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#31664 - 06/05/13 07:00 AM Road to white mountain trailhead
bay_area_hikers Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 12
Loc: CA
Hi, We are planning to go to white mountain this coming weekend as a training hike for Whitney later in June.

I read through some sites and forums and got conflicting opinions about the road to the White mountain trailhead.

I have a 2WD sedan, will it be possible/advisable to take it on that road? Or should I rent a SUV for that part? I know its an unpaved road, but I have driven on unpaved roads in grand canyon area in a sedan and found them to be ok for the road.
Is the road that bad?

I spoke with rangers and they told that the road is clear to the trailhead. So there is no snow patches on the road at least.

Als, how realistic is the danger from marmots chewing through the wiring of the car under the hood?

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#31666 - 06/05/13 08:36 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Randy Gibbon Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Orange County, California
I am also going up next Friday and would like any information. Also, any issues with camping at the trail head? I am doing Whitney in July and Langley in August and was told White Mtn. is a good test for altitude issues.I have hiked all Southern CA peaks and need to up the challenge.

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#31668 - 06/05/13 05:01 PM Re: Road to White Mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7527
Loc: Fresno, CA
bay_area_hikers wrote:
> I read through some sites and forums and got conflicting opinions about the road to the White mountain trailhead.

I have a 2WD sedan, will it be possible/advisable to take it on that road?


Two things about the road:

1. It can get that washboard problem that every dirt road can get. It just depends on how long it has been since they ran a grader over it. When I drive roads like that, I try to find the smoothest track, often the very edge. If it is has lots of washboard trouble, driving slower is about the only thing you can do. And it doesn't make that much difference whether you are driving a sedan or SUV.

2. There are some sharp rock fragments in the road in places that can puncture a tire. Make SURE you are carrying a spare and it is properly inflated. I've driven the road a few times and have never had that trouble, but others have reported getting a flat.

Here's another thread from this forum with good info:
Driving to White Mountain Peak for Whitney training hike

> Also, how realistic is the danger from marmots chewing through the wiring of the car under the hood?

That was a problem years ago at Mineral King, but I don't think many have had the trouble anywhere else.

Edit: Checking the other thread above, someone posted a horror story about marmots on a web page specifically about marmots. It is pretty odd that it is the only place it has been reported. Please call the White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop, (760) 873-2500, and ask about the marmots. I'd like to know what they tell you. (I have an idea: I think the marmots are salt starved. They chewed my hiking poles in Sequoia N.P. once. I wonder if someone carried a chunk of block salt for cattle, if that would divert them.) That "report" just doesn't make sense, because UC people have been parking cars there for years, without any special precautions. ...You might ask for the name/phone number of the U.C. caretaker and give that person a call, too.

Randy Gibbon wrote:
> I am also going up next Friday and would like any information. Also, any issues with camping at the trail head?

People overnight at the "trail head" all the time. The trail head is actually just a parking area with a pit toilet, by the closed gate that leads up to the University of Calif Barcroft Lab facility, which is another mile up the road. To get to White Mountain, you just walk the road to the lab, and continue past on the jeep road to the summit.

There is no water available anywhere in the White Mountains, so be sure to haul what you need in your car.

BY the way, to both of you: It would be great if you would take some pictures to post here, of the parking area, the road, the lab, the trail, and the summit. We haven't had a White Mountain trip report lately.

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#31671 - 06/05/13 08:17 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: Randy Gibbon]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
White is a wonderful way to experience high altitude. Definitely the easiest 14er in California, once you navigate the road.

Folks usually camp at the Barcroft gate (trailhead) which is very high up (high enough to give me sleep apnea/periodic breathing at night... nothing a little bit of Diamox couldn't solve). Probably good to get some acclimatization before sleeping that high. You could spend a night at Grandview Campground (which is a bit lower), then day hike at the Ancient Bristlecone Forest, then spend the following night at the trailhead, for example.

You don't need a permit to hike White, but you are supposed to have a California fire permit if you plan to use your stove at the TH. Yeah, I know,it is a stove, not an open fire. But that was the rule last time I checked.

It is pretty bare up there. Though there is a pit toilet. Bring your own water, etc.

Sunsets are nice....

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#31677 - 06/06/13 07:11 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
bay_area_hikers Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 12
Loc: CA
Thanks for the inputs.
I will definitely post pictures and report once I am back..

Is the road too steep in sections which a 2WD sedan cant climb over? I am prepared to drive at snails pace to not cause any flats. But is there any section of the road which is nearly impossible for 2WD sedan to go through (due to ground clearance etc)? Rangers said road is completely clear of snow, so that shouldnt be any issue as such..

Any thoughts on that?

I saw a Toyota sedan in Steve C's pics so it looks possible in a sedan, but just confirming....

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#31679 - 06/06/13 07:46 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
I doubt steepness (or traction) currently is the issue (no snow or ice, from the report you got). For us, the concern was rocks/obstacles in the road, and pits/gullies, particularly at one turn. It is a dirt jeep road that sees some big weather. So what is nice to have is clearance (more than 4wd) once the snow clears.

We did it in a Volvo station wagon, slowly and carefully, in August 2010. We also saw everything from Honda Civics to true SUVs (it was open house at the lab).

My understanding, which could be faulty, is that the lab (rather than the county) maintains the road and that maintenance/regrading is required from time to time, particularly after the winter. So the fact that the road was relatively driveable in a sedan in August 2010, for example, does not mean it is as drivable now. That is why it is probably best to check with the lab.

Btw, while we drove this road in a station wagon, we kind of wished we had more clearance in a few places, as the drive would have been easier. We got through, as did all the other vehicles we saw, but still.

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#31680 - 06/06/13 08:20 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: Akichow]
Randy Gibbon Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Orange County, California
Thank-you to all for the information. Downloaded fire permit and have hiked Mt. Baldy, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto in the past month or so in preparation. I heard the road is better than trying Holy Jim in Orange County. Will take lots of pictures.
Peace

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#31681 - 06/06/13 08:29 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: Randy Gibbon]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
The last time up, which was at least 5 years ago, there was chicken wire at the trailhead. At least someone thought their undercarriage should be protected. I've never had a problem, I've only stayed there once overnight. I find Grandview Campground preferable.

As Steve said the road condition depends on the when it been scraped. I've been up it in an Explorer and T-Bird, you go a lot slower in the 'bird.

Sharp rocks are an issue; therefore, I would not recommend going up there with tires on their last 1/4" of tread and having a good spare. With that said, the only place I remember having bad washboarding is above the Patriarch Grove turn off, where the road is its steepest.

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#31685 - 06/06/13 02:16 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Here is the link to the latest info on White Mtn, etc:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5404138.pdf

Notice the recommendation to use high clearance vehicles. I have driven the White Mtn road many, many times in the past 35 years, and would never attempt it in a small sedan, like my Honda Civic, but have no problems driving it in my Jeep Liberty. The condition of the road can vary considerably month to month. If the lab has been using trucks to transport equipment and supplies to Barcroft Station, the road surface can be damaged by the heavy loads. I heartily recommend that you rent a 4X4 SUV! Call White Mtn. station before setting out. Just a little friendly advice from a local...

The views from White Mountain Peak are stunning and well worth the hike. You might be able to visit the lab if they are not too busy. One of the newer projects there is a study of the background radiation from the "Big Bang." http://www.wmrs.edu/projects/astro-UCSB/default.htm

Link to Barcroft Station: http://www.wmrs.edu/facilities/bar/default.htm

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#31688 - 06/06/13 04:11 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7527
Loc: Fresno, CA
bay_area_hikers wrote:
> I saw a Toyota sedan in Steve C's pics so it looks possible in a sedan, but just confirming....

That car got stranded at the end of the season -- some guy drove up, not paying attention to the weather, and had to be rescued, due to being snowed-in. His car spent the winter there.

But as others have said, many regular sedans make the trip.

Here's the fateful car:

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#31690 - 06/06/13 05:22 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: Steve C]
HyltonHiker Offline


Registered: 03/17/11
Posts: 17
Loc: Lake Isabella, CA,USA
I just came from there last weekend and you got a total of 16 miles of dirt road driving even though there is a short paved section before Patriarch Grove turnoff then turns dirt again and makes a steep and very washboarded climb, but the whole dirt road is that way. There is no snow on the road just a few patches off to the side as you get to the TH. I went very slow and it took me an hour and a half to get to the TH and I have a high clearance 2wd ford ranger so if your in a low clearance car it will take at least that long once you hit dirt which is right after you pass the Schulman Grove turnoff.

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#31692 - 06/06/13 05:58 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: HyltonHiker]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Y'all shoudl just do it the old-fashioned way...

_________________________
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Think outside the Zone.

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#31693 - 06/06/13 06:13 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: MooseTracks]
HyltonHiker Offline


Registered: 03/17/11
Posts: 17
Loc: Lake Isabella, CA,USA
I thought about riding my Mtn Bike from that guard shack to the TH but will have to train here in my local mtns for a big ride like that. Nice Schwinn by the way!

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#31750 - 06/11/13 05:10 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
bay_area_hikers Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 12
Loc: CA
Completed White Mountain peak hike on Saturday.

We stayed at Bishop, CA. Started from hotel around 5.30 in morning, took good 2 hrs to reach the locked gate trailhead near Barcroft lab.

Some notes about the unpaved road:
1. I took my 2WD sedan over it. Although it is possible to go there in a sedan, I regretted my decision to take sedan over that road. Last 15 odd miles took us little more than an hr to drive, whereas couple of SUVs were just tearing away at 50mph on same road.

2. It will be apt to say you wont need 4x4 on that road, but a high ground clearance vehicle is recommended.

3. If you still decide to take 2wd sedan over that road, keep sufficient time in hand (at least an hr each way) for the unpaved section.

4. There are a lot of marmots at the trailhead, but luckily they didnt do any harm to car.

5. The unpaved road visually looks very smooth, but it has that washboard efect for about 70% of the length at least.

6. The 4 mile unpaved section after patriarch grove is especially bad. It climbs a lot in a very short distance, and is very very rough. YMMV if you find it graded recently.

Other notes about hike:
1. Trail is very well maintained right till the top.

2. There are little snow patches on the trail right near the summit, but they will melt away in a week ir so. There is already a path made around those patches, so its very easy to navigate there.

3. There is absolutely no water or any shaded portion on the entire trail. Make sure you carry enough fluids and sunscreen.

Other than that, just enjoy the hike smile

Please let me know if you need any info about any specific section, and I will be happy to assist as much as I can.

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#31751 - 06/11/13 07:15 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Good report. I'm glad you took your time, and didn't tear he bottom out of your car...LOL. Yes, the last 15 miles can be a little radical for a low-clearance vehicle.

Did you get a chance to visit Barcroft Lab or the Patriarch Grove?


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#31756 - 06/11/13 08:23 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Randy Gibbon Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Orange County, California
Thank-you for the information. I will be heading up Friday and plan on sleeping at the gate. I am driving a KIA Rondo which I have driven up Holy Jim in Orange County and up to Fish Creek in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Any specifics on the very very rough part after Patriarch Grove? Any information would be great.
Thanks

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#31757 - 06/11/13 08:45 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7527
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: bay_area_hikers
Some notes about the unpaved road:
1. I took my 2WD sedan over it. Although it is possible to go there in a sedan, I regretted my decision to take sedan over that road. Last 15 odd miles took us little more than an hr to drive, whereas couple of SUVs were just tearing away at 50mph on same road.


Well, they were wearing out their steering linkages and suspension parts, and you weren't. Anybody can drive fast over the washboard roads, but it isn't good for the car. I've driven 4WD high clearance vehicles over the road, and figure it takes about an hour for the last 20 miles.

I have a theory that if everyone with 4wd would use the 4wd mode, it would help prevent the washboard effect. I think it is minor slippage and a slight bounce by hundreds of 2wd cars going over the road that creates the washboard.

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#31808 - 06/13/13 11:39 AM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
bay_area_hikers Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 12
Loc: CA
Quote:
Any specifics on the very very rough part after Patriarch Grove? Any information would be great.


The road is very rough. I think when we went it was not graded for a lot of days, so there were big rocks in the middle of the road, plus the road has a considerable incline, so its kinda difficult to navigate the climb alongwith taking precaution to not bottom out your car on the big sharp stones in middle of the road. Any car with a lot of low end torque would be great here...unfortunately, my car doesnt have that luxury smile So we ended up bottoming out a couple of times...

We did not have time to visit any of the bristlecone pine groves, as we had to reach back to bay area on the same night..

I didnt visit the lab from inside, but had a short conversation with one of the employees there..also saw a lot of sheep laugh

Quote:
I am driving a KIA Rondo

For instance, on the particular day that we went, I saw following cars on the dirt road:
Honda Civic
Toyota Venza
Toyota Camry (brand spanking new smile )
Ford Fiesta
Porsche Cayenne (with relatively low profile tires..not sure if he made it back safe..)
Honda Pilot 4WD
Kia Sportage AWD (was tearing away at 50mph on dirt road...most probably rented car smile )
Chevy Trailblazer
Lexus RX300

may be missing a couple more SUVs


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#31809 - 06/13/13 12:00 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
bay_area_hikers Offline


Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 12
Loc: CA
Quote:
I have a theory that if everyone with 4wd would use the 4wd mode, it would help prevent the washboard effect. I think it is minor slippage and a slight bounce by hundreds of 2wd cars going over the road that creates the washboard.


Could be true. I suspect the machines that are used for grading the road also contribute ot it littlebit

The machines :


And the beautiful white mountain peak :


Trail with some bikers


Snow patches near the summit

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#31811 - 06/13/13 12:27 PM Re: Road to white mountain trailhead [Re: bay_area_hikers]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7527
Loc: Fresno, CA
b-a-h:   Good pictures.   thanks

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