Whipple Mountain Northwest Canyon Approach

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking, Scrambling
Spring, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

Route Quality: 0 Votes

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Whipple Mountain Northwest Canyon Approach
Created On: Mar 2, 2010
Last Edited On: Mar 2, 2010


This route follows the most common route to the summit. It is described as "Route B" in the Sierra Club Desert Peaks Section list. The route features a mix of desert trekking, canyons and some steep scrambling near the top.

Getting There

See the main page for directions. The trailhead is at about 1,480 feet.

Route Description

From War Eagle Mine, drop into the wash and start walking south. After 0.8 mile, bear right at a major split in the wash. Continue south (slightly southwesterly) as the wash narrows into a proper high-walled canyon. The route then bears left and now trends more southeasterly. Quickly, the walls close in on you and now you're in a beautiful canyon. Some cairns and paths may help expedite travel through the brush and rocks.

The only major obstacle of the hike comes at about the 2,400-foot level: a 25-foot high dry waterfall. Stay to the right and ascend up a nice sloping crack. You can probably walk the whole section. I'd rate it Class 3-. Above this, the canyon takes on a different character, with more bare rock sections, which makes hiking a breeze. There are a few other smaller upclimbs of about 10-15 feet, but there's always an easy way up. When the canyon opens up at about the 2,600-foot level, bear left, then right, and meet a saddle at 3,000 feet, just south of Peak 3,292. To here you've covered about 3.5 miles and about 1,600 feet of gain.

Whipple Mountains CAAim for this rock wall once at the 3,000-ft saddle.

Look up and see a rock wall. Aim for the left, following some paths and cairns, then cross a small gully. Here the ascent becomes very steep, brushy and loose. Just pay attention and go slow and you should be fine. Bypass a rockfall early on by staying left, then aim for a natural constriction in the slopes above you. Ascend through this constriction and bear right, ascending to a subridge at about elevation 3,500 feet. From here, walk up the ridge to the main range crest, hang a left and follow some scant paths around a pinnacle to gain the summit, about 0.25 miles beyond.

Whipple Mountains CAOnce in the higher gully, aim for the constriction, go above it, then right.

On the descent, you may see footpaths lower down you didn;t see coming up. Follow them as you desire. We found that once out onto the desert flats, we stayed above the wash on its west and followed some fine game and people paths nearly all the way back to the cars. However, these paths do wind in and out with other paths and trying to stay on course on the ascent is probably not worth the trouble. The wash is easy hiking for the most part.

Whipple Mountains CAOn the walk out, enjoy the broad plains.

Essential Gear

Long everything. Bring water, and be on the lookout for thorny, prickly plants and rattlesnakes when it gets warm.


Whipple Mountain Northwest Canyon Approach

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