Telescope Peak via Shorty's Well Route

HARD 1 reviews
#60 of 70 trails in

Telescope Peak via Shorty's Well Route is a 19.9 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Badwater, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

19.9 miles
11,692 feet
Point to Point




nature trips

rock climbing

trail running




wild flowers



off trail

no shade

historic site

9 months ago

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.