Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail

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4.8/5 (13 reviews)
Ballarat, California (Inyo County)
Last Updated: 05/01/2019
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Trail Information

Highlights

For the overlander who truly wants to explore the best of Death Valley, the Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail offers a little bit of everything. Mines, cabins, steep mountain ascents and descents, epic views, rocks, cliffs, wood bridges, and more. The loop begins and ends in the Panamint Valley and explores Pleasant Canyon, Middle Park, and South Park. Some of the many sites to visit are Claire Camp, World Beater Mine Cabin, Cooper Mine, Mormon Gulch, Rita's Cabin, Roger's Pass, Chicken Rock (see photo), Chicken Bridge, and Briggs Cabin. Chicken Rock is a downward-tilting, narrow section of the trail which tips your vehicle precariously towards a 200' vertical drop. Once past this obstacle, you face the famous 3-ton limit wooden bridge before descending back into the Panamint Valley to complete the loop.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Check out our Butte Valley (6.68 mi away) trail guide for an All-Access Preview!

Trail Reviews

4.8/5 (13)
Impassable
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/10/2024

Did the trail clockwise. Trail is washed out at 36.03488, -117.18499 (see photo) about half way to Clair Camp. If you take the side trail visible on Topo maps, you can bypass the washout and come in just before Clair Camp. Got stopped by impassable snow before reaching Rita's cabin after successfully plowing through the fresh snow for a mile or two. Snow was about 6-8" deep on the trail. Running out of daylight had to turn around and head back home. First part of the trail before the washout was generally very easy, not requiring 4WD until hitting the washout area with the springs. The bypass seemed freshly graded but featured steep climbs and descents along the knife edge of the ridge and also a few sketchy shelf sections before rejoining the main trail.
Trail Review: Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail - Brent Christensen
Trail Review: Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail - Brent Christensen
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500
Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 05/12/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Really run, really challenging. Lots of steep uphill and the road was mostly loose, sharp rock. Lots of wild ass, really cool seeing them ramble around. Stone Cabin was really nice... even though there was a mouse (that I affectionately named Carlos) gnawing on my mattress while I tried to sleep. I just bought a new rig.. it's a 2009 F150 4x4. When I was out there, I was still in my 4Runner. I'm betting that the wider vehicle would really add some excitement, especially near Chicken Rock. NOTE: the bridge just down the hill from Chicken Rock has been replaced by a new steel one. I saw photos of the old one, this is way nicer.
Trail Review: Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail - Wayaway
Trail Review: Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail - Wayaway
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Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 03/16/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Took this trail counterclockwise a lot of fun. Went over Rogers Pass area looked like we were one of the first ones with small patches of snow with no tracks.
Trail Review: Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail - Stanley Weaver
Trail Review: Pleasant Canyon Loop Trail - Stanley Weaver
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Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/19/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

We made it until checkpoint 6, then the trail was impassable due to ice. Overall was very fun! We took a LR3, Range Rover L322 Jeep 392, Lexus Gx and a Sequoia
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 12/12/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Just completed the loop what breathtaking views to be seen and there's a lot of history there. we started at Ballarat witch keep the steep uphill claims to a minimum but when it came to doing the chicken rock obstacle running it clockwise made the drivers view look like you where on the edge of the cliff i highly recommend a spotter for that particular area.

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