Mengel Pass

4.9/5 (14 reviews)
Ballarat, California (Inyo County)
Last Updated: 03/15/2019
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Trail Information

Highlights

Mengel Pass is a popular trail within Death Valley National Park as it connects Panamint Valley on the west end of Death Valley to beautiful Butte Valley on the east side. Along the trail are an overlook of Butte Valley and Striped Butte plus the gravesite of Carl Mengel, a historic prospector from the early 20th century. The trail is no easy feat with its constant changing terrain and difficulty. Some days the trail is a mild path while other days, it can damage any vehicle that attempts the crossing. Due to the changing landscape of the obstacles, Mengel Pass is a fun and challenging run for all comers!

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Trail Reviews

4.9/5 (14 reviews)
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 01/22/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier

We ran this trail on Saturday 1/22/2022. It’s open. We left Ballarat at 8am stopping by Barker Ranch and arriving at Geologist Cabin around 10:30am. We reviewed the trail and watched YouTube videos prior to the trip and was concern about some of the obstacles. After running it, it felt much easier than we thought. It was a blast! We arrived at West Side Road at noon and decided to run Steel Pass and Dedeckera Canyon the following day. It was a fun 36hr run, 650 miles round trip with 220+ miles off road. Both the Range Rover and Jeep did extremely well and had no problems.
Trail Review: Mengel Pass - Jon Lam
Trail Review: Mengel Pass - Jon Lam
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Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/05/2021
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Mengel Pass is a lot of fun for a properly-equipped 4WD. I went in a convoy that even included some AWD vehicles (several Subarus). For the AWD it was much more difficult, but we still made it through without too many problems. The #5 waypoint probably needs some more detail; it's got one very off-camber section that benefits from a spotter and sliders before you get to the drop-offs. After waypoint #5 there's also a few more rocky sections that we spotted on and where I scraped my sliders. Waypoint #2 itself wasn't much of an issue; yes there's a bypass, but what isn't mentioned is that between #2 and #3 you have to carefully navigate a wash full of boulders. I found that part to be just as difficult as the bypass (I didn't try the hard section, but others in my group seemed to get through without too much of a problem). Between #1 and #2 there's a gatekeeper obstacle that a few of our AWD vehicles had trouble with. It's a short climb up a steep rock that requires you straddle the rut to avoid tipping. One of our AWD vehicles fell into the rut and ended up doing a little damage. I think most 4WD will have no problem with this, but if you aren't experienced you might get into a bad situation. Lastly, while not technically part of Mengel Pass, if you exit north by way of Butte Valley trail be wary: our convoy drove 30-35mph over the trail which is nothing but 4-8" rocks and we ended up with 2 vehicles slicing sidewalls on 2 tires on each of them. Take it slowly and watch tire placement. Overall, I think the actual difficulty of 4-5 is correct, but I would say the trail itself is more difficult than the descriptions imply, so for that reason I am going to rate it as "harder." I would be satisfied if a little more detail was added about some of the difficult sections.
Trail Review: Mengel Pass - Braden
Trail Review: Mengel Pass - Braden
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Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/02/2021
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

I was with the below reviewer Braden on this trip and 20 4WDs and 3 other AWDs. I actually organized and led this convoy and I can honestly say that I couldn't have done it without trailsoffroad.com. I find their trail info to be consistent and accurate! I voted that this trail is spot on, which is consistent with the difficulty ratings given by a trail like Fins N things. If this trail is rated a level 4, then Fins N Things is a 4.5 imo :P I would rate this trail Difficult/Extreme for AWD
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/19/2021

After exploring Goler Wash, Lotus Mine, and Barker Ranch, we started up the trail to Mengel Pass at about 3 pm. It was a pretty quick ride to the top and over, and we were at the Geologists Cabin by 4:30 pm which was unoccupied so we set up camp. We were in a Tacoma, a 4Runner, an FJ80, and a Jeep Rubicon, all with small suspension lifts and larger tires. The rocky sections over the pass were fun to navigate, and you definitely had to be at full attention to keep from regretting your neglect later. I am quite sure all these vehicles at stock could handle the trail, but it could possibly be a little unnerving.
Trail Review: Mengel Pass - Todd Mabey
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 12/05/2020
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This trail had everything and was probably my favorite of all the trails we took on our DV overland trip. It has everything... technical terrain, great campsites, and beautiful vistas! There was so much on this trail I had to break it up into 2 videos. Oh and my buddy almost rolled his rare VW Doka!? Not for the faint of heart... we saw stock f150 4x4 left on the trail with a broken axle on the 2nd vid. 1st vid is below and here is the link for the 2nd vid: https://youtu.be/FdXhvWzr5PE

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