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No. 15 Whitecap Mountain (6,120') California

This guide is based on a Sage article by Reinhold Janson. It combines Whitecap Mountain and McCloud Peak.

Topo Map: Haiwee Reservoir 15
Coordinates: unknown
Trip Stats: 4 miles r.t., 1500', Class 2


These peaks can be done either from the parking area on Cactus Flat, or from the south.

For Cactus Flat, leave Hwy 395 in the township blip of Grant and take the signed Cactus Flat Road east (across from the Olancha Fire Station). Paved at first, it turns to excellent dirt past the ranches, as it crosses inlet of the North Haiwee Reservoir. Continue southeast on this excellent dirt road until you reach Cactus Flat (4500'). At the first prominent junction on the Flat, keep right and go south about 2.5 miles, then turn right again on a fainter fork and go south another 2 miles to park (5000'). If heading downhill, you have gone too far. 2WD should be able to get to this roadhead.

For the alternative southern approach, drive 4 miles east from Hwy 395 on the paved Gill Station Coso Road. Turn north on a graded dirt road 2.3 miles to a northwest turnoff (4244') to park at an abandoned pumice mine.


From Cactus Flat, hike east up steep rocky slopes to the summit of McCloud Pk. Continue south 1.5 miles on the undulating ridge to Whitecap Mtn. This peak is identified as "Whitecap Mtn?" in Wheelock's guide, due to its light-colored summit rock. But the register indicates a variety of other names including "Anjoev PV, "Kegebojo PV, and "Biphase PV. Whatever the name, it is the highest in the immediate area and provides nice views. Descend any ridge or gully northwest back to Cactus Flat.

From the southern parking area, The short spur is good dirt at the outset. Hike to the obvious south ridge of Whitecap Pk. Continue north to McCloud Pk. Reclimb Whitecap, or cross the saddle east to return to the mine.


The Coso Range Wilderness was created by the California Desert Protection Act of 1994. It is situated at the southeast comer of Owens Valley, north and west of the China Lake Naval Weapons Center in Inyo County. This tranquil region is rarely visited. Encountering others in this wilderness is unusual. Apart from the mining roads that skirt its fringes, it remains largely untouched by man. Andy Smatko, Gordon MacLeod, and Barbara Lilley are among the few names in the summit registers.

Near the southern approach are interesting ancient Indian pictographs. Drive 1.3 miles beyond the spur to the roadhead mine, to an active pumice mine at the boundary of NWC. At the mine entrance is a dirt road leading north along the fence to a parking area. A brief trail wends to an enormous, picturesque boulder. The many clear images are under an overhang and are therefore amazingly well-preserved. Obsidian flakes, the remnants of Indian tool-making, are scattered at the base of the boulder. The site is indicated on the 15 min topo (as Indian Petroglyphs). Please respect the site for the enjoyment of others.

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Updated: February 9, 2012