• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

Scenic
Wildflowers

Pleasant hike to beautiful, secluded sand dunes. Likely to have these pristine dunes all to yourself, sans footprints all over the place. Excellent spot for photography. Primitive camping available for what must be a magical overnight experience. Plus, visit the magnificent Eureka Dunes while in the area. Approximately 6-8 miles round trip to Hidden Dunes. Best time of year: October through April.

THE HIDDEN DUNES HIKE

From the well, you will want to hike towards a gap in the mountains off to the West. Hopefully, you were able to see the dunes on the way in as described above to help gauge the direction to head in. A map, or GPS, can make this easier too, but probably isn’t needed. Just occasionally look back and note where you parked, because your car can quickly blend into the surroundings. The hike is a leisurely 3+ mile flat walk across open desert and easy terrain. Once you get to the gap, you can head up to the top of the first dune there and will see they extend a bit further than one might have imagined. They also extend pretty high up on the mountainsides. The highest dune is supposed to provide a nice view, but obviously adds to the difficulty of the hike.

CHOW TIME

This will depend on whether you are heading North or South from Big Pine. As far as I know, Big Pine doesn’t have any places worth stopping at to eat. If you’re heading South, we really like Bonanza for Mexican and Mt. Whitney Restaurant for burgers. Still Life Café in Independence is good too, but a little pricier. If you’re heading North, Las Palmas, Amigos, or the Pizza Factory are all good bets in Bishop.

GETTING THERE

From Big Pine, take Highway 178 and after a few miles turn right onto the Death Valley Road. This road will climb up over the northern end of the Inyo Range before dropping down into Eureka Valley and turning into a dirt road, which is usually in excellent condition. Drive close to the far eastern side of the valley before turning right/south onto the road heading to Eureka Dunes, which should be signed. This road can be a bit weather-boarded, but usually isn’t too bad. Follow this approximately 3.4 miles and make a right turn onto another dirt road heading back west. This turn is easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled. Follow this road for approximately 2.3 miles to a well (marked Dry Well on topo maps) and park here.

Note: keep an eye out to the south towards the western side of Eureka Valley after you drop down and start driving across the valley and you will see the one angle from which the Hidden Dunes aren’t actually hidden. This will also provide a good gauge for direction when heading out on your hike from the well.

To get to Eureka Dunes (37.10128 N, 117.67096 W), depart the Hidden Dunes (37.17597 N, 117.79047 W) parking area and head back out to the Eureka Dunes dirt toad. Turn right (south) and head several more miles down to the obvious dunes. There are camp spots at Eureka Dunes with benches and a pit toilet.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Bring plenty of water, as none is available
  • Extra layers for wind and cold, as the area can get surprising amounts of both
  • Camera and maybe extra gear like a tripod, etc.
  • Ten Essentials
  • Tent, Camping Gear if spending the night
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Evan Thomas

Avid explorer of the Eastern Sierra and Mojave Desert, with the occasional road trip to more distant locales. Love to hike, climb, cycle, dirt bike and have recently gotten very much into photography, especially the night sky. Staying active and living a healthy lifestyle is basically what my wife and I are all about. Cheers, Evan.
 
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