The Grandstand via Racetrack Trail is a 1.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Independence, California that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from November until March.
off road driving
If you start across the Racetrack from the lot near the Grandstand, it's a surprisingly long walk across and back. On the way out from the Grandstand I passed what was left of a stream (moist earth and tumbleweed-type plants rooted) but on the way back didn't see it whatsoever! The rocks you want to see once you've checked out the Grandstand are way to the south end of the Playa, and more to the southeast end of it. If you go toward the south lot, you'll notice a lot of tracks with either no rock or the wrong rock trailing from it, sometimes a rock on each end of the trail smh. But heading east you'll find the less-disturbed rocks and their rightful tracks. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE OR TAKE ROCKS.
And DEFINITELY drive out in a car suitable for offroading. Its a bumpy 27 mile drive the whole way!
I wouldn't exactly call this a trail, it's more of a "get out and wander around aimlessly." The "Trail" starts out at a turnout on Racetrack road, and you simply head out onto the dry playa to explore at your leisure. Starting from the pullout at the northern end of Racetrack Playa, you get to explore The Grandstand, a dark rock outcrop that stands out in stark contrast to the nearly white, dead flat playa. You'll also see many "moving rocks" scattered about, mostly near the Grandstand and between it and the trailhead. Based on my own examination of perhaps fifty of these, many of them were apparently placed here by thoughtless idiots for the purpose of an "I was here" photo, as I could find no evidence of any of them having moved under the influence of natural forces. To see the real thing, head back to your car.
Drive to the pullout at the southern end of the playa, park, and walk east. You'll see authentic moving rocks (note the long trails in the mud), and you may even be able to see the curvature of the earth in the extraordinarily flat lakebed. Recent scientific studies finally caught some of these rocks in the act of moving, showing that it happens when there is a thin layer of water on the playa, and perhaps a sheet of floating ice. The ice makes a large surface for the wind to work on, and it drags any imbedded rocks along with it wherever it goes. Another theory says that rocks may move across wet mud under very high winds, which have been recorded as high as 70 miles per hour near the playa's surface.