High Desert Valley
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Trek date: 2016 Mar 25. Explorers Murbachi & E!
ON THIS PAGE WILL BE FOUND a sample of the scenery at Joshua Tree National Park’s Lower Covington Flat. There are two main points of interest in the ‘Lower’ Covington area: the beautiful meandering valley itself and a small mining hillside just east of the picnic area and parking loop. The mine and Upper and Lower flats receive good coverage in my friend Elliot Koeppel’s article HERE and I see nothing further to add.
The portions of Lower Covington from La Contenta Road to the crest of the rise experienced several lightning-strike brush fires in the 1990s and are only now beginning to recover. Other areas are still lush with thick juniper and pinyon pines, especially the hillsides, protected from the day’s baking heat due to their northeast exposure, away from the direct rays. The parking loop and picnic area is listed at 4807ft elevation on the survey map.
Although we did not traverse the whole valley, we did encounter pockets of thick vegetation. Several Joshua Trees and Mojave yuccas were also displaying beautiful early Spring flower stalks. Lower Covington is connected to Upper Covington by a 5.7 mile ‘loop’ hiking trail as well as by a winding dirt road up over a 5200ft elevation ridge to the back country board and parking circle a few miles southwest from Lower Covington.
Take the La Contenta intersection, right, off of Highway 62 and when the pavement gives way to a dirt road, continue south climbing steadily in elevation. Stop at the junction of La Contenta and Covington Flats Road to photograph this unusual little abandoned tower before heading on up the valley to the open ‘flat.’
I hope you find the scenery here as charming and beautiful as I did. Leading into the area, which Elliot and I did not explore, is a small canyon off to the left (east) called Nolina Cove. That is seems to have been impacted by the fires dissuaded us from parking at the dirt turnout and exploring. But the unusual looking rocky hillsides within the canyon or ‘cove’ surely deserve future exploration!
Fire Damaged Area ♦ Vegetation Recovering
Note several Mojave yuccas blooming in this first shot. The fires occurred in 1995 and 1999. Even after 20 years, the area is only beginning to recover, typical for parched desert environments. The hillside in the second shot is where E! can be seen hiking up the low ridge to the mine workings. They are barely visible in the gray tailing pile at center, above which the white quartz mine site further up the slope must have lured gold seekers. You can also see a portion of the rusted iron tracks descending the hill immediately left of the quartz outcrop. The sixth shot in this group shows a pocket of original vegetation untouched by the fire that scorched the adjacent area.
2D Lower Covington Flat
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This was primarily a preview trip to Lower and Upper Covington Flats for me. I definitely want to explore further!
Temple City, California
Posted 2016 Apr 6
Updated 2017 Nov 4