Panamint City

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Panamint City

Postby CactusHugger » Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:20 am

How hard is the hike up to Panamint City? I've seen pictures and and I've heard stories about it, but is it worth the effort? And what time of year would be best?
:4x4:
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Re: Panamint City

Postby James Sel » Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:48 pm

CactusHugger wrote:How hard is the hike up to Panamint City? I've seen pictures and and I've heard stories about it, but is it worth the effort? And what time of year would be best?
:4x4:


Hot with rattle snakes. Uphill, then up a few waterfalls and more up hill. It kinda isn't bad the last mile. It is hard for a hiker and very hard or impossible for a non-hiker. For a frequent hiker not so bad. This is without a pack.
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Re: Panamint City

Postby mrfish » Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:30 pm

A few of my friends drove up there in the 1970s. The falls were buried under gravel and 4-wheel drive wasn't even necessary all the way up the canyon. It's too bad that things were allowed to deteriorate to the point that the BLM wound up closing the route. I hear the road above the falls is now completely grown over with willows for over a mile and the only way up, other than with a helicopter, is to walk. This effectively places Panamint City off-limits to most of the population. I'd like to have had the chance to explore Surprise Canyon, but I reckon that'll never happen.
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Re: Panamint City

Postby cactuspete » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:26 am

James Sel wrote:
CactusHugger wrote:How hard is the hike up to Panamint City? I've seen pictures and and I've heard stories about it, but is it worth the effort? And what time of year would be best?
:4x4:


Hot with rattle snakes. Uphill, then up a few waterfalls and more up hill. It kinda isn't bad the last mile. It is hard for a hiker and very hard or impossible for a non-hiker. For a frequent hiker not so bad. This is without a pack.

"Hot with rattlesnakes" might be a bit of an exaggeration. I have seen one rattlesnake below the falls on a hike I did a couple years ago in April. The falls are a lot of fun, but finding a way through the overgrown willows and grapevines above the falls is a little tedious. I also did the hike while the road was still open several years ago and it was much easier back then. But if you're in average shape you should be able to reach Panamint City in 3 or 4 hours. It's all uphill and the elevation gain is formidable. Avoid hot days since the hike starts at a pretty low elevation. Although the water you encounter along the hike MIGHT be drinkable, it would probably be smarter to bring your own since you never know if there might be a problem with the water in the canyon. BTW, Surprise Canyon is a couple miles north of Ballarat in case you're not sure how to get there.
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Re: Panamint City

Postby wildrose » Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:23 am

mrfish wrote:A few of my friends drove up there in the 1970s. The falls were buried under gravel and 4-wheel drive wasn't even necessary all the way up the canyon. It's too bad that things were allowed to deteriorate to the point that the BLM wound up closing the route. I hear the road above the falls is now completely grown over with willows for over a mile and the only way up, other than with a helicopter, is to walk. This effectively places Panamint City off-limits to most of the population. I'd like to have had the chance to explore Surprise Canyon, but I reckon that'll never happen.

At one point it was also possible to drive up Happy Canyon quite a ways also, but that canyon is now blocked too. I've heard that it was also possible to ride a motorcycle from Happy Canyon over the ridge and into Surprise Canyon at a point several miles up each canyon. Does anyone know the name Pete Canning (not sure of the spelling)? I believe he was the person that I heard about who was able to ride a motorcycle between the two canyons.
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Re: Panamint City

Postby BallaratBob » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:40 am

Main cabin in Panamint City
Quick tour of the main cabin at Panamint City. I think this is the one they call the Panamint Hilton. There's also another cabin called The Castle about a quarter mile away.
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Re: Panamint City

Postby sandman » Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:12 am

Panamint City History
There are lots of websites that have a basic account of the history of Panamint City. Here's one version I found after googling around a little bit:
Founded in 1873-74, Panamint City had many mills, saloons, stores, a red light district, a cemetery - all built along the uppermost end of the Surprise Canyon. Panamint City was regarded as a "bad and wicked" town, with Death Valley on one end of town and the Panamint Mountains on the other end. Due to the constant hijacking of the ore wagon, the miners soon cast the silver into one large ingot that was too big and heavy to be stolen. Then it hit. On July 24, 1876, a flash flood roared down the canyon and washed nearly the entire town away leaving nothing worth saving. This spelled the end of the town. Some people say they got what they deserved for their wickedness. The County of Inyo used to maintain the road to Panamint City until about 1983, when a terriffic series of cloudbursts completely washed the canyon out to bedrock.
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Re: Panamint City

Postby sandshark » Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:37 am

I came across some info about cabins up at Panamint City. It sounds like a strenuous hike to get there, but it would be nice to have cabins to stay the night in waiting at the end of the hike. Does anyone know anything about the current condition of the cabins?
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Re: Panamint City

Postby wildbill » Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:36 am

sandshark wrote:I came across some info about cabins up at Panamint City. It sounds like a strenuous hike to get there, but it would be nice to have cabins to stay the night in waiting at the end of the hike. Does anyone know anything about the current condition of the cabins?

You never know. All the cabins could be destroyed at any time by fire, vandals, or the elements. You have to walk up there and find out for yourself. As for the reliability of reports, you never know. Some people try to make things sound worse than they really are in order to discourage others from hiking up the canyon and others make it sound like Panamint City is some kind of paradise, which it isn't. It's an interesting historical site with a lot of broken down mining crap. If you're into that sort of thing you might find the hike up there worth the effort, otherwise maybe not.
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Re: Panamint City

Postby James Sel » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:42 pm

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