Blending Man and Nature on the Cap Rock Trail
Joshua Tree Trail Crew, NPS
Harry Carpenter, Chief of Maintenance
The Cap Rock Nature Trail Rehabilitation Project was accomplished through a partnership involving young adults of the California Conservation Corps and local youths in the Youth Conservation Corps under the direction of Joshua Tree National Park’s Trail Crew. The project involved removing the thirty-year-old degraded, petroleum-based asphalt surface and the treated lumber border and constructing a new hard-surfaced trail to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, and placing 22 interpretive signs at appropriate pull-offs along the trail.
A biobased product (made from cactus extract) was used as a hardener to create a new surface when mixed with Joshua Tree NP’s distinctive beige native soil, creating a trail that blends well with the Park’s sandstone geology. The old asphalt was recycled into a crushed road base used to cap the existing trailhead parking lot. The new plastic lumber trail curbing, manufactured from post-consumer recycled milk jugs and plastic grocery bags, will not decay like wood and require routine replacement. The trail crew taught the youth workers how to use “minimal tools” in order to protect the fragile desert environment.