Description - This wilderness area encompasses a large portion of the Inyo Mountains, which rises to 11,000 feet at Keynot Peak, and separates the Owens Valley on the west and Saline Valley on the east. Because of the sheer ruggedness of the terrain, these mountains have maintained most of their pristine character and beauty. The vegetation includes creosote, shadscale scrub, big sagebrush, lush riparian areas in most of the canyons on the eastern slope. Pinyon-juniper woodland, bristlecone and limber pine on the higher elevations. Wildlife in the area are desert bighorn sheep and Inyo Mountain salamander.
- People venturing into the Inyo Mountains Wilderness should proceed cautiously and not overextend their supplies or capabilities. Day hikers and backpackers must carefully adhere to all wildland backcountry safety measures and initially explore short distances until they become personally familiar with trail alignments and water sources before getting into the more isolated portions of this wilderness. Most of these trails have not been maintained or signed, and are not easy to use or follow. On some segments, it is necessary to push through dense brush or cross steep slopes covered with loose rock. Anyone considering using these trails must approach it as a rugged backcountry exploration with steep elevation gains and losses where no other people will be encountered and no assistance is readily available.
Beveridge Canyon in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness is the site of the historic Beveridge Mining District. From the 1860s through the 1930s, mining occurred in this isolated canyon on the east side of the Inyo Mountain Range. The canyon is very inaccessible, and in a very isolated and remote area of the Mojave desert.
Most of the historic mining activity in the Beveridge Mining District occurred along a 2.0 mile linear segment of Beveridge Canyon from an elevation of 6,000 feet down to 4,500 feet. Today, there are the remains of various small pieces of mining equipment, several small mining operations, and the partial remains of several small habitation rock structures along the 2.0 miles of canyon bottom. There is a fairly intact historic cabin (Frenchy's cabin) and spring at 6,100 feet, and a fairly well defined trail, which extends down to the canyon bottom to a mill site at 5,100 feet.
At 5,400 feet, a small stream begins and flows all the way down to the mouth of Beveridge Canyon at 1,800 feet in Saline Valley. At 5,100 feet, there are the remains of a 5-stamp mill, partial remains of several small cabins, and a 25.0-mile long aerial tram. Below this, the canyon brush is extremely thick and impenetrable to all but the most tenacious explorers down to 2,800 feet. There is another small cabin, aerial tram and other mining structures at 4,500 feet, but this is extremely difficult to reach because of the thick brush below 5,100 feet. There are also three high waterfalls in the lower canyon between 4,100 feet and 2,200 feet, which require ropes to negotiate when traversing the lower portion of the canyon bottom.
There are four historic mining trails that can be used to access Beveridge Canyon from five different directions. These are the Burgess Mine Trail, Snowflake Mine Trail, French Spring Trail and the Lonesome Miner Trail from either the north or south. These trails are generally hard to follow and along some stretches are completely slid out or overgrown.
The existence of most of these trails was unknown to hikers until Brian Webb contacted Steve Smith at BLM in 1989 offering to initiate work to explore the Inyos and stabilize historic cabins. A volunteer group was formed with the BLM called "Friends of the Inyo Mountain Wilderness." The volunteers of this group completed their first project in 1989 by stabilizing the Beveridge Ridge cabin and descending Beveridge Canyon down to Saline Valley. While volunteers have done some limited maintenance work and signing, it will be necessary to complete a wilderness management plan to determine which, if any, trails should be adequately signed for first time visitors and brought up to better standards. If you are interested in reviewing proposals for managing the Inyo Mountains Wilderness, contact Steve Smith at the Ridgecrest Field Office. Names can be placed on our mailing list to notify volunteers when we initiate development of the Inyo Mountains Wilderness Plan. Since 1989, the "Friends of the Inyo Mountains Wilderness" have completed over 45 projects to obtain wilderness information, monitor wilderness values, stabilize cabins, inventory the historic trails and done some minor trail maintenance and signing work in the 205,000 acre Inyo Mountains Wilderness.
To date, a total of 16 Inyo trails covering 123 miles have been inventoried and mapped. These trails are generally built with grades not exceeding 15 degrees - probably the maximum grade for burros to use when heavily loaded with mining equipment - and thus ideal for backpackers with heavy loads.
Recreation - Hunting, hiking, photography and backpacking are a few of the recreational opportunities visitors can enjoy.
Climate - Days in south-central California are typically clear with less than 25 percent humidity. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high of 85 degrees F and a low of 50 degrees F respectively. Winter brings cooler days, around 60 degrees F, and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot, over 100 degrees F during the day and not cooling much below 75 degrees F until the early morning.
Located in Inyo County, 5.0 miles east of Lone Pine, California, access the southern boundary by way of the San Lucas Canyon or Cerro Gordo roads. The west and northern reaches via the Lone Pine-Owenyo and Mazourka Canyon Roads. The east access is via Saline Valley Road.