Added by Mike Quine
Telescope Peak is the highest point in Death Valley National Park standing at 11,049 ft. The peak offers an unforgettable view of the lowest point in the Continental United States, 11,000ft below! This hike can range in difficulty depending on weather conditions. Hiking in the snow adjusts the required mountaineering skills from Be to Advanced. In winter conditions, particularly along the steep mountain faces and final ridge ascent, mountaineering can be tricky, therefore consider the use of ice axes and crampons.
The trail starts at Mahogany Flat campground which can be hiked to from the Charcoal Kilns to the north or more immediately accessible via 4WD on a dirt access road - use caution when driving this road in icy conditions.
Once at the Mahogany Flat Campground, the trailhead is towards the south and is marked by a sign and trail post. Continue south through a densely forested eastface (warm in morning, shady and cold on a return evening hike). The trail eventually begins to gradually switchback, though the majority of the trek follows long stretches of panoramic vistas along a sparsley covered ridgeline.
Hiking along the east of the ridgeline, you pass by (but not over) Rodgers and Bennett Peaks within the first couple of hours at a moderate pace. The forest thins and for the remainder of the trek you are exposed to potentially high winds and the raw elements. If not already required, this open landscape in the winter often requires a readily accessible ice axe and crampons or snow shoes. If trail is covered in snow, recommend hiking as close to ridgeline to avoid walking on a slant of a mountain face (speaking from experience).
The final mile is dotted with twisted, gnarled, and otherworldly bristlecone pines that provide an amazing prelude to the vast horizon in the background. You now are face to face with a prominently steeper ridgeline that stands between you and the summit. It looks more harrowing from a distance. The only concern once on the final approach is of course unstable footing in less than ideal weather conditions.
The paramount view is well worth it! An 11,000 foot view of the lowest point on the continental United States below.
- Usual suspects Backpacking Kit (adjusted to the season)
- Cold Weather Clothes - Don't be fooled by the hot temperatures below, Telescope Peak can be cold
- Crampons (Winter only)
- Ice Axe (Winter Only)
- Snowshoes (winter only)
- A sense of pride that you earned your sweat, while those 11,000ft below are sweating just from sitting still. Death Valley is NOT just a clever name. HOT
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