OverviewMost people who climb Ubehebe Peak are going to use the trail that climbs from the Racetrack to Little Ubehebe Peak. I would bet that nearly all who climb just Little Ubehebe use that route.
The route described here makes sense under two particular circumstances:
* As a descent route.
* If the only goal is "Big" Ubehebe.
This is a short but steep route with considerable amounts of loose rock and Class 3 scrambling, which is why most will be happier with the trail if the goal includes Little Ubehebe.
Getting ThereThere are several different ways to get to the Racetrack. The one I will describe begins from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and is passable to almost any vehicle. The going is sometimes rocky and washboarded, but I have made the trip in both an SUV and a regular car with ease.
From the visitor center, follow CA 190 northwest for 19 miles to a junction where a road heads northwest to Grapevine and Scotty’s Castle (CA 190 bears west and soon passes Mesquite Flat en route to Stovepipe Wells and beyond). Drive 33 miles to Grapevine and a junction. Turn left (northwest) for Ubehebe Crater. The pavement ends 5 miles later at the crater, the remnant of an ancient volcanic eruption. Follow the now-unpaved road, marked on maps as a high-clearance road but passable to most regular cars, south for 20 miles to Teakettle Junction, where you must turn southwest for the Racetrack. Along the way, you will drive through a nice Joshua Tree forest and will have excellent views of Tin Mountain, the Cottonwood Mountains (to the east), and the Last Chance Range (to the west). In winter and early spring, there will probably be snow on these peaks and maybe even in or around the Joshua Tree forest. From Teakettle Junction, where teakettles actually do hang from the road sign, it is 7 miles to the southern end of the Racetrack. There is a small parking area near the north end of the Racetrack, and the Grandstand beckons about a half-mile to the east. Directly above you to the west looms 5678’ Ubehebe Peak. Park here.
Route DescriptionThe unmarked trail to Ubehebe Peak begins at the parking area and is easy to see. Hike this trail for a few minutes until you reach a small wash coming from the gully leading to the Big Ubehebe-Little Ubehebe saddle and then follow that wash as it steepens and becomes more rugged.
There is little more to say about the route. Find your way up the gully until you reach the saddle. There are several short dryfalls, but all I encountered were easy to either climb or bypass.
From the saddle, go left to scramble up Big Ubehebe or right to scramble up Little Ubehebe. If you need more details on that, please see the other route page attached to the Ubehebe Peak page.
The climb to the saddle is about one mile with 1500' of elevation gain. It's less than half a mile to either peak from there, with about 300' gained to Little Ubehebe and 400' to Big Ubehebe.
Lower on the route, keep an eye out for an old mine opening and perhaps other signs of the mining days since maps show prospects on the slopes.
Warning: there is no water on this route, and the closest established water source is about 30 miles away! There are springs not far away in the mountains, but you must know where to look, and that is not exactly a good water-supply plan.