Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,965.00 ft (903.73 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
6.70 mi (10.78 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.

The Jeffrey Mine, more commonly known as the Champion Spark Plug Mine, sits high in the White Mountains overlooking Inyo County along a rural stretch of Highway 6 northeast of the town of Bishop.

From the years 1919 to 1945, the mine - set an elevation of about 9000' - produced andalusite, a compound used in the insulators of spark plugs. Since that time, the mine and lower camp, Black Eagle Camp set at about 7550', have not only remained relatively well-preserved, but have been actively cared for by hikers and volunteers. What remains is an interesting mining ghost camp, with trails veering off in several directions that are great for exploring, if you can reach them.

The hike begins at a trailhead where Jeffrey Canyon meets the base of the mountains. However the road to the trailhead requires high clearance 4WD vehicles to reach. And as each burst of water causes more erosion to the treacherous dirt road in, access has become significantly harder over the years. Anything short of a vehicle with these capabilities will require parking further down the canyon and tacking on the additional distance and elevation gain.

The trail itself follows a rocky course up the canyon. At times, it feels like the trail is lost, requiring a slower and more attentive uphill slog.

After about 1.5 miles, the trail reaches Black Eagle Camp. Here hikers can look around and find benches looking out over the valley below, a seasonal fresh water seep spring, buildings that have been converted to a museum of found materials in the area. The hike to reach the camp is hard, and mostly on a path completely exposed to the sun. Black Eagle Camp is interesting enough to make a destination in itself.

Proceeding from here, the path becomes significantly steeper, and over the course of two miles climbs about 1500'  - much of which is up scree piles - to the upper camp and mine. Reaching the camp is hard and unforgiving, however exploring the mine ruins and what remains of the upper camp at an elevation where the air is much cooler and more still than in the valley below. From the upper mine, retrace your route back to the bottom.

The trail can be hard to follow at times. Expect to make a few wrong turns.

There are no amenities of any kind anywhere along the hike, and the route to the trailhead is unsigned, up a road that becomes increasingly rough the nearer to the trailhead it gets. Be prepared with navigation, and also with tacking up up to an extra 1.75 miles each direction just to reach the trailhead if you have a passenger car.

Groceries, water and amenities are located in Bishop about 20 minutes south.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Historic camp. Wide views.

Cons

Hard to reach trailhead even with AWD vehicle.

Trailhead Elevation

5,860.00 ft (1,786.13 m)

Highest point

8,685.00 ft (2,647.19 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Big vistas
Geologically significant
Mine

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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