White Mountain Peak
By: Sara Wyrens
The Sunday of every Labor Day weekend is the one day of the year that the Barcraft Research Station is open to the public where hikers can visit and talk to the various researchers that are working on projects. The center opens at 7:00 a.m. and has available complimentary homemade cookies, juice and coffee available for everyone. One advantage of hiking on this special day of the year is that hikers can park at the center which is two miles closer than usual as the gate will be open for this one day event. Two years ago when we visited the center, there was a bat expert, anthropologist and many medical school students and scientists to talk with and discuss their projects. To get to the station, there is some dirt road driving which amounts to 23 miles. This is a decent road, high clearance is not necessary but it will be a bit of a washboard ride part of the way. White Mountain peak climb from Barcroft Center is not considered strenuous especially on this one Sunday of the year being approx 10 miles ii and 2,000 gain. Every other day of the year it is 14 miles rt.
While you're there for the peak climb, it is worth while to visit the Schulman Grove Visitor Center for hiking and exploration. There is a Ranger talk at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and a charge of $2.00 per person or $5.00 per vehicle for visiting the Center. The trails around the area add up to about 5.5 miles round trip with 1,000 ft gain. Also, I suggest visiting Patriarch Grove (no charge). This area has several short hikes through a bristlecone grove containing the Patriarch Tree, the world's largest bristlecone pine. A high clearance vehicle is suggested and actually, I had to shift into 4WD at one point. In the evenings, there is a fireside Ranger talk at 8:00 p.m. at Grandview Campground which is several miles up White Mountain Road from Hwy 168 at the little amphitheater. To camp at Grandview it is a first come, first serve basis. There is also camping available at Cedar Hats Group Camping which is off of Hwy 168 by reservation only.
Directions from State Highway 395 are: Just north of Big Pine, watch for the White Mtn Bristol Cone turn off to the right - Highway 168; continue on approximately 15 miles east and start looking for the White Mtn Road. Please be advised that everyone must bring their own water for the weekend.
The nights and early mornings can be quite cold this time of year. Two years ago at this time the whether was a picture perfect sunny and warm day. Last year it actually snowed near the top of the peak, so you never know. For those who have climbed the peak to "The Great White", it is worth while to go back on a Labor Day weekend and experience the extra perks mentioned above. However, it may be crowded so plan you camping accommodations in advance.
The White Mtn. Ranger Station number is: (760) 8732500
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