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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

White Mountain Peak 14252, CA

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Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 15.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 11,692 feet
Elevation Gain 2,463 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,269 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 31.6
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
38  2021-06-16 DixieFlyer
19  2016-06-18 BiFrost
8  2016-06-18 slowandsteady
15  2011-08-28 DaddyLongLegs
Author DaddyLongLegs
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 64
Trips 44 map ( 256 miles )
Age 62 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → 8 AM
Sun  4:59am - 6:58pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water


One of twelve
by DaddyLongLegs

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Overview
There's something alluring, among serious hikers, about mountains above fourteen thousand feet. In Colorado, there are 51 highly sought after "fourteeners". In California, there are 12, including Mt Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. So, if you're interested in fourteeners, where do you find one that is relatively easy to hike? Try the White Mountains in California's Inyo National Forest.


Of the twelve peaks above 14000 in California, White Mountain Peak is the third highest, not far below Mt Whitney and Mt Williamson. Yet, strangely enough, it's probably the easiest "fourteener" to climb in the US. That's because the hike begins at 12000 feet and traverses along a long gentle slope most of the way. The most difficult part is the last two miles, where 11 wide switchbacks take you up the steep climb to the top (about half of your elevation gain).

While it might be the easiest, White Mountain is undoubtedly not the prettiest, but this hike is well worth it. The White Mountains don't get the rainfall of the Sierra Nevadas, which is part of the reason for its 'moonlike' landscape. Yet this makes the White Mountains an ideal home of the Bristlecone Pines, some of the oldest trees in the world. Several groves of these amazing trees can be found along the route to this trailhead, but you won't find many Bristlecones above 12000 feet. This hike is situated in a barren place with no trees and very few small plants and shrubs. So the beauty found here comes from other sources, like the breathtaking cliffs, the incredible views of Owens Valley, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west.

What's more, even though it's on the opposite side of Owens Valley, White Mountain Peak's elevation makes it a popular warm-up hike for people preparing to do Mount Whitney. However, don't let that fool you. Any hike over fourteen thousand feet will take your breath away if you aren't in condition.

Hike
The "trailhead" begins at the Barcroft gate at an elevation of 12,000 feet. The same long dirt road which brought you across the White Mountain ridge becomes "a hiker's trail" and meanders its way from the other side of the gate the entire seven-mile trip to the top. Two miles in from the gate, you will come to the University of California, Barcroft Laboratory.

Walk straight through, along the road, passing the large gray corrugated metal building and a small coral where you might see twenty head of sheep. Proceed along the road, up the hill slightly to the left, and you will come to a saddle. It is here that you will get your first view of White Mountain Peak, and to your right will be the observatory.

The road takes a slight turn to the right and heads downhill for a short way. Then there's a long open stretch as the peak gradually appears to enlarge. Eventually, as you climb the road, you'll pass the White Mountain Wilderness sign. Climbing a bit further, you will come to the top of the massive saddle before the final ascent up the switchbacks. As you begin your descent onto the saddle, you can see the enormity of this mountain. The 11 broad switchbacks lead you to the top, where a tiny shack is used for the White Mountain Research Station. As you begin to climb up from the saddle, the road becomes rockier, and the tan dirt seems to disappear between the cracks. The road is steeper but clearly leads the way to the top.

Water Sources
None

Camping
Yes

California Fourteeners
Wikipedia California Fourteeners List

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a moderately difficult hike.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2011-12-30 DaddyLongLegs
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Big Pine (on HWY 395), take route 168 east about 13 miles. Turn left on White Mountain road. Drive another 22 miles to the locked gate. (16 miles of dirt road) This is the beginning of the "trail" for this hike. There's a parking area on the left. While I think the way is accessible (in summer) by car, a high clearance vehicle is recommended. Camping is allowed at the trailhead, but the only amenity is a pit toilet.
    page created by DaddyLongLegs on Dec 30 2011 2:52 pm
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