Panamint Runs

Please note: These run descriptions are subject to change. Sign-ups will be on a first-come, first-served basis when you arrive at base camp.

Panamint Valley Days Runs

Click on each run name for a full description.
  • Backdoor to Darwin

    The Gear Grinders lost a most beloved member this year. Jim Kenney came up with the concept for this run because of his love of history and each year the run was different. This year it will be led by their dear friends, tailed by his daughter & wife in Rubiblue.

    Join us as we follow part of the old toll road from Darwin to Death Valley. We will pass many old mining areas and structures, as well as unusual geologic formations, a cemetery and the old town of Darwin. The terrain will include dirt, sand, gravel, sharp rocks, some climbing, side-hill roads and some steep walled canyons. This is an all vehicle run, with vehicles needing good off-road tires (for the rocks) and some clearance. This trip will last most of the day, so bring lunch, camera, FLASHLIGHT!, sturdy shoes, sunscreen and layered clothing. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Centennial Flat

    The run will depart PVD Headquarters on Saturday, November 13 via Slate Range Road, Panamint Valley Road, CA-190, Saline Valley Road to Boxcar Cabin.  We will cross Centennial Flat to the cabin near Lower Centennial Springs, then to Darwin, China Garden Springs, and Darwin Falls.  Participants may choose to hike to Darwin Falls (1 mile each way) or return to PVD Headquarters (all day run).  This run will traverse public roads to Boxcar Cabin, then BLM land until Darwin, then DVNP land to Darwin Falls.  This run is suitable for all vehicles with 4WD and high clearance. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Cummins Cutoff/Defense Mine

    Vehicles MUST HAVE a LIFT, 35” tires, & 1 LOCKER and you may incur BODY DAMAGE. Due to summer storms & lack of trail use, some of the obstacles have become more challenging. NO STOCK SUV’s. We will be taking the most challenging obstacles up the canyons to the Defense Mine. Undercarriage and body damage is possible. Trail leader has final approval of vehicles for participation, keeping the best interest of the entire group in mind. This run follows what’s left of the Minnietta Mine Road enroot to Stone Canyon until its closure just below Waterfall #1. The route provides several rocky and scenic miles with the challenges of Waterfall “Zero” and Cummins Cutoff (which is easier than in past years). Just below Waterfall #1, we will make a sharp right onto the Defense Mine Road, which is scenic, historical and pretty challenging. It will be the decision of the run leader whether to continue up to the Defense Mine. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Defense Mine

    Vehicles MUST HAVE a LIFT, at least 33” tires, & 1 LOCKER. Due to summer storms & lack of trail use, some of the obstacles have become more challenging. NO STOCK SUV’s. Trail leader has final approval of vehicles for participation, keeping the best interest of the entire group in mind. Participants will have ample time to complete mine exploration before leaving, giving them the option to visit Lookout City and/or other nearby routes.  Please remember that mine exploration is optional and at your own risk and that this was an active mine operation, so, PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS. Bring flashlights. CHILDREN MUST BE WATCHED CLOSELY AT ALL TIMES & NO PETS IN THE MINE. From the entrance, it is an easy standup walk of about 300’ to the first “explosive storage room” (empty except for work benches) and the first “ore chute” is beyond that. For the adventurous, there is a second entrance/exit climbing several well-built wooden ladders to several landings, where you change to the next ladder. (It is somewhat intimidating to stand at the bottom and look up at these ladders). Caution should be exercised if you explore the mine and extreme caution should be used near the ore car platforms outside the main entrance. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT MINE EXPLORATION IS OPTIONAL AND AT YOUR OWN RISK.  Anyone not doing the mine exploration is free to take the short route back to camp (we’ll point it out on the way in) and also may have ample time to explore nearby Lookout City if so desire. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Fish Canyon and Coyote Canyon

    Both Fish Canyon and the upper end of Coyote now require a stock Wrangler or equivalent, at least in ground clearance.  STOCK SUV’s NOT RECOMMENED. This historic run will have a few rocky sections and loose dirt areas. Expect great views from the top of the Slate Range.

    SIDE TRIP to HISTORIC MARKER:  This short part of the trail will require vehicles to have at least 31” tires and at least 1 locker. Those not going will have to relax and take in the views. Once the group is back together again, you will continue on down into Panamint Valley, crossing the southern end of the dry lake, then turn north toward Ballarat.

    COYOTE CANYON
    The trail is fairly technical with rocks and such most of the way and is fairly slow speed with NO hard climbs or off camber. Although rocky, it would not be "rock crawling”, just slow. This is a fairly short canyon with a great variety of different rocks (sizes and colors) and geologic features (including a lot of "stretched rock" formations). There is a bunker, cabin and mining debris at the end, and a hike up to the mine if you are so inclined. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Coyote Canyon

    The trail is fairly technical with rocks and such most of the way and is fairly slow speed with NO hard climbs or off camber. Although rocky, it would not be "rock crawling”, just slow. This is a fairly short canyon with a great variety of different rocks (sizes and colors) and geologic features (including a lot of "stretched rock" formations). There is a bunker, cabin and mining debris at the end, and a hike up to the mine if you are so inclined. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Goler Wash / Mengle Pass / Striped Butte Valley / Barker Ranch

    This is an all-wheel-base, full day run with lots of history thrown in. Due to some erosion of the trail, your MUST have at least 31” tires and a traction aiding devise of some kind in the rear, such as a limited slip diff, a selectable locking diff, or a full locked diff.  The first stop will be at Ballarat Ghost Town to air down where the new owners have invited you to use their newly renovated bathrooms (please leave a tip).. Then it’s on to Goler Wash where you will pass by Newman’s Cabin (you may visit on the way out), over Mengle Pass into Death Valley where you will see Russell’s Camp, Greater View Cabin, Striped Butte and the Geology Cabin. If time allows, there could be a side trip to Barker Ranch, where the Manson Family lived and Manson hid.  If you don’t wish to visit the Barker Ranch, you can continue on the way you came in, going back out the mouth of Goler Wash. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Historic Run #1: Slate Range, Riley, Copper King, Panamint Crater & Snow Canyon

    This is an all-vehicle run with 31” tires and a bit of a lift or skid plates a recommended.  The roads tend to change at the whim of Mother Nature, so there’s always a few rocky sections and loose dirt areas.  We’ll see several different historic mining eras and structures in addition to different natural and geological zones. We’ll see a Chinese camp and roads; early era Riley with stone structures; the Panamint Crater; an onyx mine site; an adorable cabin up a tight canyon; and then on to Snow Canyon where the Golden Lady and the St. George mines have extensive workings to see and there will be some opportunities to hike and explore.

    Depending on the time, you could then decide whether to continue on the run into Snow Canyon, or to turn east to the Nadeau Shotgun Trail, then turn north to the Minnietta Road and meet the Lookout City Sunset group at the base of Thompson Canyon. However, make sure you have read the vehicle requirements for the Lookout City Sunset run. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Historic Run #2: Mining Camps

    This is an all-vehicle run with 31” tires and a bit of a lift or skid plates recommended. We will travel to Thompson Canyon, crossing the Nadeau Shotgun Road, visit the cabins & explore the area. Then return to the Shotgun Road, traveling bits & pieces of it north and into Osborn Canyon and the cabin. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Isham Canyon

    Isham has been severely washed out over the past years and this has significantly increased the technical nature of the run. It is more like a Hammers trail now. Given the current condition of the trail, the run is limited to 12 vehicles, not including trail leads. MUST HAVE AT LEAST 35” tires, front and rear lockers, winch, body armor/rock sliders. Additional useful items: Spares parts as applicable to your vehicle (i.e., u-joints, rear driveshaft, etc.), tire repair kit/spare tire. Long arm lifts will work far better than short arm. Longer wheelbase vehicles and rigs with hard tops are likely to have a tight fit in some places and those drivers MUST BE AWARE that some form of body damage is probable. All drivers/participants are expected to assist each other at obstacles with spotting and recovery (winching/tow straps/stacking rocks). Bring gloves, good footwear. Expect this to be a longish day, depending on the number of vehicles. Bring lunch as we will be out at least until mid-afternoon. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Upper Jackpot Canyon

    This is an all-wheel-base run. MUST HAVE at least 33” tires and a limited slip diff recommended.  This is a fairly technical run with an experienced driver recommended. We will be running an old, non-maintained mining road that contains sharp rocks, gravel, sand, steep climbs and descents, narrow roadways, rain run-off, road cuts & ruts, shelf roads and some side hills.  This run is not for the faint of heart! We will go up a rocky wash before climbing up the canyon. There are some great views of Panamint Valley, great geology, and diverse terrain, finally arriving at an old mine. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

  • Lookout City Sunset Run

    This run is limited to the first 15 vehicles that sign up. Vehicles MUST HAVE a LIFT, 33” tires, and LIMITED SLIP. Due to summer storms & lack of trail use, some of the obstacles have become more challenging. NO STOCK SUV’s. Trail leader has final approval of vehicles for participation. This scenic run will take you to the Lookout City ruins high atop the Argus Range for a spectacular sunset view of the Panamint Range and Valley, but first you have to get up the Minnietta Mine Road and Stone Canyon.  Cold temperatures can be expected, so bring your warm clothes. BRING SNACKS & CHAIRS.

  • Pleasant Canyon to South Park Canyon

    This is an all-wheel-base run, however, stock vehicles MUST HAVE at least 31” tires and a limited slip diff. We will explore an old mining operation and the trail has a spectacular view of Death Valley from the top. You can expect this to be an all-day run. BRING LUNCH, CHAIRS, & at least a HALF TANK OF GAS & SPARE GAS.

  • Jail Canyon - Optional Sunday Run

    This is a TRAIL BREAKING run on Sunday. MUST HAVE at least  35” tires and a 1 locker, skid plates and decent ground clearance. Rocky trail going across the alluvial fan, then no trail after dropping down into the wash. At this point, it is 1.7 miles of rocks to the mining works and the cabins at Jail Camp. If time allows there is an optional short hike to the Corona mine, if desired. BRING LUNCH & CHAIRS.

Vehicle Requirements

Vehicle requirements for each trail will be on the sign-up board in camp. Trail leader has final approval of vehicles for participation, keeping the best interest of the entire group in mind.

Thank you to our trail crew!

Mary Grimsley, Trail Coordinator, Gear Grinders 4WD Club

What a great weekend we had out at Panamint Valley Days. The weather was just amazing, including Saturday night at the drawing where we didn’t freeze our fannies off.

First, I want to thank ALL of the Trail Bosses and Trail Crew (and those who stepped up in camp & volunteered) for their help in leading the various trails:

  • Russ Chung, Jeep Expeditions                                 
  • Jay Behr & Joe Torres, San Diego 4-Wheelers
  • Terry Burton & Dirk Starksen, High Desert 4 Wheelers
  • David Hess, Bakersfield Trailblazers
  • Tom Severin, 4x4 Training
  • Buck Breazile and KC Dewar who volunteered in camp
  • And members of the Gear Grinders: George Graham, Jerry Grimsley, BJ Holden, Donna Kenney, Mark Kuttor, Gary Luckeroth, Bill Martin, Bob McGowan, Tom Perkins, Stefanie Ramirez, Randy Schortzmann, Byron Self, Kenny Semones, Matt Shaw, Earl Wicker and Prospective Members: Kim Hansing and Ed Rockdale.

It was a large turn-out for registration this year and the trails were busy, whether it was an official run or others just out wheeling.  It did, however, make for some congestion on trails such as the Defense and the Cummins/Defense on Friday, especially when you have a breakdown or the larger vehicles that need spotting thru the tight spots. So the Cummins run caught up to the Defense run at Fall Zero. To try to fix the problem, the Defense run went to Lookout for lunch, while the Cummins run went through the Cutoff and up to the Defense Mine. Unfortunately, there were already 2 groups at the mine. Unfortunately the Defense run never made it to the mine and the Cummins run never made it to Lookout.

On to the Sunday run up Pleasant Canyon which was pretty uneventful up to Rita’s Cabin. We had a young man, only 16 years old, driving his Dad’s JK and we were in the twistys headed for Rogers Pass. The lead group had just arrived when we received a call from our Tail Gunner that we had a broken vehicle. The driver had hit a tree with his right front tire and broke off the sector shaft right below the steering box. The guys all figured out what needed to be done, we got him turned around and towed him all the way back down Pleasant Canyon to Ballarat. I would like to thank the following for helping out with this endeavor:

  • Kevin & Kristy Spencer were the tow vehicle;
  • Dan & Cher Howard were the brakes; and
  • Moral support were provided by Billy Cooper and Neil & Shawn Olsen.

Jerry & I were in front running interference for oncoming traffic while, our Tail Gunner, Randy & Karen Schortzmann, led the rest of the stranded participants back down Pleasant Canyon and back to camp. Randy picked up their pick-up truck and headed into Ridgecrest to pick up their trailer, so they could meet us in Ballarat to pick up the wounded vehicle, and returned right before dusk. We soon had the Jeep loaded, people & large dog dispersed into various vehicles, taking the JK owner back to camp to get his RV and Randy headed for Ridgecrest with the JK. It is now repaired.

Thank you one and all for making this a successful event.

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