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, elevation about 3,900 ft, 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 outs. Coming down was a nightmare with Class 5.2 Toyota Tacoma moves to keep from rolling into the canyon.
Find a place to park off the road at the head of the canyon
The hike begins at the head of the canyon before the road ascends up to the solar powered communication station. The first part or the route follows the road. If you stopped and parked 2.5 miles from Old Mormon Spring then you have a road walk of .7 mile and elevation gain of about 600 feet up to the solar powered communication station and then continue along the ridge line another .5 mile to where I parked on a point of a ridge.
From this vantage you can see the road continue ahead. Note where the road disappears about .3 mile ahead. At the point where the road appears to end you will turn left and hike up the slope to a little saddle about 150 ft above. From there you will continue straight ahead to the large white tall ridge to the west that towers over the little saddle above the road.
Climbing this white bluff is the crux of the climb, but it is not the summit. You have to drop down about 50 feet from the saddle and then back up rocky and scree slopes between cliffs. You will have to use your route finding skills to avoid the cliffs. The grassy areas are sandy and good footing. I went straight up the middle to the a little “v” at the top of this ridge. If you are climbing with others, be careful not to kick rocks down on each other. You crest the ridge at about 5,250 foot elevation and then you hike over point 5,455 on the topo.
Once you get to the top of this ridge turn northwest and stay near or at the top of the ridgeline. You will notice a faint climbers trail and this is a good path to follow. I lost it several times but it was easy to find again. The ridge line goes up, down, and around several (I counted 10) intermediary highpoints as it meanders toward the summit in the distance.
The summit is not readily identifiable because it is only a few feet higher than several other highpoints. Keep heading northwest. The summit is a bare cone shaped peak that is lighter in color than most others and has very few bushes on its flanks.
Eventually you get to the last cone in the string and you are at the summit. Views to the west and south are into Fort Irwin.
Return to you car the same way you came being careful on your descent from the white ridgeline. You don’t want to fall, kick rocks onto others, or get stranded above a cliff.
Overall this hike is about 9 miles, has 3,300 feet of elevation gain, and should take about 5.5 hours.
Sunscreen, Water, Hat, Good Shoes, and the Ten Essentials. There is nothing technical about this route. There is no water along the route, so bring more than you will need.
A GPS may be handy to verify that you are heading to the correct highpoint.
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