Happy Canyon Loop
TRAILHEAD: Drive approximately 19 miles north from
the Inyo County line marker on Trona Road (Highway
178) and turn right (east) onto Ballarat Road. Pass through Ballarat,
continuing straight by the store towards Pleasant
Canyon. It is probably advisable that the bypass to the north of Pleasant
Canyon be taken to avoid the dense vegetation which often clogs the lower
road, but either road is likely to work. Claire Camp will be reached at
approximately six miles from Ballarat, the World Beater Cabin is
about an additional mile, and the road to the Porter Mine is
another 1.3 miles. Turn north and drive an additional 1.3 miles to the
saddle between Pleasant Canyon and Happy Canyon (approximately 9.6 miles from Ballarat).
There is room for a few cars to park at the saddle. This is the trailhead
for this hike. The road leading to the Porter Mine takes off to the north just after the Stone
Corral and very near to the DVNP sign. A second road heads north
towards the Cooper Mine about two hundred yards beyond the road to the
DISTANCE: 8 miles
GAIN/LOSS: approximately 2400 feet
HIGH POINT: 7100 feet
LOW POINT: 5610 feet
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Spring and Autumn
This lollipop-loop hike passes through a burn area which at one time was a
dense and healthy pinyon forest before the big fire in July 2000. It also
takes the hiker by an interesting old, abandoned cabin, a mine tunnel, some
mine prospects, a couple mine camps, and through healthy pinyon forest.
Visting some of the mine prospects will add a mile or so extra to the hike
and an extra four-hundred feet of elevation gain/loss.
Scarlet Milkvetch (click to enlarge)
Happy Canyon (October 2013, September 2011, Summer 2006)
HIKE DIRECTIONS: From the trailhead follow the trail to the north,
dropping steeply into Happy Canyon. Once the wash is reached follow it to
the northwest down to the Weston Cabin. After passing the Weston Cabin
turn northeast and follow the canyon about two or three hundred yards to the
mouth of the middle fork of Happy Canyon. Turn east and hike up the middle
fork of the canyon. Continue up the middle fork for about two miles,
stopping to inspect various features mentioned below. Eventually a fork in the road is reached.
Take the southeast fork and climb to the saddle between the middle and south forks of
From this saddle, the most direct route to take back to the
trailhead is to hike south and southwest along the drainage below the saddle to
the bottom of the south fork of Happy Canyon. From there follow the stem of
the lollipop back to the trailhead. Alternately a faint donkey
path heads southeast from the saddle as mentioned below.
A. There are three trails which begin at the trailhead. One is a road which
heads east towards the Porter Mine. This is a privately owned mine camp. A
locked gate blocks the road part way to the cabin. Another trail heads northwest
along the side of the mountain. I don't know if it actually goes to a
destination of any interest. The trail used for the loop heads north and
descends steepy into Happy Canyon.
B. Weston Cabin - This cabin was abandoned after the big fire which occured
during July 2000. There are still fruit trees around the cabin which
is deteriorating, but not in terrible shape.
C. Spring - Thick vegetation around the spring is easily bypassed at the
mouth of the middle fork of Happy Canyon.
D. Cement Slab - Roads lead north and south at this point. The road to the
north is only a hundred yards long and leads to a mine camp area. The road
to the south leads to prospects. Incidentlly, about half way between the
spring and this point are the rock walls of an old cabin. Look on the north
side of the road for this site.
E. Prospects - A road to the south climbs up to an area with several
prospects, providing a nice view of the middle fork of the canyon.|
F. Mine Tunnel - A mine tunnel is located at the top of the road which leads to the saddle between
the south fork and middle fork of Happy Canyon. A shortcut to this saddle is
shown on the map in orange.
The quickest route to take in order to return to the trailhead from point F
is to follow the gully down to the bottom of the south fork of the canyon.
This route is shown in orange heading to the southwest from point F. The
red line heading southeast from point F is longer, but loses less elevation
as it circumnavigates the top of the south fork of the canyon and then
climbs back to the trailhead.
Click map to enlarge in new window!