Walking / Hiking, Death Valley National Park
This is another trail not marked on any park service map. However is fairly easy to spot. There is a wood barrier stating Wilderness Restoration blocking a road. The trail actual starts on the road. Follow for one mile to a fence. There will be a hill of black rocks on the left at this point. Here you will turn slightly left into the Greenwater Canyon. At this fence, to the left are petroglyphs. Continue down the canyon for about another mile until it opens up and you walk out from the surround black rocks.
The highlight of this hike is the petroglyphs. They are at that fence line at the top of the black rocks. There is no trail so you have to scramble up and search for them. I found them fairly easily. Return the way you came.
Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
This hike was amazing to me. I have it as off the beaten path because it is not listed on any park service map. If you have the Death Valley National Geographic Map, the is a trail noted at the base of Pinon Mesa (which is not really a mesa so don't look for it) that leads to Hummingbird Spring. Since there was a noted trail and it was in a remote area near Wildrose where I was camping, I thought I would check it out.
The access road is not that easy to find but with that Nat Geo map its the first right driving from Wildrose to Mahogany Flats. You will need a high clearance vehicle to get to the trail head or you can park at the paved road and walk in. The dirt road is fairly straight and when it makes a sharp left turn you will see a green marker post designating the way to the spring. Park here and start walking up the trail. I should mention I started my hike at 6:30am. The air was crisp and still. The smell of Pinon Pine filled the air. I was so relaxed and loving every step.
At first the trail is very obvious. It follows a pretty straight line. It will eventually enter a dry wash. Try to stay in the wash. This is the best way to actually find the spring. At about .6 miles I came upon the first evidence of human presence. A source of water in Death Valley is very important and Hummingbird served people and mines through the Wildrose Valley. Many old rusted cans are strewn about. There is also a large pile of Gypsum which was mined in the area. Not too much further up there is length of pipes, no longer in tact, that would feed the valley below. At this point the canyon head wall and surrounding peaks close in. I started hearing an Osprey squawking in from the near cliffs. Then I saw it take off and circle above my head. It was fortunate to see and an experience I will not soon forget.
I could see the trail heading up a hill on the left. It was so early the trail was faint due to shadows as the sun had not cleared the cliffs. At the top are the remnants of a ring fire and obvious high camp for settlers that worked on getting the water down to the valley. At this point I did not find the spring but it was clear I was at the terminus. I enjoyed and admired the view for some time as I watched the sun rise behind me and light up the valley below.
As I started heading back down the steep grade to the wash, I found the Hummingbird Spring. It was flowing well enough but dry desert absorbed the water before it could make it to far.
The hike out was quick. Round trip the hike is about 1.9 miles. My GPS but the altitude gain at 848 feet. I highly recommend this trail. Early morning was great!
On the western side of the Panamint Range lies a series of interesting canyons. Even when the rest of Death Valley has reverted to its usual dry hues, these canyons provide refreshing bursts of water and vegetation. One of these, Surprise Canyon, is a very enjoyable dayhike. It winds up for a few miles heading stadily uphill, but never overly taxing, as it follows the creek up to the hill crest. There are some areas of scrambling involved, as well as walking in water and through brush, so be prepared. But a good resting place is when you come to a lush grotto, with small waterfalls and ferns all around, quite a surprise considering the dusty tones of the rest of the Valley. It is possible to take this trail over the hill and into Death Valley proper, should you want to continue on that way. But that is a long journey; best to turn back and enjoy the downhill trek to your car.
You can find this hike just a bit past Ballarat, a ghost town just outside the park. The trailhead itself is a bit hard to get to, and often requires high-clearance vehicles to reach. The ranger station in Furnace Creek sometimes has guided hikes up this trail, which gives the bonus feature of having a ranger on hand to explain some of the geography, geology, and botany of the area. An enjoyable hike.
This is a great hike. Drive out Wildrose Rd to the Charcoal Kilns. Park and look for the trailhead sign to the north of the Kilns. Wildrose Peak is over 9,000 ft. Plan the hike to be a good 4-6 hrs r/t. Bring plenty of water and lunch/snacks cause you'll need them for energy. Great views of the Valley at around 2mi point. Another 2+ miles to the peak. Sign the guest book at the top of the mountain.
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Never happened before.
Switchfoot, Dare you to move
To really see Death Valley, you must get off the main track and do some exploring. There is far more to this park than dry brown earth and some mountains. The hidden canyons and roadless areas offer hidden treasures that belie the true beauty of the desert and the beauty that is Death Valley. The ghost towns, inaccessible to those who are true to their rental car contracts, offer a glimpse at past attempts at life in the area. Along the main roads, you can find glimpses of the past at abandoned mining communities and in century old wagon tracks
The hike trough Golden Canyon is an easy tour, 1 mi / 1,6 km round trip. You can see Red Cathedral at it's "end".
The best time to hike here would be in the late afternoon, when the rocks begin to glow and show where this canyon got it's name :-)
Park your car at Golden Canyon parking area on Badwater Road.
It's 8 km south of Furnace Creek Visitor Center.
Death Valley offers inumerous day hikes.
We have chosen the Natural Bridge Trail, as it was quite close to the road (and we only had one day in the park).
Natural Bridge Trail is a moderate uphill hike through a narrow canyon. It's 1 mi / 1,6 km round trip, get's you along a natural bridge.
Park the car at the Natural Bridge parking area on Badwater Road (approx. 20 km south of Furnace Creek).
In the Northern part of the Death Valley National Park are the sanddunes. Most drive by and see them, but the real experience is to get out and embraze the heat. Take a walk through the landscape of dunes that continuously changes it's shape. The wavepattern shows the power of the wind that forms and recreats this area.
The Racetrack - The Racetrack is one of the most famous of several clay lake beds in Death Valley. Rocks weighing as much as several hundred pounds occasionally slide across the surface. Some rocks can be seen close to the road, however the best examples are across the lake bed near the southern end of the lake bed. If it's hot, be sure to take water with you as the hike out onto the clay lake bed is HOT. There is no concensus as to how they move. One theory is that when the clay surface is moist and slippery the wind moves the rocks. Some think that freezing to form a thin layer of ice is required. The trails left by the rocks are said to last for several years !! This is a really neat and eerie place. The Racetrack is located 2 mile further south from the Grandstand.