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Hike the Hummingbird Spring Trail

Inyo County, California



2 miles

Elevation Gain

850 ft

Route Type



Added by John Maurizi

Remote, unmarked trail to a historic spring that served the development of Death Valley.

This hike was amazing to me. This trail in not listed on any park service map. If you have the Death Valley National Geographic Map, there 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 Spring 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 water to the valley below. At this point the canyon head wall and surrounding peaks close in around you. I started hearing an Hawk squawking 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 fire ring 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!

Be sure to tell someone where you are hiking. If you drive up this access road, your vehicle would not be seen from the road!

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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