Distance: 1 mile/1.6km round trip
Time: 1 hour round trip
Elevation: The area is about 2,281 feet/695 meters above sea level. The trail gains less than 30 feet/9 meters elevation.
Best Time to Visit: Fall, Winter, Spring (Summer temperatures can be extreme, up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit/46 degrees Celsius)
The new Pakoon Springs Trail is a 1 mile round trip stroll from the trailhead just off County Road 111. It is located in the Grand Wash between the Grand Wash Cliffs and the Virgin Mountains. A vault toilet was installed in 2020.
The trail to the springs is impassible after rain due to deep clay mud.
The trail starts surrounded by typical Mohave Desert plants, then crosses a clay floodplain. It then gently ascends the spring mound itself, made of evaporated minerals from tens of thousands of years of evaporation. The mound is a whitish color and composed primarily of calcium carbonate (limestone), gypsum, and other trace minerals. The trail loops around the spring mound. Look for water emerging from multiple spots. This is a great place to observe bird species. Nonnative burros, which were brought to the area by miners 150 years ago, may also be seen, or sometimes just heard, in the area.
The largest spring pool, about 10 feet across and 3-4 feet deep, is on the south side of the mound. Look for a large willow tree at the edge of the pool which can be mostly hidden by cattails and other plants. Linger for a few minutes to watch as bubbles percolate up through the water. These are gases from deep in Earth's crust, including a small amount of helium from decaying uranium in the mantle. Small mosquitofish also inhabit the pool. These are not native, they are an introduced species and will be removed soon as they eat native species. Just down from the pool is the new bat run built to help native bat species drink or catch insects attracted to the water.
The water of Pakoon Springs comes from high in the Virgin and Black Rock Mountains. It percolates to this spot where a fault forces the water to the surface. These waters have been important to people for thousands of years. Pakoon Springs is the most productive spring in the monument. The other spring is Tassi further down the Grand Wash where the historic Tassi Ranch ruin is located on the NPS1213 road.
In summer it is not recommended to travel to this area due to extreme heat and lack of cell phone service. In addition, the vegetation may overgrow the trail. The best time to explore this trail is the month of April when temperatures are moderately warm and flowers are blooming. The fall is also a great time to visit although by then some of the green vegetation will begin dying back.
Last updated: May 18, 2021