Thursday, September 14, 2017

Crown Prince Lookout Hike

I posted a while ago on what I called the "Jeep Trail Hike" (Part 1 and Part 2). I spotted this unmarked trail on Google Maps and it's easy to see that it's a double track trail, probably made by vehicles many years ago. It's a fun hike with lots of great photography along the way. At one point, the Jeep Trail ends at what I was calling "Zen Rocks", a fascinating circular labyrinth of rocks, and another of the many mysteries within the Park. Here's where it get's interesting. I shared my photo of the zen rocks labyrinth on the Joshua Tree National Park Photographer's Facebook page, and I think it was Elliot Koeppel (click here to check out his post) who said something like "sounds like the old Crown Prince Lookout access road." Huh??? I've never heard of the Crown Prince Lookout, but turns out that is in fact the more accurate name for my "Jeep Trail". As I read Elliot's post and searched for additional information, I felt certain I could find the Crown Prince Lookout. I've since hiked out to the Lookout three times, and would gladly go again. It's one of my favorite hikes and pretty exhilarating when you get to the top and see the 360-degree views. And I've never seen another person on this hike, so relatively unknown and great for solitude.

The Crown Prince Lookout is one of those "unconfirmed rumors", or if you like, add it to the long list of JTNP mysteries. If you do a Google search, you will learn that the lookout is on the south end of a large boulder mass, but the exact location isn't all that well defined. The lookout was reportedly used during WW2 as an enemy aircraft warning station operated by the U.S. Army, according to information being passed along person to person and blog to blog. Little remains today except for a mysterious 3' x 3' concrete block and multiple anchor points and foundation bolts cemented into place. I found one blog here that mentions a book called On Foot in Joshua Tree National Park by Patty Furbush which mentions details of the hike and that the Lookout was used during WW2 by the military. I don't have a copy of the book, and not sure if the author was able to somehow confirm (beyond word of mouth rumor) the military use of the lookout. Why it is named "Crown Prince", exactly what was built on the site, during what years was it operational, and when it was taken down all remain a mystery (at least to me!).

 Along the Crown Prince Lookout road. 

 Dinosaur egg (they are all over the place out here!)

After about a mile, the road forks (stay right). You will soon see the big rock pile center/right in the photo above, which is the Crown Prince Lookout. Trust me that the fisheye lens distorts things, and as you get closer to the rocks, they are quite massive. I can pretty much guarantee that your first thought will be "there is no way in heck I'm going to be able to climb up on top of those rocks!!"

Here's a much better image to see the Crown Prince Lookout rocks (arrow). Photo credit: Elliot Koeppel.

There's a faint trail that leads around the east side of the rocks. It slowly climbs higher in elevation.

There are some very pretty views from the east side of the Crown Prince Lookout... and we haven't even climbed up to the top yet!

We found it! Near as I can tell, this is the only way up to the top of Crown Prince Lookout. The "trail" pretty much ends here. This is my cousin Scott, looking back to me as if to say "Really? You expect me to climb up this??" That's his daughter Karen scurrying up without any problem.

Once you make it up the 15' "chute", you reach a flat area with steep steps leading up towards the Lookout. Almost looks to me like someone has done some stonework to help shape these steps a bit. If you turn around and face away from the steps...

... this is what you see! But wait, the view gets even better.

Up on top of the Crown Prince Lookout, this is the view north from the east side of the Lookout.

And here's the view south. You feel like you are on top of the world! The south and west views are the most dramatic, with steep drop-offs. Not a good place to be if you have a fear of heights!

Once you get on top of the Lookout, there are many signs of something having been built here (see the pipe sticking out of the ground in the lower part of the photo?). Also, very surprising how flat it is on top. From down below, it just looks like a huge jumble of rocks.

 Another support or anchor of some kind cemented into the rock. Lots of these around.

If you look closely, there are nails all over the place. But no wood and very little glass. Hard to say exactly what was here, but whoever cleaned things up did a very thorough job!

Here it is... the elusive and mysterious 3' x 3' concrete block! You know you've found the Crown Prince Lookout when you find this. It's at the southwest end of the rock mount and has a very commanding view, with especially excellent views to the west.

We found a small plastic container hidden under a nearby bush with a pad of paper and pencil for people to sign in and make comments. It's fun to read the stuff written by intrepid travelers who actually were able to find this spot. I have no idea what cousin Scott wrote on this visit. Guess I'll have to check it out next time I go!

So, while I have no idea what this concrete slab was used for back in the day, I know what it's perfect for now!!

A totally fun hike... with cousin Scott, myself, Scott's daughter Karen, my sister Kyle and brother-in-law Steve.

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!
Thanks for stopping by!!

38 comments:

  1. Wow! I am exhausted from the hike ~ but well worth it ~ Marvelous photography and great sky shot at the end ~ Thanks for the wonderful photo tour ~ ^_^

    (A ShutterBug Explores)

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  2. With my balance problems, I could never make this hike, so thank you for doing it for me and bringing your camera. Absolutely amazing!

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  3. Your photos do such a marvelous job of capturing the beauty of this place!

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  4. You've found another great place here - wonderful shots.

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  5. A seriously fine post! The pictures are superb!

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  6. just skimming...exhausted from cleaning up Irma's mess...wish I could have been THERE with you

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  7. Wonderful rocky scenery and I love those clouds in that last shot.

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  8. What a wonderful outlook. Just the thing to help us forget the troubles of our times.
    (Glad you explained about the distortion caused by the fisheye lens. Otherwise, looking at your shadow, I'd have thought you a very stooped old man indeed!)

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  9. Spectacular sky shot! The desert is a beautiful place from the photos of your hike.

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  10. Now that was a great hike for some awesome views, well worth it. One thing I would have done a photosphere on the top and uploaded it to GE. Love the photos really makes me envious of where you go and what you get to see

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  11. Amazing place , Thanks for sharing.
    Awesome clicks.

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  12. As always, very interesting and beautiful.

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  13. Hello, what a great find and hike. The views are fabulous. Love the pretty sky and all the different rock formations. The egg rock is neat. Great shadow shot and wonderful group photo. Great series, thanks for taking me along. Happy Friday, enjoy your day and weekend!

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  14. Wow, I enjoyed every step of the trail with you. Thanks for taking us to the TOP and to Crown Prince Lookout. Great idea to have a paper and pencil for travelers to write on. Have a wonderful day. Jo

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  15. I would never be able to make that hike so I'm glad you did and shared your photos! They are beautiful.

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  16. I would really love to come here in the winter time. I might not be able to hike as much as you do, but I'll try. And I'll keep all these posts as guides.

    Worth a Thousand Words

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  17. What an adventure. Awesome that someone else left a note and you did too. Glad you finished the trail. Going back was twice as hard I betcha.

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  18. Wonderful hike and a bit of mystery to go with it. Glad you found the slab and that group photo at the end was fabulous along with the clouds. Thanks so much for taking us along, its always a pleasure to visit the desert.

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  19. That climb sounds much too rugged for me, but you certainly got tremendous pictures frump there.

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  20. I am so jealous of the adventures you have and the mysteries you encounter. I am wondering if there was something like what the US Forest Service used for lookout towers on top of ridges and canyons. Talk about a lot of work getting stuff on top of those rocks and then building something.

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  21. I thought that the container you found might be a geocache but as I was searching I was remembering that the NPS doesn't allow them and Geocaching dot com won't let you even try.

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    1. Interesting... wasn't aware that the NPS doesn't allow geocaches. The little container with the sign in document was pretty cool. Made you feel like you had reached Mt. Everest or something! Thanks for the info., Alan!

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  22. ok I have to ask why would anyone have anchors out in the desert?

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  23. Fantastic hike and one I'd love to take for those views!

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  24. not sure I would clime that, to go up is much easier then to go down. Nice family you have :)

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  25. Great shots of rocky formations in national park.

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  26. Marvelous photos of these wonderful landscape and amazing rocks. Fabulous !
    Best, Synnöve

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  28. Beautiful photos, and a great post Pete. I've never been to this spot personally. I have the old Furbush book, and you are right about her giving no background info. I'll send you some...

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  29. Looks like a really hot day. But was it really a dinosaur egg or just a very large round rock?

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  30. I can see why it was used for a lookout. what fantastic view and yes the block makes a great tripod stand.

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  31. As usual, these are terrific shots, and the story is fun to read. It makes me even more anxious to get out to Joshua Tree during our next break from the Texas exile. Since you're so fond of this kind of terrain, and in case you've never been there, you might want to see the Alabama Hills outside of my old stomping grounds in Lone Pine, off 395. Also, thanks for the tips about Prisma. I had downloaded it some time ago but never got around to checking it out.

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  32. Stunning views. Wonderful captures.

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  33. Wow! What an amazing hike. The views are beyond wonderful, but I think it would also be nice to have a concrete ;>) goal to mark the top of the trek! Do you think you'll ever find out what was actually there? It's a little spooky to think about.

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  34. Dearest Peter,
    That sure was a strategic lookout for use during WWII!
    You captured fabulous photos and yes, for placing your tripod on, it still functions well.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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