Take an old mining trail up to a small peak with views across the Racetrack Playa.
|Total Distance: 3.8 miles out & back||Elevation Gain: 1,905ft. (3,708ft. to 5,470ft.)|
|Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous||0-5 Mile Difficulty: Very Strenuous|
|View Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars||Author’s Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
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|Pets: No||Horses: No|
|Best Seasons: November-April||Special Permits: None|
|Water Availability: None||Overnight Options: None|
|Trailhead Amenities: None||Crowd Factor: Solitude|
|Trailhead Access: 1.9|
Mile-by-Mile: Little Ubehbe Peak
0.0 The Grandstand Parking Area (3,708ft.). Follow the trail west across the desert toward the mountains (opposite of the way to the Grandstand). After a bit, the trail angles north, becoming steeper after mile 0.5 as it runs up a rocky gully. (36.694324°, -117.571711°)
0.7 Begin Swichbacks (4,175ft.). The switchbacks are often considered the most difficult part of the hike. The area was heavily mined, so it’s likely that the route was constructed for mules and miners to climb over the ridge – function over ease of hiking. The view over the Racetrack and the mountains to the east is quite good as you climb higher. (36.697997°, -117.580674°)
1.4 Ridgeline/Saddle (4,914ft.). Enjoy the views to the east of the Racetrack and the Cottonwood Mountains; to the west is Saline Valley with its salt lake and the Inyo Mountains. Take the upper trail (the lower one goes to some mining operations); at times, the trail may become “lost” in a Class 2+ scramble of rocks, but it fairly quickly comes back into sight again. About mile 1.6, the trail may seem to end at some rock slabs; in reality, it drops to the west to an old 5-gallon metal bucket above an old wheelbarrow, then comes up over a rocky outcrop. (36.700660°, -117.587138°)
1.8 Little Ubehebe Saddle (5,399ft.). To go to Little Ubehebe Peak, turn left (north) here and scramble up to the peak. (36.696231°, -117.585868°)
1.9 Little Ubehebe Peak (5,470ft.). Enjoy spectacular views to the Cottonwood Mountains and the Racetrack to the east; Saline Valley and the Inyo Mountains to the west; and Ubehebe Peak to the south. It is possible to continue to Ubehebe Peak; however, the trail is more difficult than up to this point, so many people call this view “good enough.” (36.696917°, -117.585983°)
History & More
It’s hard to say exactly how Ubehebe Peak received its name. Some say that the word means “big basket” in the Paiute language, but no one is quite sure why the peak would be named after a basket.
If you like scrambling, you can continue along the ridgeline to Ubehebe Peak. It’s a rough route and offers only marginally better views than what you get on Little Ubehebe Peak.
The area was heavily prospected in the early 1900s. Be wary of possible mine shafts and drill holes and enjoy the historic junk that was left behind by the miners.
Despite the route being little more than a social trail, it’s well-trodden enough to be pretty easy to follow in most places.
Download Trail Map
It is extremely dangerous to enter a mine due to unstable shafts, gasses, and more. Do not enter mines, even if they are apparently open!
Walking on, climbing, entering, ascending, descending, or traversing any mine, structure, feature, or ruin is prohibited.
Toxic chemicals or ore may be present around mine sites. Enter at your own risk.
Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or disturbing any mine, structure, feature, or ruin is also prohibited.
Leave No Trace Principles are enforced
Drones and model aircrafts are prohibited
Camping is permitted only in designated sites or in areas open to dispersed backcountry camping
All park rules and regulations
12 Month Pass: $55/Death Valley Annual Pass (valid at Death Valley National Park). $80/America the Beautiful Annual Pass (valid at all national park and federal fee areas). $20/Annual Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/4th Grade Pass (Valid Sept. 1-August 31 of the child’s 4th Grade school year). Free/Military Pass (valid for all active military personel and their dependents with a CAC Card or DD Form 1173).
Lifetime Pass: $80/Lifetime Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/Access Pass (available to all US citizens with perminent disabilities). Free/Access for Veterans and Gold Star Families Pass (valid for all military and veterans with a CAC card, Veteran HJealth Identification Card, Veteran ID Card, or veteran’s designation on state-issued drivers license or identification card.)