On June 9-10, 2018, my friend Tobin and I hiked to Wahguyhe Peak and Grapevine Peak in the Grapevine Mountains. We were surprised on that trip to find that the weather was quite pleasant and even cool despite being early-to-mid June, especially in the mornings when starting out our hikes and in the evenings at camp. We also really enjoyed camping at the informal campground located on Phinney Canyon Road at 6,700 feet in elevation. Camping in the forest surrounded by abundant trees with birds all around and having a great view of Wahguyhe Peak make this perhaps my favorite informal campground in Death Valley. As I previously noted in my Wahguyhe Peak hiking report, one of the things that makes this area so special is that five major hikes start here. The five hikes (in order of popularity) are Grapevine Peak, Wahguyhe Peak, Mount Palmer, Upper Moonlight Canyon, and Coyote BM. In addition, other hikes to minor summits such as Vine BM and T91 (the CA-NV Boundary Monument peak) start nearby. After remembering how enjoyable the hikes to Wahguyhe Peak and Grapevine Peak were, as well as our stay at the campground, one year later I decided to return to the area to carry out a solo hike to the summit of Coyote BM (seen in the logo image above as viewed from Grapevine Peak). At 8,570 feet in elevation, Coyote BM is only 58 feet lower than Wahguyhe Peak and 168 feet lower than Grapevine Peak (which is the highest point in the range). So, Coyote BM stands out as quite a major summit and I was expecting to find good views at the top. The day before doing the hike, I drove from my house to the Nevada Triangle (a 10-hour drive one-way) and set up camp once again up Phinney Canyon at the informal campground. There were no other people anywhere but I hadn't been expecting to see anyone. Mid-June is a bit late in the season to be doing hikes in Death Valley, and Furnace Creek was experiencing intense heat of around 115F. My only real concern with doing this particular hike was that the starting point would be at a lower elevation than the hikes we had done the previous year. While the hikes for both Wahguyhe and Grapevine began right at the campground at 6,700 feet, the hike for Coyote BM was going to begin at 5,750 feet. So that was nearly 1,000 feet in elevation lower, which would mean additional heat would be a factor. As far as route planning, there were no hiking reports online for Coyote BM to provide suggested routes. The four options I came up with all involved following a standard wash and ridge route to the summit and included a visit to neighboring peak 8572T. But then, there were the following variations: (1) turn around and follow the same route back (shortest distance - about 9 miles RT), (2) loop around to the north to the minor summit labeled 8443 and visit Willow Spring (which is just outside of the DVNP boundary), (3) loop around to the south by way of the ridge which connects Coyote BM to Grapevine Peak (the hardest option by far), or (4) drop into the canyon beneath 8572T and search for mining relics and remnants of the old road. During the actual hike, I decided to go with option #4. And it proved to be a good decision.
After a peaceful night's sleep (with the sounds of the creatures of the forest), I woke up at 5:20am and enjoyed seeing sunrise over camp. It was incredibly beautiful and I had to take some time to admire it. After packing up camp, I drove back down the road and parked at the starting point. The hike begins at a Wilderness Restoration sign which has been installed to close off an old mining road at 5,750 feet in elevation. At 6:30am it was nice and cool out, and I briefly contemplated taking my jacket along on the hike before wisely leaving it in the truck. It was really exciting to finally begin the hike to Coyote BM after many years of planning and putting off the hike. Being that I was on a solo hike, I also decided to film a video of the hiking experience. As the hike started out, the first thing I realized was that this was going to be another outstanding wildflower experience. I seem to have a lot of those in Death Valley. There was a large colorful display of Giant Four O'Clock wildflowers close to the trailhead. There was also Wild Heliotrope, Sulphur Buckwheat, Desert Paintbrush, and Desert Globemallow all found within a short distance into the hike. Upon reaching the first rise, the old road abruptly disappeared and I wouldn't find it again for the next couple of hours. At this spot, there was an incredible view looking around where I was able to spot Wahguyhe Peak, Grapevine Peak, Coyote BM, and Vine BM all at the same time (see Sample Photo #1 below). From here, there is a brief stretch of tricky navigation. You have to drop down into a large wash, take that down a short distance to the east, and then turn northwest into the main wash of what could be called Coyote BM Canyon. From the parking area to where the ridge climb begins (most of which is spent in this next main wash) is about 2.5 miles in length with a gradual elevation gain of 650 feet. Once you are in the main wash, the bush dodging begins. It's hard to take more than a few steps forward without having to take a few steps to the side to avoid large bushes. This makes progress fairly slow except for times when you can pick up traces of the old road or faint burro trails. For me, the hike back was a lot easier because I was able to find those spots much more frequently. Highlights during this portion of the hike include watching Coyote BM's summit and ridgeline gradually draw closer, passing by some areas of scenic giant boulders, and checking out interesting side canyon scenery. But for me, the main highlight was watching the playful birds and seeing the pretty wildflowers. Birds that I spotted included Black-throated sparrows, Clay-colored sparrows, and Rock wrens. The Clay-colored sparrows were very noisy and would fly ahead of me in the wash from tree to tree. Wildflowers through this section included colorful and tall displays of Spiny Hopsage, Desert Sage, Desert Larkspur, and Rosy Penstemon. Over time, the wash splits and curves toward the base of Coyote BM. I attained the ridge at the first practical spot and began slowly climbing up it. The ridge climb portion of the hike is a little less than 2 miles in length with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet. For the most part, the ridge was quite steep but manageable. Early on, there is a point marked on the topo map at 6717 which provides for the first amazing panoramic. And wildflowers were in full bloom along the ridgeline, including numerous cactus blooms and a large display of Arizona Lupine. Also, the trees become larger and more numerous the higher that you climb. As far as obstacles, the route is fairly straightforward. So it would be really hard to become confused or lost on the route (which can happen on the Grapevine Peak hike). But there are some rock outcroppings and one area of giant rock crags. So these must be successfully navigated through and around. Then, as the summit is neared, a section of loose scree must be hiked up. For anyone who has hiked Wahguyhe Peak, this will no doubt give them flashbacks of that nightmare scree climb. But the good news is that this scree section is passed through fairly quickly and then you are suddenly standing on the summit. Arriving on the summit, I found the benchmark to be missing and there was no summit registry. The primary views are of the three nearby major Grapevine Mountain peaks -- Wahguyhe Peak, Mount Palmer, and Grapevine Peak (see Sample Photo #2 below). But two other great distant views are of Telescope Peak and White Mountain Peak. After taking some photos of the views, I continued along the ridge to 8572T, which is 2 feet higher than Coyote BM. From 8572T, there was a stunning view looking back toward Coyote BM which makes it appear as if the summit rises up toward the clouds (see Sample Photo #3 below). There were also views of Peak 8460 and 7932T, which are both northern Grapevine summits that I would like to reach someday. And there was a nice view looking down into Backthrust Canyon. To top everything off, Mount Whitney can be seen from 8572T some 70 air miles away. From here, I briefly followed the ridge down which eventually connects Coyote BM to Grapevine Peak. After reaching a low spot, I dropped off to the east and worked my way down a challenging gully which was steep with lots of heavy tree growth. After a while, the gully transitioned into the main canyon and widened. I soon began finding mining relics including a large pot, drinking utensils, old cans, sheets of rusting metal, and some pieces of wood which could have been part of an old shelter. It was quite interesting to work my way through the canyon and every once in a while encounter another area with yet more mining relics. The canyon finally led me to the spot where I had first climbed the ridge many hours earlier and I continued hiking until I reached my vehicle. It was quite hot in the late afternoon, probably around 85F, and I had nearly run out of water (after starting the hike with 1 1/2 gallons of water and drinks). My route had been a 10-mile loop hike with an elevation gain of 2,750 feet (plus some additional cumulative gain due to minor ridge bumps and the extension to 8572T). To watch the video that I filmed of this hike, click here
. My hike took place on June 15, 2019.