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Hiking: Death Valley

On Wildrose, Views From Top to Bottom

April 20, 1997|JOHN McKINNEY

Death Valley and Panamint Valley views are awesome from the summit of Wildrose Peak. The 9,064-foot peak in the middle of the Panamint Mountains beckons the hiker with a well-maintained trail and glorious views coming and going.

In summer, when temperatures climb to more than 110 degrees on the floor of Death Valley, Wildrose Peak remains a pleasant place to walk. The peak and upper parts of the trail are snowbound in winter.

The trail head alone is worth the trip. Here you'll find 10 charcoal kilns, built in the 1870s to make charcoal from the trees growing in Wildrose Canyon.

Directions to trail head: From California 178 about 50 miles from California 395, turn right at the signed paved road for Wildrose and proceed 9 1/2 miles northwest to a junction with Mahogany Flat Road. Turn right, soon passing Wildrose Campground, and travel six miles (the last two miles on an unpaved road) to a wide turnout for the charcoal kilns and parking for Wildrose Peak-bound hikers.

If you're traveling from the main part of Death Valley, travel nine miles from Stovepipe Wells south on California 190 to Wildrose Road. Turn left and drive south 21 miles to Mahogany Flat Road.

The hike: Join the signed trail northwest of the charcoal kilns and begin your ascent above Wildrose Canyon. About two miles out, the path reaches a saddle at the crest of the Panamints. Following the crest, the trail serves up great vistas of Death Valley shimmering in the heat 8,000 feet below, as well as over-the-shoulder views of Telescope Peak.

Vigorous switchbacks lead past wind-bent pinyon pine to the small, flat summit. The fantastic view takes in most of 90-mile-long Death Valley with the Amargosa Range beyond and Furnace Creek appearing as a green island on the vast salt flats. To the west are the saw-tooth summits of the Sierra Nevada.


Wildrose Peak Trail

WHERE: Death Valley national Park.

DISTANCE: 8.4 miles round trip with 2,300-foot elevation

TERRAIN: Pinyon pine and juniper woodland on crest of Panamints.

HIGHLIGHTS: Awesome panoramas.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Fairly strenuous.

PRECAUTIONS: Snow covers summit and trail Nov.-- May.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, CA, 92338; tel. (619) 786-2331

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