Black Mountain is the southern-most peak in the White Mountains and is a prominent mountain on the Bishop and Big Pine skylines. Being separated from the Inyo Mountains to the south by Westgard Pass, and the rest of the White Mountains to the north by Black Canyon and Marble Canyon, Black Mountain appears more mountain-like than many of its higher neighbors.
While not a necessarily difficult or particularly popular peak, Black Mountain is certainly not without its attractions. A pleasant pinyon pine forest covers most of the mountain. Aside from that and the usual desert flora, there is also a small grove of bristlecone pines. The approach road for the usual route up ends at the now defunct Black Beauty mine, where gold and silver were extracted. In addition, very nice quartz crystals can also be found along the way to the summit. Aside from this, the views from the summit, at least on a clear day, are stunning.
The primary route to the summit comes over a mining road from the east from White Mountain Road. The peak has also been climbed via the south ridge from SR 168, the north ridge from Black Canyon, and the west ridge from the Owens Valley. According to various entries in the summit register, this seems to be a popular peak to climb naked.
These directions are for the normal way up Black Mountain via the mining road from the east. If coming from the Owens Valley, from US 395 in Big Pine, take SR 168 East toward Westgard Pass. If coming from Nevada, take SR 168 West from SR 266. Turn north on White Mountain Road, and drive past an empty entrance entrance station for about a half mile until a dirt mining road, Forest Service Road 4S01A, appears on the west. As long as it's clear of snow, this road should be passable to most vehicles with a moderate amount of clearance, though the road may deteriorate somewhat as the season wears on. Follow this road for five miles, always taking the most obviously traveled way should a side road appear, until the remains of the Black Beauty mining camp on the east slope of the lower eastern summit of Black Mountain are found. Park here.
Black Mountain is located on the Inyo National Forest. As it is outside the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, there is no entry fee to pay.
For further information, contact the Inyo National Forest at:
White Mountain Ranger Station
798 N. Main St.
Bishop, CA 93514
The station is open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM all year, but only open Monday through Friday during the winter.
The Inyo National Forest
has a website with a good deal of useful information.
There are several campgrounds
nearby, countless more down in the Owens Valley, and, since Black Mountain isn't in a wilderness area, dispersed camping is probably OK. Check with the Forest Service to be sure.
When to Go
The mining road will most likely be snowed in during the winter, which will add some extra time, but otherwise Black Mountain can be a year-round hike.
The Forest Service maintains a current conditions
CalTrans provides up to date road information for SR 168
The NOAA has current weather information and a forecast
for the area.