4×4 Trona Pinnacles Playground Scenic Tour

Total Miles
3.0

Elevation

559.54 ft

Duration

Hours

Technical Rating

4

Moderate

Best Time

winter, fall, spring

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Trail Overview

Difficulty

Intermediate

History

The Trona Pinnacles are unique geological features in the California Desert Conservation Area. The unusual landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Dry Lake basin. The pinnacles vary in size and shape from short and squat to tall and thin and are composed primarily of calcium carbonate (tufa). The Trona Pinnacles have been featured in many commercials, films, and still-photo shoots. The Trona Pinnacles were designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1968 to preserve one of North America's most outstanding examples of tufa tower formation. Geology and History Rising from the bottom of what was once an ancient lakebed, the Trona Pinnacles represent one of the most unique geologic landscapes in the California Desert. Over 500 of these tufa (or calcium carbonate spires) are spread out over a 14 square mile area across the Searles Lake basin. These features range in size from small-coral-like boulders to several that top out at over 140 feet tall. The Pinnacles were formed between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago when Searles Lake formed a link in a chain of interconnected lakes flowing from the Owens Valley to Death Valley. At one point during the Pleistocene, the area was under 640 feet of water.

Technical Rating

4