Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry, Equestrian Trail, Fitness Trail, Nature Trail
Agency: Bureau of Land Management
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No Allowed Uses:
Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - Off leash
Equestrian - Riding
Equestrian - Pack trips
Heritage and History
Motorized vehicles - ATV riding
Motorized vehicles - Four wheel drive
Motorized vehicles - Motorcycling
Motorized vehicles - OHV driving
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
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Location: In Panamint Valley, Inyo County, CA; 5 miles east of Darwin, CA and 25 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, CA. West of Death Valley National Park.
Northern access via California SR 190 or SR 178 to Panamint Valley Road. Access to southern side via SR 178 to Homewood Canyon.
Winding through the western Panamint Valley in Inyo County, CA, the remote Nadeau Trail, a linear road within the Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA), abounds with off-highway vehicle (OHV), wilderness hiking, and packing opportunities. The Nadeau Trail is a piece of living history; it exists much as it did in the mid 1880’s and ties in with numerous spurs leading up the eastern Argus Range Wilderness mountain slopes and into highly dissected desert canyons. Located 5 miles east of Darwin, CA and 25 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, CA, the Nadeau Trail exemplifies the unique blend of recreational opportunities embedded in the Bureau of Land Management’s multiple use policy.
The trail condition varies along the way with the lesser traveled stretches slow going due to the many water crossings and a lack of maintenance; the more popular stretches are in better condition. The northern most stretch from the Minnietta complex north to the terminus goes behind the Ash Hills, and the trail is unimproved with many volcanic rocks that require care when driving. None of the 28 miles road are "technical" and the entire length can be traveled by a high clearance stock SUV or pickup truck. Passenger vehicles that can enter via Minnetta Road might be able to enjoy the portion of the Nadeau Trail in the Minnetta complex, but none of the 28 miles is suitable,or recommended,for passenger auto use.
Scattered remnants of mining activity and prehistoric petroglyph sites along the Nadeau Trail allow visitors to visually experience the historical use of this area as a thruway in the upper Mojave Desert Region. When miners came to Inyo County in the 1800’s, a French-Canadian immigrant, Remi Nadeau, jumped at the opportunity to carry silver-lead bullion from the local Cerro Gordo mines to Los Angeles. This route became known as the Bullion or Nadeau Road after the man who came to dominate the freighting industry in Eastern California. Today, the route still bears his name, but it has evolved into a cultural and recreational backcountry resource for the surrounding communities.
The centuries old gravel and crushed rock composition of the Nadeau Trail offers a road large enough for enjoyable OHV and driving use in its own right. Additionally, the trail network that extends off of the main road allows families and friends to explore the local geology and culture, revel in the expansive desert vistas of a campsite, or pursue more challenging OHV and hiking routes in the Argus mountains. A distinct solitude comforts visitors from the surrounding communities as well as urban residents from Los Angeles, which is less than three hours away. Opportunities for rock hounding, stargazing, and photography expand the range of possible activities for these visitors and brings diverse groups of people into a Nadeau Trail community. Nadeau Road, and the corresponding mountain trail network, allows groups to return to the area time and again for a fresh set of adventures. The combination of healthy hiking and fitness opportunities with the capabilities of OHV exploration makes the historically significant Nadeau Trail a unique launching point for backcountry travel in the California Desert District.
The Ridgecrest area is a national showcase for OHV use, and by designating the popular Nadeau Road a National Recreation Trail, OHV users will become formally involved in the National Trails system under the guidance of an experienced management organization and tested BLM regulations.
Primary Surface: Gravel
Secondary Surface: Sand
Average Grade: 10%
Maximum Grade: 20%
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2013
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsMap: Nadeau Trail Discovery Sites map with photos.
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Outdoor Recreation Planner
Bureau of Land Management, California
22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
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