Telescope Peak Trail is a 12.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Death Valley, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
Directions from Stovepipe Wells: Follow Highway 190 westward to Emigrant Canyon Road. Turn left on to Emigrant Canyon Road and follow it up the canyon to the Charcoal Kilns. If you don't have a high-clearance vehicle park at the kilns. I you have a high-clearance vehicle continue to Mahogany Flats Campground and the trailhead.
Was a little difficult for me, but a fun hike. Went in March when there was still a foot of snow and climbed with eight awesome dudes. Recommend, but advise you go prepared for the weather.
This is a hard, but great trail. It is 6.5 miles one-way (13 miles round-trip) from the trailhead, even though the sign says 7 miles. The first 2.25 miles are pretty much straight up, and you will do about 1600 feet of elevation gain (an average of over 12% grade). The next 2.25 miles are easy, mild ups and downs along a ridge. The final 2 miles consists of 14 switch-backs that will take you to the top. The views along the entire trail are fantastic. From the top you can see Badwater Basin (lowest point in the western hemisphere, -282 feet) and Mount Whitney (highest point in the 48 states, 14,505 feet), a 2.8-mile elevation differential. Depending on the weather, it might be hazy, but in my estimation, it's worth the hike any day. I did the trail in the middle of June and took 3 liters of water with me; I wish I would have taken more. I camped at Mahogany Flat Campground, by the trailhead. The evening was incredibly windy, but it calmed down at night and the next day was beautiful for the hike. I suggest doing this at least once in your life!
We kept an eye out for the weather forecast. Last year we drove up to Mahogany flats campground in April and it was cold and there was snow on Rogers peak. We decided to come back this year and actually hike to Telescope peak. We drove up the dirt road in the morning after packing hastily from Wildrose campground. Picked a camp site (which on the 25th was no problem) and prepared for the hike. The first 5 miles were easy compared to the last 1.5-2 miles. The last miles were many switchbacks but this is all forgotten when you finally reach the peak. The weather was perfect for us with a little overcast in the morning. The peak seemed in the clouds while we were hiking up. By the time we reached the peak we had 360 views. We had a good view at bad water, furnace creek on one side and Panamint springs on the other side. There was only one area with snow left along the trail. This was on our bucket list of peaks. Well worth the sweat!
The views are spectacular. One can see Mt. Whitney on one side of the peak, and Badwater on the other side (highest and lowest points in lower 48). We were too late for wildflowers in early May, but a beautiful hike, none-the-less!
There were no water sources other than some remaining snowfall in a few places. The last mile or two is the hardest. The trail is well maintained, but a little loose and rough during the first couple of miles. Since much of the hike lies along a ridge line, and can therefore result in feeling much colder than other places, and a hat strap is highly recommended.
Those interested in on-the-trail status updates (FB, etc.) will find only a couple areas with coverage, and not necessarily on the peak like one might expect.
We camped at Mahogany Flats CG. Campsites are nice, fire rings, picnic tables, pit toilet, and water are provided.
The service road at the trailhead leads to Rodgers peak and although it gain more elevation it is a bit easier. Just hope there isn't much wind cause the dusty desert takes away from the view.
Great hike. You can see the Sierras and Badwater, so the highest and lowest points in the United States!
Haven't hiked trail, but been up in that area. While trail info says accessible year round is "true." Winter expect heavy snow/ice. Without 4x4 expect to hike to trailhead & NPS recommends ice hiking/climbing gear.
See my review posted below and on summit post.org
NOT for the faint of heart. The views from the top are 360 and simply astounding. First few miles are brutal; a bit of a respite for a few miles, and then horrible, leg numbing switchbacks. It took me about 5 1/2 hours to complete. Can be done in a day, easily. I went in late May and it was very hot towards the bottom but cooled off considerably near the top. My first 11,000+ peak and it made me jones for more!
What a great hike. I got to do this one with a large group as part of a Moonlight Hike. There was a full moon for the climb. We timed the hike to reach the peak just before dawn so we could watch the sunrise over Death Valley. Breathtaking! We met up with some drunk Italians and had a great time.