The 3 mile (4.8 km) hike up Ryan Mountain's desert landscape is a grueling ascent. The dry desert heat pounds down upon you as you reach for your water bottle, hoping the end of the trail will soon be in sight. The summit of the mountain is at 5,461 feet (1,664m). Although this may not seem so high in comparison to other mountains, the difficulty in the hike lies in the steep climb up, near-vertical at times. From the top there are magnificent views of the vast desert landscape. With clear air, you can see as far as the horizon.
The Ryan Mountain trail is a 3 miles roundtrip leading to probably the best views in the park. The trail begins at Ryan Mountain parking area and climbs steadily. With a 1000-foot elevation gain over only 1.5 miles it will make you sweat a bit but it's over so quickly that you won't get tired. On the other hand, now that I think about it, when we climbed it the weather was cold, a bit rainy even. If you are doing this hike in the summer than that's another story. I guess I would rate it as a moderate hike. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. Along the way, except for the valley floor view, you'll be hiking among boulders and small Joshua trees. At the top you'll get an outstanding 360 degrees view from this 5,470-foot peak. You can see Queen Valley, Wonderland of Rocks, Lost Horse Valley, Pleasant Valley and some far-off mountains.
The 3 mile round trip hike up Ryan Mountain is a real kicker, especially for someone who lives in New York City. It is not that it's a steep, difficult climb, it just lasts longer than you think it will. You climb up a bit thinking you are near the top, coming around a turn, only to realize that there is so much more left to go. But when you finally reach the summit the view that you have makes you forget about all the sweat and sore feet.