A lowest to highest map through Darwin Falls and Cerro Gordo (both highly recommended), including precious tips and beta from a past thru-hiker and local.
Flood risk alt (This clear game trail leads to high ground and eventually back to the L2H, in case of heavy rains.)
Hanuapah Spring Detour
Pleasant Point Alt (Maintains elevation, avoids huge drop/climb, and passes some old mine ruins.)
Cerro Gordo bypass
Lowest to Highest
Private Land (ABSOLUTELY NO CAMPING unless with permission from Robert, the caretaker of Cerro Gordo. He will shoot. Highly suggested: call Robert, and give him and ETA of your passing through. He is a very pleasant man, struggling to preserve the ghost town by himself. Donate some money to his cause (suggested $10-20 per person) and he will be likely to share his water - and perhaps a tour of the INCREDIBLE hotel - with you. Please keep it friendly with him so future hikers can also enjoy his hospitality. If he says no, back down. If you do not call first, it is recommended you STAY ON THE ROAD and just walk through. No snooping. Absolutely do not explore the mine shafts!! Cerro Gordo information, including Robert's telephone number, is available through the Lone Pine Interagency Center (760) 876-6222)
BLM (BLM extending north along Panamint Springs road to its west. Handy if you don't have DVNP permits.)
Private (State) Land (No Camping!)
BLM (Small pocket of BLM extends to west of Saline Valley Road here only. Otherwise BLM is to west of road only.)
No Camping
Telescope Peak detour (Worthwhile especially if visibility is good.)
Muir, 14,005 (Shame John Muir only had this just-barely 14er named for him and not something more grand. But if you want to bag an easy 14er on your way up or down from Whitney, watch for use trail (obvious erosion) at the base and follow up to the southeast side of the summit block, where a few big 3-4 class moves will bring you to the vertiginous top. There is a summit register. Be very careful coming down.)
BLM to the west
Flowing Water (36.21318, -117.1073 Tuber Spring is pretty reliable, especially In anything near an average snow year. You will be wasting your time trying to get beta on this spring from the Nat'l park headquarters. Best try asking at Panamint. To find it, watch for GREEN foliage, use trails leading down to it, and LISTEN for trickling water. You will see evidence of many people come before you. This should be flowing well enough to catch in a pot. Lower springs in the canyon you may need a MSR Hyperflow-type filter to catch ground water with. If you are concerned, place a cache in Panamint valley on Panamint Springs or Wildrose Road.)
LNT (Walk gently on this fragile surface. Out of courtesy for others behind you also wishing to see this valley as unmolested as possible, do not walk on the playa if it is muddy. Footprints once dry can last decades. Use the roads.)
Suggested cache location (Otherwise, it can be a long, dry, and exposed day from Tuber to Panamint Springs Resort! Please hide caches as well as possible, and carry empties to Panamint Springs Resort.)
Alternate suggested cache (Anywhere along these roads is fairly easy to access by paved Panamint Springs Road. Also, it is BLM, so if this will be your second (or even third) night, you can get a shorter DVNP permit. This side road is washboard and unpaved and it is up to you how far you wish to drive down it. Please hide caches as well as possible, and carry empties to Panamint Springs Resort.)
Use Trail (Believe it or not, there is a use trail below tree line on BOTH sides of Telescope Peak. If you want to test your backcountry hiking skills, keep your eyes peeled and try to stick to it!)
Use trail (Believe it or not, there is a use trail below tree line on BOTH sides of Telescope Peak. If you want to test your backcountry hiking skills, keep your eyes peeled and try to stick to it!)
Telescope Ridge (Well-used trail. Don't be surprised to see many other folks on this trail, summiting Telescope from campgrounds to the north. This could be a resource if you are in trouble.)
History (If you're curious, the NPS has collected a fairly detailed history of recent activity in Hanuapah Canyon. https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/deva/section3a15.htm "Hiking Death Valley" by Michel Digonnet is a great resource as well.)
Leave No Trace (LNT) (Badwater has a boardwalk that extends out about 1000 yards; the L2H continues past then into very unique, foreign, and precious terrain. Per the National Park System, "When the playa is wet, avoid walking in muddy areas and leaving ugly footprints. This prevents others from enjoying this unique area." YOU ARE NOT AN EXCEPTION. Avoid also breaking salt cups and especially avoid falling or cutting your shoes or shins with them - they are exceedingly sharp!)
Possible cache location (You could place a cache here, but be aware this is a very long and tedious drive down an extremely bumpy road. Suggested: carry enough water from Badwater to get you to Hanuapah.)
CYOA (Backcountry hiking using GPS: in areas like this where you do not see a trail, *use your wits* to make your way in the necessary general direction. You do not need to follow the GPS track exactly, especially when it seems to make no sense! Use trail picks up below tree line on the south side of Tuber Canyon. When looking for water, LOOK for GREEN foliage! LISTEN for trickles!)
Keep in mind (Telescope Peak ridge can be extremely windy, cold, and visibility is sometimes low. There is a register at the summit. Once at top, you've achieved one of the largest elevation gains that can be obtained up a single summit!)
Keep an eye out (Occasionally on the way down Tuber (and Long John as well), the route will leave the wash and stay higher on the canyon walls. Keep your eyes peeled for the trail leading all the way down, and for the Desert Trumpet and (if you're lucky) burros you'll see! Imagine how well into the 1940s, silver, gold, and lead mines were very active here. The problem was always getting the ores exported from this remote area, and not dying of the heat! (More info here https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/deva/section3a1.htm) )
Panamint Resort (Several employees are aware of the L2H route, namely the manager and his assistant Sarah; however in 2016 they were not willing to hold caches. There are bathrooms, and a spigot out front at the north end of the restaurant under a tall palm tree. They serve a breakfast buffet (7-11), lunch, and dinner, and rent rooms and campsites. More here: http://www.panamintsprings.com/ 1(775)482-7680)
FYI (There is trail leading all the way to the falls, and it is well-frequented.)
Warning! (Telescope from Shorty's Well (or Badwater for that matter) is an EXTREMELY difficult hike. Carry plenty of water, electrolytes, snacks, and keep cool under long sleeves and a large-billed hat, or even better, an umbrella. Heat stroke is highly possible. Have a backup plan.)
Visitor Center (You need permits if you are traveling overnight in Death Valley National park or camping overnight in the Inyos. Whitney Zone permits are available at the Interagency Center just south of Lone Pine.)
Westside (If you are thinking of driving this road to place a cache, think twice! Unless you have a car with great tires and suspension, this unpaved road could be murder.)
Darwin Falls (Reliable water year 'round)
The Car (Old Mine Site)
Wildlife (Keep an eye out for sheep and burro near this water source!)
Peace Sign (Carved into ground; visible from satellite.)
Entering BLM (to west)
Possible cache location (Probably not necessary unless you are worried or doing shorter miles. This road has some traffic.)
Suggested cache location (Another possible cache location, closer to midpoint between China Garden and Cerro Gordo.)
No camping (No camping to the southwest of this marker.)
Mountaineer's Route (For extra badass points, turn off here, just to the east of a creek crossing. Make sure you have correct permits. Though generally patrolled less starting October, rangers are still watching for permits and bear canisters.)
Outpost Camp (When setting up permits, rangers will be familiar with this basecamp site, should you be needing to use one.)
Use trail (Alternate route up to Trail Crest via an obvious couloir in heavy snow/ice conditions. Ice axe and crampons recommended. Not at all recommended in dry conditions.)
Warming Hut (Sleeps up to 5. Must have overnight permits to sleep atop Whitney. Don't gamble on having the cabin, but it is possible. To sleep up top, you will probably need a FULL set of layers, and an emergency blanket and stove are recommended. After October 1, this is less patrolled, also meaning SAR moves much more slowly. Be aware, the rangers consider the summit season closed and expect you to be prepared for the worst.)
Whitney Summit (14,505 feet. You will have views of Telescope Peak from here, and cell signal to share your accomplishment!)
JMT intersection (You will likely meet John Muir Trail (JMT, 210 miles long) hikers finishing their trek on Whitney. Make sure to congratulate them on their accomplishment! They will likely have no idea what you are doing, so don't bother telling them unless they press for info. Bragging could dilute their big moment.)
Keeler, 14,240
Trail Camp, last water (Another popular Whitney basecamp, **last chance for water** during late season. No camping on the lake side of the trail.)
reliable water
Spigot and bathrooms (Camp host is Don (2014-2016, no plans to quit); he is a reasonable fellow.)
Bridge over LA aquaduct (The LADWP (some locals call the DWP "Dirty Water Pirates") have been stealing water from the Owens Valley since 1913. DO NOT trespass here... or even look at the aquaduct funny. They're watching.)
Post Office (Mon-Fri 9:30am - 12:30pm 1:30pm - 4:30pm (760) 876-5681)
Milkshakes, espresso... (...sandwiches, donuts, local "flavor")
Long term parking (Ask nicely at the Dow Villa Hotel and they will allow you to park your car here in this lot for free while you hike.)
Long term parking, shuttles (Ask the wonderful Kathleen New at the Chamber of Commerce nicely and she will charge you for long term parking and shuttles. (760) 876-444)
Free hiker camping, water fountain (Lone Pine requests you sleep in the baseball field dugout (watch out for sprinkler heads) if you wish to camp for free in its parks.)
Jakes Saloon (Beer on tap (no liquor), $0.50 pool, free shuffleboard and ping pong. Worth checking out!)
Alabama Hills Café (Arguably the best breakfast in town, pastries, local "flavor")
Hostel (Bunks, private rooms, $7 showers. Affiliated with the Whitney Portal restaurant. (760) 876-0030)
Chinese Buffet (11am-2pm (760) 876-4115)
reliable water (Owens river is very clean water polluted with cow dung, fertilizer, and all sorts of other things. Definitely filter.)
Unreliable water (Likely flowing if Inyos still have snow pack or after significant rain. Flow 2/16, trickle 10/16.)
Tram operators cabin (Old 4-room cedar cabin, doors open. Porch has great views of the Sierra range if you choose to just sleep there under awning.)
Salt Tram (The first load of salt carried by the Saline Valley salt tram was delivered at Tramway on July 2, 1913. By February 1914, the Saline Valley Salt Company was shipping 9 to 15 railroad carloads of processed salt per week. But it couldn?t turn a profit, so it was taken over by U.S. Steel, the company that built the tram. Between 1924 and 1926, a road to Saline Valley via San Lucas Canyon was constructed. The County of Inyo contributed $20,000 toward the cost of building the road, but the use of trucks to transport salt also proved unprofitable. In 1928, the Sierra Salt Company refurbished the tram after purchasing it from U.S. Steel, and was soon transporting salt to Tramway at a rate of 60 to 100 tons per day. The Sierra Salt Company also experienced financial difficulties and ceased operations in 1933. Although Saline Valley salt is exceptionally pure, its monetary value was never high enough to offset the cost of transporting it to market. (via virtualtransportationmuseum.com))
Badwater (Pit toilets. No trash cans, no public water, loads of tourists.)
Sea Level sign (Look up at the Valley wall for the sign!)
Game/use trail (Head up on the south wall and enjoy the easy sailing and views on the burro tracks above the wash. Their tracks are easy to find and intuitive, as are most game trails.)
-282 feet
-277 feet
Suggested cache location (Somewhere along Saline Valley road, preferably on the west side of the road (BLM). Hide them well amidst the Joshua trees, label them with your name and date, and either pack out empties or return immediately after your hike for them.)
Unreliable water (Cerro Gordo Spring has a cute old mine site, and is worth checking out, but on a good day the spring drips once per second and the water tastes heavily of iron. The unnamed spring to the north was not locatable in 2/16 after heavy rains.)
Cairns marking turn ahead! (If heading downhill, make sure to watch for route to leave wash on your left. It should be marked with two large cairns. You will need to leave the wash and stay on the ridge to avoid a large pour-off. If you haven't already noticed, Long John canyon has a use trail all the way down it. Keep your eyes peeled for the trail and cairns, especially when headed down the steep embankment towards the marked spring. There are switchbacks.)
Spigot outside pit toilets (Also, trash, recycling, and biohazard bin for wag bags)
Whitney Portal Road (The road can be walked all the way up but the way is longer, and MUCH more dangerous. The trail is enjoyable and in fact, the historic way up to Whitney (from before the road was built).)
Cliff Climb (There is some hand-over-hand climbing and places where lifting your backpack with rope (or having a helper) might help here. Follow the path of least resistance to the top, where the route becomes clearly cairned all the way back into Toll Road wash.)
China Garden Spring (This reliable pond has had numerous koi fish swimming in it... since the 1940s.)
Shelter (Shade or in case of foul weather)
Interagency Center ((ranger station) Whitney permit lotteries are held at 8am (for same day) and 11am and 2pm (for next day). Only one person from your party needs to be present to obtain a permit. Drawing a low number in the lottery is favorable, e.g. if five permits are available and you draw the number 5 or lower, you've won a permit for your party. Note: rangers will expect bear vaults to be used.)
Water fountain, bathrooms, electricity (At the Spainhower County Park near the tennis courts.)
Lone Pine
Cerro Gordo (Ghost Town. Stepping off the roads going through the town is trespassing unless you have prior permission from Robert D., the caretaker. Get his contact information from the Lone Pine Interagency Center. (760) 876-6222)
hwy190 Crossing
Campground, pit toilets (No water unless yogied from tourists/campers)
Local trail (Take it for the great views and for your safety!)