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Telescope Peak Trail

HARD 148 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.

Distance: 12.0 miles Elevation Gain: 3,323 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

snow

no dogs

Telescope Peak (11,049 ft / 3,368m) is the highest peak in Death Valley, with a well-established route to the summit from Mahogany Flat campground. There are views along most of the trail, and impressive and ancient bristlecone pines on the upper slopes. From the peak there are 360-degree views from Badland over 11,000 feet below to the distant High Sierras. 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. If you have a high-clearance vehicle continue to Mahogany Flats Campground and the trailhead.

hiking
icy
snow
21 hours ago

We went 12/8/19 the trail is packed with snow all the way to Charcoal Kiln. Snow shoes would have been useful for the two miles we had to hike through to get to the trail head. We were glad we had crampons and waterproof boots since we kept sinking into 1-2ft of snow. Amazing views of the valley.

hiking
18 days ago

Snowy trail. Pen at trail log at trail head out of ink! Started at the charcoal kilns due to snowy roads added approx 3.2 miles round trip.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing trail. My first hike in Death Valley. Started around noon with a friend and kept quite a good pace, getting to the top in just under 3 hours. Peak had amazing views, although we had some clouds. We were the only ones at the top, so cooked lunch in all peace. Got back down in just over 2 hours, so overall hiking time was 5 hours and the full hike about 6 hours. Getting to the trailhead by a car was a bit bumpy, so reserve enough time and patience for the last 3 miles.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail! Not too busy we enjoyed the gorgeous views at the top and along the way. Started off about 9 am 36 degrees and finished around 4 eating lunch at the top. Not too cold perfect weather conditions. Trail is beautiful we even saw 2 deer!! Super rad I would highly recommend it was definitely more that 12 miles tho. It’s exactly 7 from the beginning of the trail head so 14 miles round trip. Really enjoyed the meadow on the way up.

hiking
2 months ago

From the trailhead (register book - please sign in and out) to the summit took me 4 hrs at a leisurely, but steady pace including breaks. The first five miles of the seven mile hike follows several ridge lines (no exposure), rolling hills and plateaus with the last two miles being a steady diet of steep and unrelenting switchbacks with a final push to the summit that's fairly easy compared to the switchbacks you just came off from. The views along the trail and from the summit are well worth your effort. Summit to trailhead - 2.25 hours . There's no water source anywhere on the trail, so pack accordingly. The demand on your feet will be great over the course of the 14 mile out and back trek - treat your feet well with comfortable but functional hiking footwear including socks. Your feet will thank you for it. Although this wasn't the hardest hike I've ever done as it relates to terrain and elevation gain, it was one of my longest out and back hikes that required endurance and stamina to complete successfully. Enjoy your hike and the views.

hiking
2 months ago

We started at the bottom of wildrose trail, because we had no 4x4. 9 hours out and back, 1500 meters to climb and probably around 30 km. Better to start at Mahogany flat if possible. Really difficult hike, but wonderful! Trail is really narrow: you better watch your steps, especially on the way back when you are tired. It was mid-September : 2 liters of water per person, between 15 and 25°C in the air, and plenty of sunscreen.

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

Totally worth it! We camped at the trailhead, Mahogany Flat, left the next morning at sun up. 4½ hours up, 2½ hours down, BEAUTIFUL views all the way, not just at the top. We brought 3 liters of water each and used it all. We were the first ones up at the peak and only passed 15 or so folks on the way down. Not bad for a September Saturday in a Nat'l park.

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike and incredible views. Got on the trail by 9am and back to car by 5pm. The trail is actually 14 miles round trip. Measured it on my iwatch. Worth a day to do the trek.

hiking
2 months ago

Easy to overlook...considering Yosemite and Sequoia are right next door. But do not miss this one, the views are Killer!!

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Extremely hard . Did it a week ago and consider quiting many time. I pushed through and made it, with the help of wife from 3000 miles away . Hardest part was coming down. You can't walk as fast and your legs are take a beating. Temps were comfortable, low 70's at best.

hiking
no shade
4 months ago

July 20, 2019 BEAUTIFUL hike. narrow trail carved out of the side of the mountain. Full exposure the whole time with some small shade opportunities. last 2 miles are the hardest with swithbacks leading to the peak. We packed 3liters of water each. One of us ran out of water 2 miles out from the end, so pack extra or conserve your water. There were about 24ppl on the trail today, so great for solitude and taking in the beauty of nature.

hiking
no shade
rocky
5 months ago

hiking
no shade
5 months ago

Probably one of my favorite hikes. Extremely doable. The entire hike is super easy until the last two miles which are all switchbacks to the top. Definitely need a high clearance vehicle to get to the trail. When I did it I was the only person on the trail which was incredible.

hiking
5 months ago

Nice hike, but make sure to start early since it heats up in the afternoon and the trail offers little protection from the sun.

hiking
rocky
snow
5 months ago

hiking
rocky
snow
5 months ago

Fun and semi-easy hike with decent distance. The hardest part is the last 2 miles of road getting to the trail head. In fact all of Death Valley's dirt roads are incredibly washboard or rocky, gouged and rutted, definitely the worst part of the park unless you can't stand the heat. Significant incline in a series of switchbacks and a false-summit are a good challenge before the top too. Just long enough to put a little toast on my calves the next day. There were still some snow patches on the top half (June) and they presented some enjoyable traverses. I just used micro-spikes and trekking poles and was fine. No cramp-ons or ice axe. Maybe one slide where I was a little out of control getting down to the trail after I lost it on a long snow patch. Unfortunate there is a radio station along the way that shares a nearby, neighboring peak that detracts from the beauty of the highest peak in Death Valley. 4 stars. Wouldn't repeat.

8 months ago

Did this trail during spring time a few years ago and boy, it was a beautiful hike but it was hard. it's worth every sweat though!!

9 months ago

I was unlucky with when I chose to do this hike. I attempted to summit Telescope Peak from Shorty's Well a few years ago and came pack on a short trip, thinking it was a good mountain hike that could be done in the winter. I arrived on Feb. 10, 2019 and the forecast for Telescope Peak was near zero (°F) temps and 60mph winds, so I hiked Wildrose Peak instead. The next day was gorgeous, so I started on the trail early in the morning after camping in the back of my rental vehicle the night before. I was equipped with warm winter gear, gaiters, crampons, snowshoes, poles, and an ice axe. Still, I ran into an issue not too far down the trail that I judged to be too much of an obstacle. Much of the trail is cut into the side of a steep part of the ridge. Due to the snow and the wind from the day before, parts were awfully deep with powder. At one point while using my poles, the entire pole down to my hands sunk into the snow. That would've been a good time to switch from crampons to snowshoes - however, sidehilling on such a steep ridge with lose powder for many miles was not appealing. I was also hiking alone. I turned back and decided to keep this hike on my to-do list for later. Sometimes it's good to leave a reason to return to place you like.

hiking
11 months ago

Hiked mid October 2018 - Beautiful hike with stunning views from the top. Moderate elevation gain till the last mile where the trail switchbacks to the top. Worth every step! Group of 6 of us went up. Didn’t see another person during the whole 6 hour hike. The road was really rough getting to the trail head. Would recommend a high clearance vehicle.

hiking
11 months ago

I hiked telescope peak on 12/28 and as the previous reviewer stated, trail was quite icy (not enough snow to kick steps). I managed to bare boot the hike almost to the top with careful footwork but wore crampons for like 2 miles on the descent. Microspikes would be a better option than crampons - if you want your crampons to stay in good shape - because you go through sections of ice mixed with rock. Ice axe was a little useless due to the lack of snow to self-belay with, but trekking poles were helpful for extra balance. I bagged Bennett and Roger on the way back, which is fun - you get cool vistas of the mountain you just climbed!

11 months ago

So, I attempted this on Dec 26th 2018 without snow gear. It was a dumb idea! Trail was iced completely over in places and, being on a bluff, it became treacherous very quickly. Bring the right gear!

Tue Dec 11 2018

Hike it on October 18th 2018. Beautiful trail enjoyed it thoroughly!

hiking
Sat Dec 01 2018

Hiked this trail on 11/22/18, started from Mahogany Campground. We drove up with a 4x4 but also saw non-4x4 climb up (including a Tesla model 3!) the dirt road. We started the hike at 11:30a, completed at 5:40p, so 6 hours trekking up. Bring layers, enough water and enjoy the views!

hiking
Tue Nov 20 2018

Should be a "5 star" walk, but very poor visibility due to fires in California. Trail approx 13 miles, not 14 miiles as sign-posted. Road was very rough from about 2 miles before Charcoal Kilns due to recent storms - would challenging without an SUV/AWD. https://hikingtheworld.blog/2018/11/10/telescope-peak-death-valley/

Mon Nov 12 2018

Pristine conditions, but this trail is 14 miles, not 12.

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