The Racetrack to Ubehebe Peak Professional Review and Guide
"This rigorous but rewarding day hike traces the route of an old mining trail to a remote desert peak in the northern reaches of Death Valley National Park. Ubehebe Peak, rising to a modest 5,678 feet at the southern end of the remote Last Chance Range, is an obscure summit that escapes the notice of many visitors traveling to this isolated corner of the park, most of whom make the long, rough journey to contemplate the mysterious trails left behind by the sliding rocks of the Racetrack. At 3,700 feet, the Racetrack is one of the highest elevation dry lakes in the park. Its shimmering white surface is highlighted at its northern end by the Grandstand, a cluster of gray boulders buried deeply in lakebed sediments. But despite the interpretive sign opposite the Grandstand, this is not the best spot on the playa to see evidence of the “racing” rocks. After climbing Ubehebe Peak, consider driving 2 miles south to the southern end of the playa and walking eastward toward the foot of prominent Peak 4560. Rocks eroded from this steep mountain, including some large boulders, have left many noticeable tracks on the playa surface.The phenomenon is not fully understood, but apparently the rocks move when the lakebed is slickened by abundant rainfall and swept by very strong winds. Hikers on the summit of Ubehebe Peak are treated to an aerial-like view of the Racetrack and panoramic vistas ranging from lofty Sierra Nevada peaks to sunken desert flats. Spring wildflowers and shrubs from two distinct life zones are well represented along the old mining trail that climbs to the crest of the range.To attain the summit of Ubehebe Peak, a brief Class 2 to Class 3 scramble is necessary, but hikers who choose to forgo the scramble will still enjoy broad vistas from the open crest."