Sheep Hole Traverse

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December 29-31, 2015
The Sheep Hole Mountains are a small rocky range in the Mohave Desert just north of Joshua Tree National Park. Many people driving towards Joshua Tree from the north will undoubtedly catch a few glimpses of the range and its dramatic cliffs near the town of Amboy. I first visited the range in 2013, taking the easy standard route up to the range highpoint, but made a note of coming back and traversing the entire range.

Even though the Sheep Hole Crest was only 22 miles long, it was comprised of what looked like miles of tedious rocks and boulders typical of the Joshua Tree area, making it a 2.5-day traverse. Since the range was a straight line, it would also be done in a point to point fashion, requiring a car shuttle. Since the northern side of the range looked the most tedious, we decided to do the route in a north to south direction starting from Sheep Hole Pass just off Amboy Rd and ending at Clarks Pass just off Hwy 62.

Getting to the trailhead (north): From Twentynine Palms, head 25 miles east on Amboy Rd to Sheep Hole Pass. There is a large tower installment at the pass just east (right) off Amboy Rd. Take the obvious short dirt road to a large parking area below the tower.

Getting to the trailhead (south): This location may be slightly tricky to find due to its nondescript location. From Twentynine Palms, travel just under 30 miles to the southern toe of the Sheep Hole Crest, just before Clarks Pass. There is a small dirt road splitting off to the south (right) which ends after a few hundred feet. Park here.

North trailhead coordinates (lat/lon): 34.239463, -115.720730
South trailhead coordinates (lat/lon): 34.073529, -115.558720

The table below includes every peak (traversing north to south) on the Sheep Hole Traverse. For unnamed peaks, I have dubbed names for them which are derived from sheep (to keep with the theme). These dubbed names are in quotes. Peaks without quotes are either officially named by the USGS or were found named by previous parties who had written them in summit registers.

OrderPeakElevationTopographic ProminenceSummit Coordinates (lat/lon)
1"North Sheep Peak"2,968 ft346 ft34.253935, -115.711205
2"Loin Peak"3,372 ft305 ft34.246078, -115.701377
3Sheep Hole Mountain4,609 ft2,231 ft34.22668, -115.692114
4"Hoof Peak"4,317 ft260 ft34.216841, -115.677366
5Bilandko Mountain4,084 ft328 ft34.207472, -115.67728
6Sheep Benchmark3,876 ft (north summit)
3,874 ft (benchmark location)
413 ft (north summit)
25 ft (benchmark location)
34.195954, -115.67198
7Bilanders Mountain3,854 ft360 ft34.200303, -115.666144
8"Pastern Peak"3,785 ft235 ft34.193612, -115.657947
9"Coffin Peak"2,339 ft305 ft34.170233, -115.623186
10"Poll Peak"2,995 ft912 ft34.163842, -115.604475
11"Dock Peak"2,841 ft437 ft34.150489, -115.593166
12"Cannon Peak"2,726 ft252 ft34.145037, -115.599411
13"Fetlock Peak"2,486 ft370 ft34.124612, -115.582609
14"Eye Peak"2,454 ft170 ft34.114434, -115.566237
15"Stifle Peak"2,693 ft315 ft34.100735, -115.561237
16"Toe Peak"2,729 ft646 ft34.092793, -115.553062

Total Stats
22.4 miles    11,810 ft gain/loss

Maps (Since Blogger does not let me upload this file at full size, email me at for a full sized version of this map)

Trip Report


  1. Nice-looking traverse. Curious to know how much water you carried and what your pack weights were at the start. - Jim

    1. Each of us carried roughly 2.5 gallons. It helped that the temperatures were cool (highs in the 50s, lows in the 30s).