Corkscrew Peak
9.5 miles     4000 ft
Summary

A desert peak with outstanding views. One of the easier peaks listed by the Desert Peaks Section of Sierra Club, the route is a combination of cross country hiking and walking along a well maintained trail. If you enjoy desert peaks near Death Valley, check out DPS List of Peaks.

Location: Death Valley National Park

Elevation Profile
Trip Planning
Trail Maps

» Official State Parks Map: A decent map that shows major roads, attractions and visitor centers.

» Trail Map by National Geographic: One of the better maps available. Shows back-country routes and popular trails clearly.

» Death Valley Backcountry Roads: Official State Parks Map showing backcountry roads

» Hiking Death Valley: A Guide to Its Natural Wonders and Mining Past (542 pages, 2004) by Michel Digonnet: This book is the Bible for Death Valley hikes. Most hikes in Death Valley are cross-country, marked by cairns. This book describes dozens of such routes with maps and elevation profiles.

Route

Regular Route (8 miles, 3000 ft):

Thanks to PanamintCity for their trip report and sharing a map with markers (cached copy). The regular route follows the top red line on the map with markers. Along Daylight Pass Rd, there is a large sign pointing towards Corkscrew Peak. The sign is about 0.2 miles north of the 'Parking area' shown in PanamintCity's map with markers. Note that to make North point upwards in the map with markers, you would have to rotate it by about 40 degrees in the clockwise direction.

The hike is in two parts:

1) Walk cross-country to find the right canyon to enter: The first part of the hike is cross-country. There is no trail. From the sign for Corkscrew Peak on Daylight Pass Rd, walk about 0.2 miles towards Scott's Castle Rd. Then turn right into a wide wash (see the map with markers). Walk north along this wash, looking out for a canyon on your left which has a 'Round Boulder' to the left of its entrance (see image). There are cairns atop this boulder. Finding the right canyon is important because there is a well maintained trail that starts inside the canyon and takes you all the way to the top. If you enter the wrong canyon, you may still be able to make it but you might have to scramble, as noted by the PanamintCity trip report.

2) Walk along a trail to Corkscrew Peak: After walking about 0.2 miles into the canyon, ascend the left slope of the canyon. This point was well marked by stones and cairns in Dec 2011. In the map with markers, it's marked as 'Ridge Climb Begins'. From this point onwards, a trail in good condition that takes you all the way to the top of Corkscrew Peak. It becomes steeper as you approach the peak.

Return by the same route.


Our Route (9.5 miles, 4000 ft): We did not follow the regular route described above. We started at the sign for Corkscrew Peak. Instead of walking 0.2 miles along the road towards Scotty's Castle Rd, we immediately entered a canyon right next to the sign for Corkscrew Peak and quickly climbed about 1000 ft to reach a saddle point. Walking about 0.2 miles north, we reached a peak that was marked by a very large cairn. We were rewarded by totally awesome views from this peak! From this peak, we could see Corkscrew Peak in quite some distance. We spotted a trail going all the way to the top. So we descended down to the wash below and entered the correct canyon marked by a boulder, then followed the route described above. On the way back, my GPS unit lost battery, so we could not capture the entire route all the way to our car which was parked next to the sign for Corkscrew Peak. On the whole, we did about 9.5 miles and 4000 ft climbing instead of 8 miles and 3000 ft if you were to go by the standard route.

Trailhead

Location: on Daylight Pass Road in Death Valley, CA . No street address. Parking area is not visible in Google Maps.

Directions: From Hwy 190, take Scotty's Castle Road going north for 0.6 miles. Turn right on Daylight Pass Rd headed towards Beatty, CA. Drive for 8.0 miles to reach a signpost with "Corkscrew Peak" written on it.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: Dec 2011)

Capacity: About 3 cars can be parked on the shoulder next to the sign.

Latitude: 36.739778     Longitude: -116.967230