Hike Name: Wildrose Peak Trail
Name of area/general location: Death Valley National Park
Land Acknowledgement: Wildrose Peak is located on the ancestral lands and in the traditional territories of the Newe Sogobia (Western Shoshone) and Kawaiisu People. To learn more about the original residents and stewards of the lands, visit native-land.ca
Trail rating: Moderate/difficult, primarily due to the fairly significant elevation gain (2,200 ft.)
Trail mileage: 8.4 miles in and out (roundtrip)
Permissible trail uses (dogs, horses, mountain bikes, others): Hiking and horseback riding are the only allowable uses on this trail. Mountain bikes and dogs are prohibited.
Description of the area, sights, wildlife, and any key markers on the trail: The Wildrose Peak trail begins at the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns at an elevation of 6,800 feet. Be sure to explore these historic kilns before or after your hike as they were used at the end of the 19th century to convert lumber into charcoal for nearby silver mines.
The trailhead is located to the north of the first kiln. It is 2,200 vertical feet from the trailhead to the summit, but you will be rewarded with good views of Death Valley well before you summit. The first opportunity to enjoy the view is about one-fourth of a mile from the trailhead, at an outcropping that looks out over Wildrose Canyon.
The single-track trail will gradually ascend through shady pinyon pine and juniper forest. However, beginning about 1.9 miles past the trailhead, that changes to a much more aggressive climb.
After traveling 1.2 miles, the trail straightens out and arrives at a saddle below the peak. From here, the summit is 1.1 miles and 900 feet away. This is where the climb becomes the most difficult, but the corresponding views become even more impressive. After 0.95 miles from where the trail straightens, the slope you have been climbing reveals itself to be a false summit that is 50 feet shorter than the actual high point. This would be a disappointment if the last 0.15 miles to the actual summit were not an easy walk across the ridge to the mostly-barren top of Wildrose Peak. Your efforts will be rewarded by panoramic views of the Panamint Range to the south (Rogers, Bennet, and Telescope Peaks), and the salt flats of Death Valley to the east. Plus, the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada Range can be seen to the west.
You can return to the parking area the way you came up. You don’t need to worry about any junctions on this trail that may lead you astray.
The best months to hike this trail are October through April or May. Due to its relatively high elevation, this trail can sometimes be done in the late spring or summer months, especially if you get an early start. However, the winter months often bring fairly significant snow and/or ice which may make this trail dangerous unless you are equipped with adequate winter clothing, an ice axe, and crampons.
Directions: From Highway 395 northbound in Olancha (approximately 91 miles north of Mojave), turn right onto Highway 190. After about 15 miles, you will come to the intersection of Highway 136 and 190. Turn right to remain on Highway 190 and travel about 67 miles until you reach Emigrant Canyon Road. Turn right onto Emigrant Canyon Road and drive 30 miles to the parking area at the Charcoal Kilns, passing Wildrose Campground after 21 miles.
From Stovepipe Wells (within the Park), head west on Route 190 for 9 miles. Turn left just past Emigrant Campground onto Emigrant Canyon Road. Drive 21 miles to Wildrose Campground, and continue another 9 miles to the parking area at the Charcoal Kilns.
The last few miles of Wildrose Canyon Road are unpaved graded gravel, which may cause the Park to close this road during/after rainstorms or winter weather. The road is usually passable in a sedan so long as there have not been recent rainstorms. Vehicle sizes are limited to 25 feet at the Charcoal Kilns parking area. The parking lot is an open gravel area with trash receptacles and a vault toilet.
Due to the fact that this trail is located within Death Valley National Park, you will need to pay the entrance fee to the Park in order to hike this trail. There are no location or fee machines near this trail where you can pay that fee in person. If you are not planning to be in other areas of the Park where fees can be paid prior to hiking this trail, it may be best to pay the fee online.
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials