[3 of 3] I didn't recommend it in my first message, but my favorite part of DV now is just outside the park itself in the Inyo Mountains to the west, especially the Swansea-Cerro Gordo loop. It's a stunning area and there is a lonely campsite on the north end, just below New York Butte, that is probably my favorite campsite ever. Also hiking trails cover the area, some of them old jeep roads. They are all rugged and challenging.
I have the Digonnet books. Digonnet discussed the Inyos but hardly scratches the surface. Most of the hiking in the Inyos centers around the Lonesome Miner Trail and the trails in the area of the ghost town of Beveridge. BLM rangers say to never underestimate the Inyos, from the lack of shade and water, to the sheer steepness of the terrain, to the fact that trails wash out every year.
FYI, I'm planning to put together a trip to Butte Valley this spring.
[2 of 3] In fact, I've read accounts that there was a very cool and rough trail over the top of the Panamints as recently as the late 1980s, from Panamint City to Johnson Canyon. Some fellow said on a forum that he drove it and found himself on the back side of a sign that said forbidden access at Hungry Bill's Ranch. A ranger happened to be there and blew a gasket when he saw the jeep descend the mountain, but when the dude convinced him he'd come over the mountain peaks and hadn't deliberately crossed a locked gate or forbidden access sign, the ranger got off his high horse and didn't cite him. The fine would have been $1,000 or more.
I actually wrote to the head of the park service asking that some of these trails be reopened, but good luck with that. Bureaucrats want their jobs to get easier, not harder, every year. That's why there are never announcements of new trails opening up, only of trails being closed indefinitely or permanently. [continued]
[1 of 3] DesertRubi, just realized this AM that I hadn't been on WF since before Christmas! Just saw your message below.
I agree that the roughest trail in DV is probably that short stretch in Echo Canyon. I think that Goler Wash can be pretty rough too, especialy because it has year round water, but it gets maintained every year and every time I've done it, it's been a bunny run.
There used to be rougher trails elsewhere in the park but they have all been closed down by the park service. The trail into Panamint City was a real level-5 challenge, but was closed long ago. Also, there was a steep and scenic trail out of Jail Canyon, to Hall Canyon, that is still visible on maps; the park service closed that one down too. Finally, there was a trail connecting Augeberry Point to Trail Canyon that washed out many years ago, and the park service never repaired it -- you can still see it on the sat map, too. [continued]
Thanks for the reply. I love it too and have been to a number of the same places over the last year since getting my Jeep. I'd spent a fair amount of time hiking with a regular car prior years, but got the Jeep to go anywhere. Butte Valley was my last trip in the spring and was fantastic, nobody in the valley the night I spent there, just burros and coyotes singing.
Think the toughest trail I've yet to do is Echo Canyon, looks like decent obstacles. So far I haven't found anything to push my stock JKUR, although Dedeckera Canyon was sporting for novice me. Guys on the South Park/Pleasant Canyon loop said the trail had been made much easier in recent years. Guess the next flood could change that...might have to wait a decade or two though.
Do you have the Digonnet Hiking Death Valley books? Great info on hikes of all difficulty, interesting historical and geological info. Good road info, but less important when your Jeep can go anywhere open to a vehicle.