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You are here: Home : Hiking Last Updated on 07/04/2003    
Diff: Rating 7/10
Scenic: Rating 8/10
Tech: Rating 2/10
White Mountain Peak
         California's easiest fourteener
Location: White Mountains, White-Inyo Range, Central California
Region: White Mountain Peak
Wilderness: None
Total Distance: 15 Mi
Elevation Gain: 3,100 Ft
Season: June-Sept
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 11,690 Ft
Peak Elev: 14,246 Ft
Total Time: 4.67 hr
Time In: 2.5 hr
Time Out: 2.17 hr

Peak List Peak List
Peak Name Elevation
White Mountain Peak 14,246 Ft

Hike added by
on 07/15/2002
Driving Directions
From Southern California, take Highway 395 north to Big Pine, CA. From the intersection of I-15 and Hwy 395, this takes about 4 hours. The drive to the starting point of the hike is about another 2 hours from here. At the north end of Big Pine, is Highway 168. Take Hwy 168 east. After a short while, the road starts winding up into the mountains. After the road finishes winding, you are now in a pinon pine forest and will shortly pass a group campground on your right. Just pass the campground on your left is a road to the Bristlecone Pine forest. Take this road. You will stay on this road for most of the rest of the drive. The road is paved for quite a while to just after you pass the Schulman Grove entrance of the Bristlecone Pine forest at about 10,075 ft elevation. Continue pass the ancint forest and continue on the road after it changes to dirt. If I remember correctly it's about an hour drive from here to the parking spot. The road is fairly nice but is rough in a few spots. After about 12 miles passed the Bristlecone forest parking, you will need to make a left onto the road that goes up to University of California high altitude Barcroft research facility. After about 6 more miles, you will reached the closed gates that lead to Barcroft. Park here outside the gates and you can use the wire mesh laying around to seal the underside of your vehicle to prevent marmots from getting up into your engine compartment and causing problems.

On the way back down, you can save time by taking the Silver Canyon 4WD road back. It will dump you out just north of Bishop. I'm told that it can be difficult to maneuver upon with sharp switchbacks and steep drop-offs. I also hear that it is too narrow for 2 way traffic and nowhere to pull of to let someone pass.
Hike passed the closed gates and in about 2 miles you will reach the Barcroft research facility. There was some sheep out there when I went through there. Continue passed the facility and up the hill. You will pass by some sort of telescope looking thing and continue on the same road through the long straight-a-way and towards White Mountain Peak in the distance. When the trail finally turns and heads toward White Mountain Peak your almost there. Continue up the 5 or so switchbacks and then you'll be at the top where there is a research building. Go back the way you came up.
I was staying in Bishop when I did this hike. I was at White Mountain Research Station in Bishop in summer field geology for UC Davis. Had the day off from school work until after dinner. Decided to drive up and hike White Mountain. It's about a 2 hour drive from Bishop to the parking area, but could be longer if you want to drive slower! I was told by a TA after I got back the the gate up to Barcroft is not locked, it's just closed. I don't know, I didn't check. On the drive up there I started feeling lightheaded at about 9000 ft elevation. I'm thinking how am I going to make it to over 14,000 ft? Fact is, a whole large container of granular Tide with Bleach laundry detergent had spilled in my truck and that was causing the lightheadedness. When I got to the parking spot, I cleaned up the detergent the best I could and headed up. Kept up a good pace and made it to the peak fairly quickly I think about 2 hours or so. The peak offers probably the craziest view I've seen from any peak because you can look nearly straight down 10,000 feet to the valley floor below. It's a different view than from Mt. Whitney because Mt. Whitney is set back much further from the valley below. I Could see some weird circle patterns from up there on the ground below on both sides of the peak. Maybe some kind of farming or something. The whole trail up there, there were large furry squirrels or marmots or something running around and popping out from under rocks when I walked by, lizards too, and lots of bees. There was a few small patches of snow left off the side of the peak. From Bishop, there appeared to be quite a bit more snow than this 3 weeks earlier. It was probably in the middle 40s temperature-wise at the peak. The hike was pretty cool the whole way up. At the same time, in Bishop, the temperature was about a miserable 105 degrees or so, a marked difference. Started getting a headache at the top so I didn't stay there for more than 15 minutes.
Trail Condition
4WD trail all the way up, can't ask for much more that can take you above 14,000 ft. Great condition.
Forest Details
The entire hike is above treeline. If you have time, stop at the Schulman Grove in the Bristlecone Pine forest. There are some really cool trees out there.
Additional Elevation & Distance Information
This hike starts high and ends high. After about a 2 mile mellow walk up to Barcroft Research Lab at 12,425 ft, the road becomes 4WD. This hike is a fairly mellow climb the whole way to the peak actually. The long northward straight-a-way ends at about 13,150 ft, then you descend about 200ft and then start climbing up the switchbacks to the peak. The last switchback is lengthy.
Added on 07/04/2003 by TractorUp
Hiked White Mountain on the fourth of July. Went with two buddies from summer field camp, Mike and John. The hike was very nice. Ran into about 20-30 people and 2 or 3 dogs along the way. Temperature at the peak was probably in the 50s at midday. We took our time and took a lot of pictures, 3 hours up, 3 hours down, starting at the gate. The gate to the Barcroft station wasn't locked, just closed. Snow was patchy, mostly near the peak and patches were up to about 3.5 feet deep and windblown into columns. White mountain offers a great view of the sierras... from south of Lone pine to maybe 60 miles north of Bishop... that's about a 120 mile view and it's impressive. Got about an hour of sleep the night before on a count of the mosquitos in Bishop and the heat. We took Silver Canyon road back down to Bishop in Mike's Jeep Grand Cherokee. The road is not bad so long as you have good brakes and keep your speed down. But just when the road starts to level out there are maybe a half dozen stream crossings before you can get back to the paved road. The last of these crossings was about 1.5 feet deep, so some big tires and a lift would have helped. The apparently stock Jeep made it through fine though. It would have been a bummer to go down all that way and almost be out of there and then have to turn around for a 2+ hour drive back to Bishop.
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