Beveridge Canyon Trail
Inyo Mountains Wilderness
People venturing into the Inyo Mountains Wilderness should proceed cautiously and not overextend their supplies or capabilities. Day hikers and backpackers must carefully adhere to all wildland backcountry safety measures and initially explore short distances until they become personally familiar with trail alignments and water sources before getting into the more isolated portions of the wilderness. Most of these trails have not been maintained or signed, and are not easy to use or follow. On some segments, it is necessary to much through dense brush or cross steep slopes covered with loose rock. Anyone considering using these trails must approach it as a rugged backcountry exploration with steep elevation gains and losses where no other people will be encountered and no assistance is readily available.
Beveridge Canyon is in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness, the site of the historic Beveridge Mining District. From the 1860's through the 1930's, mining occurred in this isolated canyon on the east side of the Inyo Mountain Range. The canyon is very inaccessible and in a very isolated and remote area of the Mojave Desert.
Most of the historic mining activity in the Beveridge Mining district occurred along a 2-mile linear segment of Beveridge Canyon from an elevation of 6,000 feet down to 4,500 feet. Today, there are the remains of various small pieces of mining equipment, several small mining operations, and the partial remains of several small habitation rock structures along the 2 miles of canyon bottom. There is a fairly intact historic cabin (Frenchy's Cabin) and a spring at 6,100 feet, and a fairly well defined trail which extends down to the canyon bottom to a mill site at 5,100 feet.
At 5,400 feet, a small stream begins and flows all the way down to the mouth of Beveridge Canyon at 1,800 feet in Saline Valley. At 5,100 feet, there are the remains of a 5-stamp mill, partial remains of several small cabins, and a 25-mile long aerial tram. Below this, the canyon brush is extremely thick and impenetrable to all but the most tenacious explorers down to 2,800 feet. There is another small cabin, aerial tram and other mining structures at 4,500 feet, but this is extremely difficult to reach because of the thick brush below 5,100 feet. There are also three high waterfalls in the lower canyon between 4,100 feet and 2,200 feet, which require ropes to negotiate when traversing the lower portion of the canyon bottom.
There are four historic mining trails which can be used to access Beveridge Canyon from five different directions. These are the Burgess Mine Trail, Snowflake Mine Trail, French Spring Trail and the Lonesome Miner Trail from either the north or south. These trails are generally hard to follow and along some stretches are completely slid out or overgrown.
The existence of most of these trails was unknown to hikers until an avid hiker contact the Ridgecrest BLM office in 1989 offering to initiate work to explore the Inyos and stabilize historic cabins. A volunteer group formed with the BLM called "Friends of the Inyo Mountains Wilderness". The volunteers of this group completed their first project in 1989 by stabilizing the Beveridge Ridge cabin and descending Beveridge Canyon down to Saline Valley. Since 1989, the "Friends of the Inyo Mountains Wilderness" have completed over 45 projects to obtain wilderness information, monitor wilderness values, stabilize cabins, inventory the historic trails and complete some minor trail maintenance and signing work in the 205,000 acre Inyo Mountains Wilderness.
To date, a total of 16 Inyo trails covering 123 miles have been inventoried and mapped. These trails are generally built with grades not exceeding 15 degrees - probably the maximum grade for burros to use when heavily loaded with mining equipment - and thus ideal for backpackers with heavy loads.
The following is information regarding the four trails which provide access to Beveridge Canyon. The following 7.5" topographic maps are needed when using these trails: New York Butte, Craig Canyon and Union Wash.
BURGESS MINE TRAIL: This 7-mile long trail starts at 9,700 feet on the Inyo Crest. The first 3 miles of the trail are shown on the New York Butte map extending north from the Burgess Mine and ending a short distance beyond Goat Springs. The trail continues on by following the canyon bottom down this drainage and reaches Frenchy's cabin at 6,200 feet in the bottom of Beveridge Canyon.
FRENCH SPRING TRAIL: This 8-mile long trail starts at 4,600 feet at the end of the French Spring Road in Owens Valley. The first 4 miles are shown on the New York Butte map and ending at 9,600 feet elevation at Forgotten Pass. From the pass, the trail continues eastward down the canyon bottom to reach Frenchy's cabin at 6,200 feet.
LONESOME MINER TRAIL: The Lonesome Miner Trail is at the heart of the Inyo Mountains historic trail system and connects many of the Inyo Mountains historic trails and canyons. It is a continual trail which traverses north to south through the recently designated Inyo Mountains Wilderness. The trail extends from a trailhead at 4,900 feet near Reward in the Owens Valley south for 40 miles to its southern terminus trailhead at 1,800 feet at Hunter Canyon in Saline Valley. The central portion of the trail provides access to Beveridge Canyon from the south and north.
The Lonesome Miner Trail descends into Beveridge Canyon on the south from the Hunter ridgeline at 8,600 feet and leads to Frenchy's cabin. From Frenchy's cabin, the trail goes down the bottom of Beveridge Canyon for a mile to the millsite at 5,100 feet. At the millsite, the trail turns northward and ascends a ridge to the Beveridge Ridge cabin at 8,200 feet.
SNOWFLAKE MINE TRAIL: The 7-mile Snowflake Trail is one of the best known and most used trails in the Inyo Mountains. It starts from a trailhead near the end of the Snowflake Talc Mine at 3,300 feet, climbs up the Beveridge Ridge to 6,700 feet and then drops down to the Beveridge millsite at 5,100 feet. The first 5 miles of this trail is shown on the New York Butte 7.5" topographic map. The trailhead is reached by driving a steep 4x4 road for 2 1/2 miles towards the Snowflake mine. The trail begins about 1/4 of a mile before the road ends at the mine. This road is frequently washed out which requires starting from the bottom of the Beveridge ridgeline in Saline Valley at 1,800 feet and walking up the road to reach the trailhead.
From the road at 3,300 feet, the trail heads directly west and switch backs directly up the Beveridge ridge to a broad lateral shoulder at 5,000 feet. This segment is well ducked and marked regularly with small red circular paint marks. On the prominent ridgeline shoulder are some old mining prospects. The trail continues to climb steeply to 6,700 feet with great views of Keynot Canyon to the north and Beveridge Canyon to the south. At about 6,700 feet, the trail traverses westward around the south side of Beveridge ridge. After about 2 miles, it then switchbacks directly down to the Beveridge millsite at 5,100 feet where it intersects the Lonesome Miner Trail. At this point is the lower terminus of a 1/4-mile long tramline, 5-stamp millsite, and remains of numerous historic features - many covered by brush in the canyon bottom. Down the canyon about 1/4 of a mile is a sheet metal cabin, aerial tram and more historic features. The trip down canyon is extremely difficult due to dense and thorny brush.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: To get to this area, you will be traveling over public lands, and the BLM encourages all recreational users and travelers, not only within the southern California area, but throughout the west to use a propylene glycol based antifreeze/coolant in their touring and recreation vehicles. Proven safer, it will have minimal impacts on both the wildlife and the environment should a leak occur. Please help BLM protect our desert wildlife and their fragile desert environment.
During established hunting seasons, should you be hunting in this area, BLM is encouraging all hunters and recreational shooters to use lead free non-toxic shot and bullets. Proven safer, nontoxic shot significantly reduces the risks of accidental lead poisoning of wildlife and will have minimal impacts on the environment.