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Northern Panamint Region

Charcoal Kilns/Mahogany Flat

NP8. Location/Access:
(36o 14.796N; 117o 04.795W) The charcoal kilns are located 7.0 miles east of the Wildrose ranger station and campground which are near the junction of the Wildrose Road and the Charcoal Kilns Road. This junction is 30.5 miles from Stovepipe Wells or 9.7 miles from the Wildrose Roads junction with the Trona-Panamint Springs Road. The junction to the Charcoal Kilns and Mahogany Flat is well-marked; but because of vegetation, a tight turn and poor road conditions below the junction, it is not always obvious if one is not paying close attention. The road from the ranger station to the charcoal kilns is paved most of the way and then gives way to well-graded but steep gravel. Beyond the charcoal kilns, the road becomes steeper, narrower and is composed of loose gravel. Most vehicles can make it to the charcoal kilns but travel to Mahogany Flat requires high clearance and often four-wheel-drive. It is not unusual for the road beyond the kilns to be closed by snow in winter. Mahogany Flat lies 1.5 miles beyond the kilns.

Best Time: Afternoon, all year.

Geology: With the exception of a few outcrops of Mesozoic granite outcropping on the left side of the valley as you ascend the alluvium, the rocks of the mountainsides are all within the Proterozoic Pahrump Group (mostly Kingston Peak) and then the late Proterozoic Noonday formation near the top (Walker, et. Al., 2002). The charcoal kilns were built in the late 1800s to convert the local pinyon-juniper forest into charcoal for use as fuel in mines across the Panamint Valley to the west. From here there is a good view west to the crest of the High Sierra. At Mahogany Flat (8,133ft) is the trailhead to Telescope Peak (11,049ft), truly a worthwhile 14-mile round trip hike (there is no water). Mahogany Flat is the highest elevation one can drive to in Death Valley National Park and Telescope Peak is the highest point in the park. The view from the top is worth it. The best time to make the hike would be in late fall before the first snow falls and the air is clear. The trail makes a nice summer hike but the atmosphere is often hazy. If you walk several hundred yards up the trail, there is a very good view of central Death Valley below.

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