Plan to hike before or after midday in the spring, summer, or fall, unless you're in the mood for a masochistic baking. Carry plenty of water, wear protective clothing, and keep an eye out for black widows, scorpions, snakes, and other potentially dangerous creatures.
Darwin Falls. This lovely, 2-mile round-trip hike rewards you with a refreshing year-round waterfall surrounded by thick vegetation and a rocky gorge. No swimming or bathing is allowed, but it's a beautiful place for a picnic. Adventurous hikers can scramble higher toward more rewarding views of the falls. Some sections of the trail are not passable for those with mobility issues. Easy. Death Valley National Park, California, 92328.
Natural Bridge Canyon Trail. A rough 2-mile access road from Badwater Road leads to a trailhead. From there, set off to see interesting geological features in addition to the bridge, which is a ½ mile away. The one-way trail continues for a few hundred yards, but scenic returns diminish quickly, and eventually you're confronted with climbing boulders. Easy. Death Valley, California, 92328.
Salt Creek Interpretive Trail. This trail, a ½-mile boardwalk circuit, loops through a spring-fed wash. The nearby hills are brown and gray, but the floor of the wash is alive with aquatic plants such as pickleweed and salt grass. The stream and ponds here are among the few places in the park to see the rare pupfish, the only native fish species in Death Valley. They're most easily seen during their spawning season in February and March. Animals such as bobcats, foxes, coyotes, and snakes visit the spring, and you may also see ravens, common snipes, killdeer, and great blue herons. Easy. Death Valley, California, 92328.
Titus Canyon Trail. The narrow floor of Titus Canyon is made of hard-packed gravel and dirt, and it's a constant, moderate, uphill walk (3-mile round-trip is the trail's most popular tack). Klare Spring and some petroglyphs are 5½ miles from the western mouth of the canyon, but you can get a feeling for the area on a shorter walk. Easy. Death Valley National Park, California, 92328.
Fall Canyon Trail. This is a 3-mile, one-way hike from the Titus canyon parking area. First, walk ½ mile north along the base of the mountains to a large wash, then go 2½ miles up the canyon to a 35-foot dry fall. You can continue by climbing around to the falls on the south side. Moderate. Death Valley National Park, California, 92328.
Mosaic Canyon Trail. A gradual uphill trail (4 miles round-trip) winds through the smoothly polished, marbleized limestone walls of this narrow canyon. There are dry falls to climb at the upper end. Moderate. Death Valley, California, 92328.
Keane Wonder Mine Trail. This fascinating relic of Death Valley's gold-mining past, built in 1907, reopened in November 2017 after nine years of repair work. Its most unique feature is the mile-long tramway that descends 1,000 vertical feet, which once carried gold ore and still has the original cables attached. From here, a network of trails leads to other old mines. A climb to the uppermost tramway terminal is rewarded by expansive views of the valley. Access road off Beatty Cutoff Rd., 17½ miles north of Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California, 92328.
Telescope Peak Trail. The 14-mile round-trip (with 3,000 feet of elevation gain) trail begins at Mahogany Flat Campground, which is accessible by a rough dirt road. The steep and at some points treacherous trail winds through pinyon, juniper, and bristlecone pines, with excellent views of Death Valley and Panamint Valley. Ice axes and crampons may be necessary in winter—check at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. It takes a minimum of six grueling hours to hike to the top of the 11,049-foot peak and then return. Difficult. Death Valley, California, 92328.