Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
3,543.00 ft (1,079.91 m)
Trail type
16.70 mi (26.88 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Note: This route is for experienced hikers only. Much of this route is not on a trail, and requires navigation through washes and dry falls (though rope is not necessary). 

Desert Hound Peak is a difficult 16.7-mile hike in the southern region of the Black Mountains of Death Valley National Park. While many approach the peak from Ashford Canyon and Ashford Peak to the west, this route begins near Jubilee Pass and approaches via Virgin Spring Canyon (the primitive road is 0.4 miles west of Jubilee Pass). Vehicles with high clearance can opt to drive the dirt road for another 1.4 miles after turning off Highway 178, but this stretch makes for a pleasant walk. 

Virgin Spring Canyon is known for an interesting geological mystery known as the Amargosa Chaos, described in Digonnet’s guidebook (highly recommended for lovers of Death Valley) as “a rare phenomenon characterized by highly disordered blocks ranging in size from tens of feet to a good fraction of a mile.” This area has some notably incredible geology, evidenced in the very colorful Calico Peaks and Salsberry Peak just to the east of Virgin Spring Canyon. If interested, a little bit of pre-trip geological research may enhance the interest of this particular adventure. 

The Desert Hound Trail itself is intact in some places, and missing in others. While the lack of vegetation makes for enjoyable scrambling and off-trail navigation, it is extremely important to have good maps of the area in order not to get side-tracked by the many forking canyons (Virgin Spring Canyon continues all the way to Greenwater Valley for those seeking a fantastic extended backpacking opportunity). 

The trail leads to Desert Hound Mine, once the site of a brief gold mining operation. The history of the mine has some fascinating characters involved, including the infamous Death Valley Scotty. The route up to Desert Hound Peak follows the north shoulder for an easy scramble. The views from the peak are some of the best in the area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Scenic vistas. Desert isolation.


Exposed to elements. Hot. No water.

Trailhead Elevation

1,289.00 ft (392.89 m)

Highest point

4,273.00 ft (1,302.41 m)


Backcountry camping
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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