OverviewAvawatz Mountain is the highpoint of the Avawatz Mountains in San Bernardino County, California. The Avawatz Mountains are very prominent rising from the desert just north of the Interstate 15 Freeway near the town of Baker. Avawatz ranks #34 on the California Prominence list with 3,294 feet of prominence. Some of the west and south portion of this mountainous block is on the Fort Irwin National Training Center.
The Avawatz Mountains have been exploited by mining in the past, but there is no current activity on the mountain. Silver and other minerals were discovered here in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, there are a few mountain sheep that call these mountains home.
This peak is listed by the Desert Peaks Section of the Sierra Club as one of their approved hikes. With the always busy I-15 rushing people between Los Angeles and Las Vegas only a few miles away, these mountains offer solitude and a feeling of remoteness.
Getting ThereThe Desert Peaks Section of the Sierra Club lists 2 possible routes and approaches. I have directions from the east. Refer to their information for access from the north.
The most frequented access to these mountains is from the east because the restricted entry to Fort Irwin controls the access from the west. First you have to find the nice town of Baker. Baker is the home of the world’s tallest thermometer at 134 ft and is on I-15 about 57 miles northeast of Barstow or about 95 miles southwest of Las Vegas. California Hwy 127 heads north from Baker towards Death Valley.
Take Hwy 127 north for 19.1 miles from Baker. There are milepost markers along the highway, so pay attention once you pass the milepost 19 marker. You need to find a small road off the highway towards the west or your left. There is no sign here, it is just a rough gravel road heading west. I don’t think there are any other roads around, so if you see a way through the drainage ditch, that is the road.
I think 2WD vehicles can make it off the road here and all the way to Old Mormon Spring. This road isn’t very good, so don’t take your wife’s BMW off of Hwy 127. Follow this road about 4.5 miles west directly towards the mountain. Old Mormon Spring is at the base of the mountain and this is a good place to stop if you have 2WD or a low clearance vehicle.
4WD and high clearance vehicles are mandatory beyond Old Mormon Spring. Bear left at Old Mormon Spring and follow the road that is in the bottom of a wash. This is a crooked, bumpy, rocky ride and is slow going. Follow this canyon for about 2.5 miles to the head of the canyon. 1.1 miles from Old Mormon Spring I had to use Lo Range 4WD and lock the rear differential to get up a spot that was slick bedrock with a thin layer of sand on top.
At the head of the canyon the road takes a sharp right and climbs up to a ridgeline where there is a solar powered communications station. Don’t drive up there! I did, but I wouldn’t do it again. About half way up to the ridge there are 2 washouts that have narrowed the road so that your right side tires have to bounce through the wash out. Coming down was a nightmare with Class 5.2 Toyota Tacoma moves to keep from rolling into the canyon.
Steve Larson wrote: "As 4x4 roads go, this one is nothing special. I drove a full-size Tundra to the radio tower. Even with a long wheelbase and wide vehicle I found the washouts pretty easy to get around. The road is a bit rocky in places, and there are some minor ruts, but I didn't need anything more than normal 4 wheel drive to get up. Low range gears were nice on the way down, as I didn't have to ride the brakes." I guess he is a better 4x4 driver than I am.
Find a place to park off the road at the head of the canyon.
Red TapeNo read tape here, just good clean open spaces. Follow this link for more info on the Mojave National Preserve
When To ClimbWinter is best because it is one of the hottest places on earth in the middle of summer.
The weather for Baker, California is here: Baker
CampingCamping in the desert can be interesting. Don’t park or set up camp in a wash or drainage area even though you may be several miles from any thunderstorm activity. The washes go from dry, to tsunami, and back to dry in minutes.
Old Mormon Spring has ample room for several campsites and lots of parking.
There are some campgrounds in the Mojave National Preserve which is located mostly south of I-15. Mojave Camping
Otherwise, be self sufficient and pick a nice spot. Practice No Trace Camping whenever you are in the outdoors.
On the hike there are several places along the ridgelines to bivy for the night.
Mountain ConditionsDo not attempt this climb if thunderstorms are in the forecast.
During the rainy season, the washes may be treacherous so the approach drive may be impassable.
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]