Last Chance Mountains Trailheads
Revised Jan 2009 - please send updates to the webmaster
Starting just north of the center of Big Pine, turn east toward Westgard Pass on Hwy 168 (waypoint 395JWP). Then turn southeast on Death Valley Road (at waypoint 168DVR) which is paved at this point. Follow it past the turnoff to Waucoba (waypoint DVRWSR - the Waucoba-Saline Rd) to Eureka Valley where the pavement ends (at waypoint EURVAL). A good dirt road crosses the valley and climbs into Hanging Rock Canyon where rough pavement starts again (waypoint HANGRK). The road changes to dirt again at the top of the hill, near the mines at waypoint LCMINE, and gets rougher.
The dirt road through the Last Change Range is quite rough but suitable for all vehicles. This is the infamous Death Valley Road, which goes past the Sandy Point trailhead (waypoint SANDTH) and down to Crankshaft Junction (waypoint CRANKJ) on its way to Stovepipe Wells.
The best Sandy Point trailhead isn't really a parking spot or even a pullout... it's just a place where the road is a little wider and a little straighter than average, so it's not so dangerous to pull over. From the trailhead, just west of a small bump, walk east and then southeast to enter a drainage which goes east to the north ridge. For off-the-road parking, you can drive over a berm on the north side of the road just west of SANDTH.
Continue past the Sandy Point trailhead (waypoint SANDTH) and down to Crankshaft Junction (waypoint CRANKJ), where you turn left on a 4WD road. The only significant turn after that is about three quarters of a mile up a good road where you turn left (at waypoint LAST01). Here the road climbs more steeply on a much worse road (loose large gravel with ruts in places). 2WD sedans can go part way up this road, but it's taking a big risk.
In 2008 I parked my passenger car at a staked junction (waypoint LAST2W) where there's room for one or two cars. A good place to camp, but not as good as the 4WD trailhead (waypoint LASTTH). Walking up the road adds just over a mile each way and about 800' of gain.
Between these two trailheads, the road climbs more steeply and I worried about losing traction or high-centering my car. There is no good place to turn around, and the road cuts across a side-hill with high-clearance washouts before reaching the ruins of what the DPS guide says is a metal building. Just follow the road to the end, where it enters a narrow canyon. 50 yards up the canyon you'll see a mine shaft (or two). Beyond that is the actual Last Chance Spring which was flowing in December of a dry year.