature Trail is a quick, easy hike that is perfect as a stop on a trip to the Owens Valley, Death Valley, or Eastern Sierra. The park is a popular Hollywood filming destination -- particularly for westerns, but it was also used for Jurassic Park -- so you may recognize the unique cliffs and rock formations along this trail. While it won't take long for you to complete the loop, the scenery is still quite memorable.

The trail forms a short lollipop loop. From the parking lot, follow the path lined with rocks on each side. To the right, you'll see the fascinating cliffs pictured below. When the trail splits, you can choose to do the loop in either direction.

Unique badlands formations along the northwest side of the trail

Unique badlands formations along the northwest side of the trail

Millions of years ago, weathering mountains caused a deposition of sediment. Tectonic activity millions of years later lifted and exposed these layers of rock, and water eroded these soft rocks to form the fantastic badlands and cliffs pictured below. Hidden in some of these rock layers dating 55 to 65 million years old, paleontologists have discovered a wealth of vertebrate fossils, so many that this is the most significant concentration of fossils west of the Rockies.
The red and white striped cliffs of Hagen Canyon

The red and white striped cliffs of Hagen Canyon

Red Rock Canyon State Park is located where the Mojave Desert transitions to the Great Basin. You'll mostly encounter Great Basin scrub like the creosote bush (its tiny, oily leaves smell like rain when you rub them in you hand -- one of my all time favorite plants). In some places, you'll see the Mojave's most iconic plant, the joshua tree.
Great Basin scrub covering the hills

Great Basin scrub covering the hills

Overall, this is a very enjoyable hike suitable for almost anyone. Make a stop next time you drive from LA into the Owens Valley! Connect with me using the social media links below and share your adventures!

Important Information

Dogs are not allowed on established trails in the park. This is a perfect trail for a family hike -- it's flat, scenic, and short. Spring, fall, and winter are the best seasons for hiking since summer temperatures are brutal and there is no shade. No matter what season, bring ample water and wear sun protection! The hike was not as crowded as expected given its highway adjacency, but expect to see others.


From Los Angeles, take Interstate 5 north to California Highway 14 heading north towards Palmdale/Lancaster. Continue on California Highway 14 in Mojave by staying right. Look for signs for the park in about 25 miles, then turn left on Abbott Drive to enter the park. Park in the dirt lot on the left side of the road right after you enter the park.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking in this lot is free (but note that parking at the day-use area by the visitor center is $6). There are no facilities at this lot, so head to the visitor center for restrooms, water, and information.

Nearby Hikes

Tufa spires with the Slate Range in the distance
Trona Pinnacles
California Desert National Conservation Area, California
The view north from Sawmill Mountain into the Central Valley
Mount Pinos and Sawmill Mountain
Los Padres National Forest, California
The beautiful Millard Canyon Falls
Millard Falls
Angeles National Forest, California
A full moon rising above the Topatopa Mountains
Chief Peak
Los Padres National Forest, California

External Links