Explore the most popular historic site trails in Death Valley National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Never made it to trailhead. You need a high clearance vehicle. We drove a Subaru with all wheel drive, but we kept scraping bottom on sand and rocks. Not worth it unless you have a high clearance 4x4. Also expect the dirt road drive to take longer than planned. It is slow going. Good luck to others trying to get there!

off road driving
6 months ago

Went solo and only took this trail from Ridgecrest to the Pinnacles, where I jumped off to head to the Nadeau Trail. I've got a 2nd Gen Tacoma DCSB TRD Off-Road with high clearance bumpers, Icon suspension at 3", 32" BFGs and the rocker killing running boards still installed. Clearance was never an issue, never used the locker and only really used the low range for comfort up climbs, though some of the climbs may be a little hairy in 2wd. Could do this first stretch pretty easily in a stock truck if are smart about your line in a couple places, but the two canyons get pretty tight and my truck was a little too long in places to easily get on the right line. Feels just right for the wheel base and track of a stock two-door wrangler, so wouldn't venture into the canyons with a full-sized unless I had decent clearance and rock sliders. Like most desert trails your clear-coat won't come out unscathed. Looks like a great trail for a bike with lots of smaller trails. One of the best stretches I took on this Death Valley trip. Tons of camping at the OHV area where the trail meets Trona Rd.

This trail is very boring the first 8.7 miles. You will have to return via the same boring path. Hence, there is about 17.4 miles of boredom at the start and at the end. It is a 4x4 road which takes you into the canyon and these 8.7 miles climb slowly to about 3K feet. This is where the road ends. You will see a sign marking the route as closed to vehicular traffic beyond this point. The trail then continues into the canyon and you will be nicely surprised to hear the sounds of a spring. It is the Hanupah spring. I am not sure if its seasonal but it had quite a bit of water flow when I hiked. If you have trouble finding the "use trail", know that it skirts to the left of the canyon (almost hugging the base of the hill to the left. Obviously, it is to the left of the stream. If you keep at it this will lead up a slope to Shorty's mine. Do not continue up this route though. The hill which needs to be climbed and get to the ridge is on the other side of the canyon, to the right. The vegetation is quite thick at this point. There are some cairns marking the path up the initial part of the hill. Either you backtrack a bit and cross the stream and stay on the right side of the stream and hug the hill to its right till you see the cairns and gain the ridge, or you can just bush whack across from Shorty's mine.
Gaining this ridge is a bit of scree and talus climb and can be tiresome and there is quite a bit of elevation gained here. Once you get to the ridge, its quite straight forward. Just walk the ridge all the way. I did this at night on a new moon, and had no problems. There is a use trail which will walk you through the whole way. Even if it doesn't just stay on the ridge. Its quite simple, scan left and right. If you are on the tallest point of the scan, you are on the ridge, and you are good to go.
At around 7.4K feet you will hit the last mountain you have to traverse. It has a significant elevation gain and can get quite tiring, with the elevation effects kicking in as well. You will then hit the Telescope peak trail. From there follow this trail to the left and in 1.5 miles or so you will reach the peak.
I have seen reports of people parking one car in Mahagony Flats (The Telescope Peak Trail starts from there), and hence on the return, follow the trail all the way to the trail head in Mahagony Flats and call it a day. I had no such luxury. I trudged all the way back to Shorty's well trail head, having to trudge the 8.7 miles of boring road at the end.
For day hikes, you do not need to get any permits.
If you are coming from the Bay Area, you will cross a town called "Searles". It is about 120 miles before the trail head. There are two gas stations here - a Shell and a Kwik. The gas price was similar to what it is in the Bay Area. These are not open 24 hours, but a good place to fill up. There is also a gas station in the town called "Furnace", which is about 20 miles before the trail head. The gas here is 50c pricier per gallon than in "Searles". This is also not open 24 hours. Hence, plan accordingly.

off road driving
10 months ago

Fun trail, took a stock DCSB 2016 Tacoma TRD off-road on it and took the truck to its limits. Plenty of high incline crawling, speedy washouts, and very deep mud in the lakebed. Took hits in the under body armor, and went quick enough in the washouts to bottom out the shocks. You can do the trail finding easier ways to get around though. All around fun trail, easy in a modified rig, much more technical in a stock rig like the one I used.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Paved road with lots of side roads and trails. Very interesting

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Excellent day hike. The total length can be shortened considerably if you continue driving along the road. 4WD is advised, but not required. Having never been here, I chose to park at the end of the 2WD road, which lengthened the overall trip to 13 miles. Still worth it. The hike itself is awesome and the petroglyphs are really cool. Keep a sharp eye out. They are hard to spot. I walked right by them the first time because someone had told me "you can't miss 'em."

5 months ago