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

4x4 is recommended for this outer trail through the Trona Pinnacles National Conservation Area. Some of the trail is hard-packed mixed with a few rock shelves and some sandy wash crossings. There are many offshoot trails and little loops to explore from this main route. There is dispersed camping around and be sure to look for established fire rings before selecting a spot to camp. Be sure to "Pack it in and Pack it out". The only facilities are near the western end in the form of a pit toilet. There is no water or other waste services here. Be sure to keep an eye out for trail closed signs and rehabilitation signs as you traverse the area as to not disrupt or create new trails. They may take decades to repair in the desert environment. There are 3 bars of LTE service and you can hear mining concussions from the nearby activities in Trona. Temperatures can exceed 100o in the summer months and this area can get unbearably windy. Be sure to pack in enough extra water

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