Telescope Peak from Mahogany Flats Trailhead

I first became interested in Telescope Peak when I saw it from Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, back in February of 2009. I later ran across a list of “ultra prominent peaks” that gave further inspiration to reach the summit. I have no intention of trying to attain the summits of all of the ultra prominent peaks (5000’ or more prominence) but it is always good to have lists to draw from, at least for me.

Telescope Peak (11,049') from Badwater Basin (-282') - February 2009

Telescope is a fairly remote and not frequently visited peak despite being the highest point in a national park. On my ascent I saw no one other that a group of three on their way down from the trailhead. On the way there you pass some very well preserved charcoal kilns that were completed in 1877. These structures would have little chance of survival in the NW but in the arid eastern California high desert that have stood up well. The going gets fairly rough beyond this point. Be prepared to walk the last mile and a half if you don’t have a vehicle with clearance or you don’t want to beat up your own car... thanks for the Jeep Liberty Budget.

Charcoal kilns on the way to the trailhead, circa 1877

The trailhead for Telescope Peak is at the Mahogany Flats Campground at an elevation of ca.8,200’. From the trailhead it is about 7 miles to the summit. Most of the elevation gain is at the beginning and end of the journey. The mid section is rather flat, you actually lose a bit of elevation in this section as you traverse around Bennett Peak. You get your first view of Telescope fairly early on as you cross the eastern ridge of Rogers Peak... it looks closer than it is.

The first view of the summit from the trail... it looks closer than it is

There is nothing too spectacular on the summit other than the view down to Badwater Basin and the fact that it is 40 degrees cooler than down in the valleys. This is a good acclimation hike if you are planning something bigger in the area...

Finally, the summit

Badwater Basin from Telescope Peak