Climb up a beautiful peak on the southern edge of the Funeral Mountains to great views of the Funeral Mountains, Black Mountains, Death Valley, Panamint Mountains, and beyond.
|Total Distance: 9.2 miles out & back||Elevation Gain: 3,768ft. (3,055ft. to 6,696ft.)|
|Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous||5-10 Mile Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous|
|View Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars||Author’s Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
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|Pets: No||Horses: Yes|
|Best Seasons: November-April||Special Permits: None|
|Water Availability: None||Overnight Options: Yes at the trailhead; also yes along the route once you enter the national park|
|Trailhead Amenities: Unimproved camping||Crowd Factor: Solitude|
|Trailhead Access: 0.6|
Mile-by-Mile: Pyramid Peak Route
0.0 The Pads Campground (3,055ft.). The trail begins at the gravel lot beside CA-190 at the entrance to the unmarked (but obvious) The Pads Desert Campsite. Cross CA-190, pass under the power lines, and walk north toward a prominent wash to the right of Pyramid Peak (in other words, the wash between Pyramid Peak (left) and the stripy pointy mountain to the right). The terrain is gravelly desert without a trail; you’ll probably cross more than a few channels of washes along the way. Eventually, you’ll enter the main wash; exactly when this happens will depend on how much you’ve been wandering west as you’ve been hiking. Keep walking north up the main wash. (36.340756°, -116.598727°)
2.6 Turn up side wash (3,778ft.). The wash splits here; you want to take the left (west and then north) wash up toward Pyramid Peak. A route strikes off on the right (north) to take you up a wash/ridge/slope toward the main ridgeline a short distance later. From this point on, you may or may not find a light trail to follow. (36.375828°, -116.591592°)
3.3 Ridgeline (4,573ft.). Turn left (west) to follow the ridgeline upward. As you walk, you’ll come to a place where it looks like you’ll need to climb a very steep scree slope – the gully of darker rock to the left is a much easier, better option. Above the gully, the route flattens a bit before crossing darker rock up to the summit of Pyramid Peak. Rocks and pinnacles dot the final ridgeline; social trails lead around the difficult/dangerous sections. (approx. 36.384149°, -116.595140°)
4.6 Summit of Pyramid Peak (6,696ft.). Enjoy spectacular views in all directions, including north deep into the Funeral Mountains, south into the Black Mountains and Greenwater Range, and west to Manly Beacon (Zabriskie Point), Badwater Flats, and the Panamint Mountains, and east to the plains of Nevada and beyond. (36.391790°, -116.612046°)
History & More
The beginning of this hike is through the Funeral Mountains Wilderness; you’ll enter Death Valley National Park about 2.5 miles in to the hike. (at about 36.374433, -116.592160)
The route described here is an approximation of what you’ll want to do. Use it as a reference but don’t use it to your detriment (for example, following the route over a cliff edge or into a dangerous situation), ok?
Remarkably few peaks in the Funeral Mountains have official names. So it suffices to say that from the peak you’ll see “the Funeral Mountains” without identifying many mountains. The Black Mountains and Greenwater Range, to the south, suffer a similar fate.
The Pads Campground is a mostly-official boondocking campground just outside of Death Valley National Park. In other words, it’s free and it sits on a site that was once an RV campground and, before that, was an old mining area, and now is sort of owned by the public but not administered by any official agency. It tends to attract an eclectic mix of tent-campers, RVers, couples, families, and people from all walks of life. However, there are no amenities available besides the concrete pads.
Download Route Map
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
Click here for 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.)