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Needles Lookout Trail



2.1 mile 3.4 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 591' 180 m
Descent: -289' -88 m
High: 8,103' 2,470 m
Low: 7,765' 2,367 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 41% (22°)


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Trail shared by Mario Zamora

A steep climb with great views along the way and especially at the top.

Mario Zamora

Features Views

Normal snowfall will make the trip not passable or extremely dangerous.


Starting from the trailhead, you have a couple of mountains to navigate up and down with the final climb up the switchbacks to the lookout. The trail is typically 4-5 feet wide, but narrows to just a couple feet in many places. Snow, which lasted until at least May in 2016, can make the trail difficult to pass in several areas where the trail is a single path and the drop is quite steep. In the summer months, snow will not be an issue. You may have to jump over a few downed trees measuring 2-3 feet in diameter.

Just before your ascent up the last peak, there is a small campground where you can take a breather, as well as an area up the peak, but before the steps where you can circle up. The final climb is all singletrack up the switchbacks to the lookout steps and is rocky.

The lookout is no longer there, but the steps up to where it used to be are still there and safe. Once at the top, you can see Dome Rock (which you can get to via a less intense trail which you can access along the same highway) to the south.

Depending on the time of year that you visit a gate may block your entrance to the upper parking area. If the gate is closed, you'll need to park lower, adding mileage to your outing. Additionally, the trail may have parts where snow remains through the spring and it can be difficult to pass. You may also run into several spots with down trees. Expect a longer outing under those conditions as you'll often have to navigate your own trails.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna


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May 22, 2018
Anton Loboda

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote


  3.0 from 1 vote
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in California


3 Views Last Month
1,450 Since May 20, 2016



From the lookout viewing NE.
May 6, 2016 near Kernville, CA
The top of the lookout stairs, viewing north.
May 5, 2016 near Kernville, CA
Part of the stairway up to the lookout.
May 5, 2016 near Kernville, CA
Partial view from the Needles Lookout to the NE.
May 5, 2016 near Kernville, CA
Me and the kiddos, headed to the Needles Lookout: 11/2019
Feb 8, 2020 near Kernville, CA


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