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Visited: July 2, 2016
Description: Located west of Lone Pine, Alabama Hills is the gateway to Mt Whitney. Beautiful rock formations and arches can be found all over these hills. This area is also a popular area to film movies and television shows.
Length: 1-3 miles
Elevation: 50-100 ft. (Varies depending on what you decide to climb or hike to)
Duration: 1-2 hour
Terrain: Dirt trail
Parking: Lot or roadside
Pets: Pet friendly
Best time to go: Mornings and late afternoons, before it gets too hot
Bring: Camera, Water
Home to dozens of natural arches and unique rock formations, Alabama Hills is a perfect adventure for any HikeSnob. The beautiful hillsides and unique rock formations gives this landscape a Wild West charm. It’s easy to see why Alabama Hills is such a popular filming location. Over 150 films and dozens of televisions shows were shot here since the 1920’s. The most notable are The Lone Ranger, The Gene Autry Show, How the West Won and Joe Kidd. More recently, Gladiator, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Iron Man and Django Unchained filmed some scenes in the area.
We arrived in the town of Lone Pine late afternoon. We took Mount Whitney Portal road towards Alabama Hills. The scenery of small restaurants and shops quickly switched to beautiful rock formations over a range of mountainsides. A few minutes after we passed the Alabama Hills Recreation Lands sign, we were graced with the “Face Of Alabama Hills” on the right side of the road.
We quickly jumped out of our AC-cooled truck into the sweltering desert heat to check out our new friend. This face has become an iconic landmark to all hikers who take the same road to explore the area or to make the strenuous summit up Mount Whitney.
Looking around we were in awe of the beauty of the landscape. We didn’t expect much when we decided to go to Alabama Hills so we were really excited when we saw how amazing it already was. After getting back into the car, we continued on Mount Whitney Portal Road and made a right onto Movie Flat Road until we reached a small parking lot.
This is where the start of the trailhead for some of the most famous arches in the area. The 0.7 mile loop is very easy to follow, you can start at either end. Before you head out on the trail, look out for Heart Rock. You can spot it right from the parking lot.
Following the trail on the left, the views of the mountains and the clouds in this sky were absolutely stunning. It was a pretty hot day but as we started the trail, the wind began to pick up cooling us down a lot.
Within 5 minutes we reached our first arch, Lathe Arch. The arches here are a great way to frame the mountains in any photo.
Within seconds, we spotted the famed Mobius Arch. This one was much larger than Lathe Arch, it’s smaller counterpart.
Let your imagination run wild here. There is so much to do and explore. HikeSlob Myron here decided to go surfing on this “wave” of a rock.
There are so many opportunities to climb and boulder despite the trail being so short. We could have spent a lot of time here but we had other places to check out.
Driving back onto Movie Flat road, you should be able to spot Eye of Alabama Hills on the right side of the road. We actually missed it the first time but we were able to catch it on our way out. We parked by the side of the road and made the quick trek up to snap a photo.
Heading down the same road, we spotted Boot Arch on our left. There is a turnout onto a dirt road. After making the left, we parked roadside and headed towards the Arch.
If you continue along the dirt road, be careful because it can get pretty bumpy. Luckily for us we came prepared with Myron Jr., our newly rented 4×4 Nissan Frontier. We were able to navigate the roads just fine.
Our last stop was Cyclops Arch which is about a 10 minute walk directly past Boot Arch. You can either walk to the cyclops or drive a half a mile up the road to make the hike a bit shorter. Trying to find Cyclops Arch is a bit difficult because you can’t spot it from the road. But if you put in some effort, you’ll find it behind one of the boulder clusters.
Do you see the cyclops? We do! We can also see a cattle skull.
Alabama Hills is such a great area to explore and climb. The seclusion and natural beauty of this underrated attraction is easy to fall in love with. It was our own personal playground and we could’ve spent all day here. But being a HikeSnob, we can never stay in one place for too long. Off to our next adventure! 👯
- 4×4 vehicle recommended
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