Telescope Peak Trail

HARD 58 reviews

Telescope Peak Trail is a 12 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Death Valley, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

12.0 miles
3323 feet
Out & Back



nature trips

rock climbing

trail running




wild flowers


no dogs

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.

1 hour ago

Getting there: We had a 4WD and camped at Mahogany Flats for 2 nights. IMO, you might make it as far as Thorndike CG in a 2WD. Charcoal Kilns, no problem. The road is very rough between Thorndike and Mahogany Flats. We started at 6:30 AM and made the summit in 4:15 with lots of pics and rest stops. Return 2:30. Nice views all around and the elevation made for pleasant temps.

4 days ago

Well marked

8 days ago

Great hike. Amazing views. Don’t mind the ladybugs, they won’t bite.

21 days ago

My son and I hiked this today, 5-26-18. First, you can't get to the trail head by regular car. You need to walk the road from Charcoal Kiln to get there Or take a 4x4.. This is about 1.5 miles with an elevation gain on the road of about 1200 feet...just on this road. Many have said you can't drive the road. Not true. You can safely drive at least 1/2 up and park at or near the Thorndike campground. This saves you a lot.
Trial is well marked and you should know, we are both in great shape. This is a very difficult hike. First portion, very tough. Flattens out a lot for the middle third . Then, the climb to the top starts. The switchback gain a ton of elevation in a very short order.
People have said the view at the top is to die for. However, I can't say that. This may be, though, due in large part to the fact that we have been to so many top of mountains, they are all starting to have the same "appeal". If you haven't done many hikes to peaks, this may be one worth looking into, but again, not an easy trek. It took us a total of 10 hours round trip moving at the best clip we could.

1 month ago

Did this trail on 4/24. Wow what a hike. Steep the first couple miles then it does level out then gets steep again right before the summit. Lots of snow on the peak still. We were able to do it without crampons, just made a ladder in the snow. Great views all the way and a great hike.

Follow me on Instagram for pictures of the hikes and other adventures @wildrumpfie

2 months ago

Did this trail in early April. We started the hike from the charcoal kilns and completed the entire hike in 9 hours. Overall the hike had nice scenic views. It was most of the elevation gain occurred in the beginning and end. There was more snow covering the last 1500’ of elevation and I would recommend crampons and poles for this time of year. The altitude, while not high, was challenging due to us coming from sea level so I highly recommend acclimating.

3 months ago

Reached the summit on 2.17.18. Took me 6 hours from the Kilns. That first mile on Mahogany Flat Rd was very brutal. More than half of the people seen on the trail had to turn around due to not being prepared. Crampons were a must!! Trekking poles were very handy as well. Had to leave my sleeping bag and blanket behind at the Meadows because of weight in my back pack. Setting up tent in this area was not an option, way too windy and cold! Tent set up at Thorndike, which was still pretty windy and cold at night.

4 months ago

Did it a week ago. The road from the Charcoal things is 1.7 Miles each way. There was snow at the top, I hiked 1,5 Miles total in snow 1.5 ft deep. The trail before that is covered in snow as well, like 2.5 Miles. Before that, patches of ice, you gotta be careful. Weather was like 40 morning and evening and 60 around noonish. With so much snow at the top you don’t see the switchbacks so you hike straight up, however you’ll need winter climbing gear, like axe and crampons. I am a slow hiker, it took me 6.5 hours to reach the top so I hiked down in the darkness like for 3 hours since sunset is early. Very rewarding nonetheless. The last two miles of the drive are rough, not good for sedans, just go slow and you’ll make it, however, you’ll need momentum to negotiate a few obstacles.

4 months ago

Hiked it on Saturday the 3rd. Road closure added extra miles, but still awesome for a day hike

5 months ago

Was not able to reach Thorndike Campground or Mahogany Flats Campground since our vehicle is not 4WD. Started at the Charcoal Kilns, 6900 ft, added extra 3 miles round trip to the hike, and 1300 feet of elevation as well. Bring the total distance to 17 miles round trip and 4590 feet of elevation gain. The hardest parts of the hike were going up the mountain from Charcoal Kilns to trail head and then doing the zig zags right before the summit. Aside from those two, the hike was short and quite enjoyable.

We stayed at Wildrose Campground, 4100 ft, the night prior. Our group did not experience any altitude sickness. Was able to summit before 2 pm. Shortly after 2 pm, the clouds came in and temperature dropped to low 40's F without the sun and with lots of wind. The sunlight completely went out by 530 pm.

Would recommend bringing at least 3 liters of water, snacks, sunscreen, shoes with heel protections due to 3290 feet of decline on the way back down, pants and wind breaker. Was experiencing heavy wind from the Telescope peak to Rogers peak. Felt my face and extremities going numb from cold temperature, probably high 30's F or low 40's F.

5 months ago

Didn't have access to a 4wd, so started at the charcoal kilns (6900 ft). It was about 1.5 miles continuous uphill climb to the trail head with almost no views. Would avoid hiking this part at all cost next time. The trail itself was amazing and fun. View at top was mangnificent. The last mile and half of switchbacks before the summit was tiring, but really not too punishing.
We lived in Beatty the previous night, and drove there in about 2 hours early morning. From past experiences, I knew the attitude would effect me. I tend to experience headache, drowsiness and other cold like symptoms once over 6500ft. I dressed in layers, carried ample water, food and alotted plenty of time. I took breaks often, and spent about an hour on the summit. The whole 17 miles took me about 9 hours to complete.
My trip was in early November, temperature was around 20 to 40. There was no snow. I recommend sun protection, there was very little shade. Watch your step coming back down, the trail can be sandy, dry and slippery. Would love to come back and do this again.

5 months ago

Absolutely stunning views. Plan on starting early if you want to make it back. Take it slow, everybody I saw on the trail underestimated the effects of going from below sea level to 8,000 feet above in 4 hours.

5 months ago

13 Mile Day Hike Up Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park | Telescope Peak is the tallest mountain in Death Valley National Park. It has beautiful views of Badwater Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We have created a detailed trip report for a successful summit up Telescope Peak, easily accomplished in a day. You won't regret doing this hike! It's beautiful! | Full Detailed Trip report at

6 months ago

Strenuous hike with beautiful views all the way to the top. Don't start too late, if you don't want to walk back in the dark ;) You need a high-clearance vehicle to reach the parking lot after Charcoal Killns. Definitely worth it!

7 months ago

Absolutely one of the best views I've ever had! We were glad to have a cold budweiser at the top :)
The last part of the road is a bit harsh, but we made it up there with a 30ft RV...

11 months ago

Incredibly beautiful hike with gorgeous views. Challenging, but it's nice because the hike is broken up into 3 sections. First section has 1500 ft of gain over 2 miles. Then it's relatively flat for 2 miles. The last part is the steepest but not much worse than the first section. Camping at Mahogany Flats was super easy. No reservations required. The dirt road going up is a little dicey for the last mile but we made it just fine in a 2wd SUV. We saw a few cars up there too. One thing that was pretty rough was the BUGS!! Nobody warned us on here! There were flies everywhere at the campground and they swarmed around us. It was the worst in the morning and afternoon, they died down at night. At one point we decided to hang out in our cars because they were so annoying, so bring big spray!
The weather was perfect. 75-80 at the campground and in the 60s at the summit. Bring lots of water for the hike, at least 3 liters per person. The campground doesn't have any water either so if you plan on cooking or rinsing off after the hike plan for that too. Overall this hike is awesome, highly recommend!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

First time on this incredible trail. Started early from Mahogany Flat Campground. The trail started out with a 2.2 mi incline that gets you up to the ridge. The winds along the ridge were extremely heavy in the morning, but gradually became better in the afternoon.

The last few miles were steep switchbacks up to the peak. Note that at the end of the switchbacks you hit a false summit. Just go a few more feet and you'll be on the top. Incredible views of Badwater Basin, Mt. Charleston, and the Sierras (including Mt. Whitney!).

All in all this was a rewarding trail and well worth the view from the top. If you do plan on making this a day hike I would recommend staying at Mahogany Flat and getting an early start. Be sure to bring plenty of water as the summer starts heating things up.

Monday, April 03, 2017

This trail is awesome went on April 1st did not summit needed micro spikes or crampons. There were snow covered sections with a strong melt by 1pm. Then snow was very slick.

Also the road is closed that leads to the start point at 1.8 mikes away so the total mileage is 17.4 to summit and back. The road and parking takes place at the charcoal ovens. Expect another 1000 foot elevation gain before reaching the trail start point.

Bring at least 3 liters of water.

Friday, July 24, 2015

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.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

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!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

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!

Monday, June 09, 2014

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.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Great hike. You can see the Sierras and Badwater, so the highest and lowest points in the United States!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

See my review posted below and on summit

Saturday, June 08, 2013

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!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

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.

recorded Telescope Peak Trail

28 days ago

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