Panamint City is the main attraction in Surprise Canyon. However there are many other interesting sites within the canyon including Brewery Spring, Limekiln Spring, Thompson Camp, Sentinel Peak, plenty of mines, lots of ruins, habitable cabins, some roads that take off up side canyons, and Panamint Pass. Hiking up the canyon can be quite difficult due to dense vegetation growing below the two springs.

Happy Canyon is located just north of Ballarat and between Pleasant Canyon and Surprise Canyon in Panamint Valley. It is possible to drive a little ways into the mouth of the canyon, but a large fence blocks further progress. There are many ruins left over from mining activity in the canyon. Happy Canyon can also be accessed from Pleasant Canyon via the Cooper Mine turnoff. (Click here for area map)


Panamint City (September 2018)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Chris Wicht's Camp - Also known as Novak's Camp in recent times.
  2. Cardinal Flower - Lobelia cardinalis of the Bellflower Family.
  3. Brewery Springs - Nice new sign someone recently placed along the way.
  4. Panamint City - Some of the cabins along north side of canyon.
  5. Flags in Window - Stars and stripes and the Jolly Roger as curtains.
  6. Generator - Apparently the shed fell apart or was used for fuel.
  7. Panamint Pass - Looking up towards the pass above Panamint City.
  8. Cistern - Located just above Thompson Camp.
  9. Red Valerian - Located at Thompson Camp near clump of irises.
  10. Thompson Camp - One of the cabins a ways beyond Panamint City.
  11. Old Bricks - Interesting pile of disintegrating bricks.
  12. Panamint City - Looking down on main cabin and other structures.
  13. Irises - Lots of irises near cabins at PC and Thompson Camp.
  14. Chimney - Ruins both old and recent.
  15. More Irises - Small flower garden next to cabin.
  16. Cabin Entrance - Sometimes called "Hippie Cabin" or "The Castle."
  17. Cabin Steps - The other side of previous cabin.
  18. Outhouse - Rickety old house of relief!
  19. Cross Canyon View - From just below castle to main tunnel.
  20. Stewart's Wonder Mine - Just the sign. Not the mine. That's a rhyme!

Panamint City (October 2014)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Chris Wicht's Camp - Some equipment near the beginning of the trail.
  2. The Falls #1 - Narrow passage along first mile on way up Surprise Canyon.
  3. Limekiln #1 - Looking up the canyon towards interesting spring area.
  4. Limekiln #2 - Another look at the vegetation around the spring.
  5. Limekiln #3 - A look under the canopy at some ferns growing at the base of the spring.
  6. Chimney #1 - Looking up the canyon towards the chimney.
  7. Chimney #2 - A closer look at the chimney and surrounding ruins.
  8. Robot Man - Interesing collection of junk in front of main cabin in Panamint City.
  9. Rock Ruins - Some old walls just below Panamint City.
  10. Black and Yellow Spider - Interesting spider spinning a web.
  11. Nightshade - There were quite a few nightshade plants at Brewery Spring.
  12. Virgin's Bower - A lot of this plant also found at Brewery Spring.
  13. The Falls #2 - Another look at the falls near the bottom of the route.
  14. Cattail - Several cattail plants are evident a little ways up from the trailhead.
  15. Horsetail - Lots of this plant near the bottom of the route.

Happy Canyon (October 2013)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Porter Mine - Hard to read this sign next to road leading to Porter Mine.
  2. Apricot Mallow - Lots of these flowers all over the place!
  3. Nevada Goldeneye - Another prevalent plant with lots of blooms!
  4. Phlox - There were a few of these plants scattered around here and there.
  5. Rattlesnake Weed - Also known as whitemargin spurge.
  6. Weston Cabin - This old shack is steadily deteriorating a decade after the big fire.
  7. Narrow Entrance - The middle fork of Happy Canyon starts here!
  8. Water Cress - Aquatic plant growing in flowing water produced by spring.
  9. Rose Hips - Lots of wild rose plants at bottom of the middle fork.
  10. Water-Loving Plants - Virgin Bower, Wild Rose, and Common Reed.
  11. Donkeys - Four donkeys hanging out near spring.
  12. Cabin Remains - Looks like an old gas-burning refrigerator in there!
  13. Turpentine Broom - Only a few of these here and there.
  14. Middle Fork #1 - Looking down the middle fork of Happy Canyon.
  15. Slab and Barrel - Also several flat areas where trailers were most likely parked.
  16. Desert Paintbrush - There were plenty of these plants throughout the upper canyon.
  17. Scarlet Milkvetch #1 - The plant encountered only upper portion of middle fork.
  18. Middle Fork #2 - Another look down the middle fork of Happy Canyon.
  19. Scarlet Milkvetch #2 - A couple dozen of these plants in bloom were observed.
  20. Mine Tunnel - Tunnel on ridge between middle and south fork of Happy Canyon.
  21. Lone Donkey - A single donkey standing in the middle of the burnt out area of upper Happy Canyon.
  22. Sentinel Peak - Sentinel Peak in the background and a burnt pinyon in the foreground.
  23. Porter Mine Gate - Gate blocking access to Porter Mine.
  24. Porter Mine Cabin - Looking up at structures around the Porter Mine.
  25. Penstemon - Pink flowers on the Pleasant Canyon side of the road leading to the Porter Mine.

Happy Canyon (September 2011)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Sheep #1 - Family of four bighorn sheep.
  2. Sheep #2 - These guys were hanging out in Pleasant Canyon.
  3. Sheep #3 - It was necessary to wait for these guys to cross the road.
  4. Sheep #4 - They decided to head to higher ground.
  5. Sheep #5 - Last glimpse of sheep up on ridge.
  6. Datura Mound - Lots of datura in Pleasant Canyon.
  7. Donkey - Another critter hanging out in Pleasant Canyon on drive to trailhead.
  8. Weston Outhouse - The facilities at the old Weston Cabin.
  9. Weston Cabin #1 - Looking down the canyon from just above the cabin.
  10. Weston Cabin #2 - The old stove located inside the cabin.
  11. Weston Cabin #3 - Steps and back porch of the cabin.
  12. Weston Cabin #4 - Cluttered yard and knocked down fence.
  13. Happy View - Looking down on branch of Happy Canyon from ridge at 8300'.
  14. Hudson River Mine - Looking across ridge at old mine.
  15. Unnamed Mine - This one had two vertical shafts and was located on ridge northeast of Hudson River Mine.

Porter Peak (June 2009)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Mormon Gulch - Road near top of Mormon Gulch.
  2. Mormon Peak - Looking south toward Mormon Peak.
  3. The Parks - Looking south toward South and Middle Park.
  4. Porter Peak - Rock wall at top of Porter Peak.
  5. Dead Trees #1 - Burnt tree upside down north of Porter Peak.
  6. Dead Trees #2 - Sentinel Peak in the background.
  7. Sego Lily - A few of these were scattered around.
  8. Dead Trees #3 - Another victim of the Happy Canyon Fire (July 2000).
  9. Redray Alpinegold - There were a couple colonies of these fellas!
  10. Johnson Canyon - Looking down into Johnson Canyon.
  11. Happy Canyon - South and Middle forks of Happy Canyon.
  12. Penstemon - This was plentiful all along the ridge.
  13. Evening-Primrose #1 - There were a few colonies of these plants!
  14. Old Road - Part of old road visible in center of picture.
  15. Evening-Primrose #2 - Another healthy specimen!
  16. Lichen - Rocks painted orange and yellow with lichen.

Surprise Canyon (August 2007)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Wicht's/Novak's Burn - Structures and trees burnt in recent fire.
  2. Another View of Burn - Just another view of previous scene.
  3. Old VW Van - Old van in middle of burnt area.
  4. Old Tractor - Old tractor in burnt area.
  5. Old Truck - Old truck in burnt area. There were a few more vehicles in the area.
  6. Pool - Small pool along the way up to the falls.
  7. Top of Falls - View looking down from the top of the falls.
  8. Green Truck - Remains of old truck a short distance above the falls.
  9. Grapes - There were lots of grapes on the vines along the path.
  10. Ferns - Ferns growing in the creek.
  11. Limekiln - Path to falls almost completely grown over.
  12. Chimney Guards - A couple donkeys keeping the chimney safe.
  13. Donkeys - Close up of the chimney guards.
  14. PC Truck - Old truck at Panamint City.
  15. PC Cabin - Nicest cabin at Panamint City.
  16. Water Pump - This pump, located in a corner of the welder's shop, supplies running water. I noticed other similar looking pumps, but I didn't test them to see if they worked.
  17. Basic Map - This map was in a packet left in the main cabin.
  18. Porch View - View from porch of main cabin.
  19. Generator - Generator along trail to Thompson Camp.
  20. Mine View - View of mines above Panamint City.
  21. Water Tank - Water tank along way to Thompson Camp. Above this tank is the site where Shadow the dog was trapped for a couple days a few years ago.
  22. Thompson Mill - Remains of a mill at Thompson Camp.
  23. Thompson Cabin #1 - One of the cabins at Thompson Camp.
  24. Thompson Cabin #2 - Another cabin at Thompson Camp.
  25. Concrete Tank - Tank at Thompson Camp.
  26. Thompson Car - A car from the 40's or 50's left at Thompson Camp. At some point the road up to PC must have been pretty good!
  27. Thompson Water Tank - This tank is located about 100 yards up from the cabins at Thompson Camp.
  28. Columbines - Some columbines growing next to the tank.
  29. Irises - This iris patch is located next to one of the cabins at Thompson Camp.
  30. Apple Tree - Apple tree at Thompson Camp.
  31. Stream and Flowers - These flowers were growing between the two cabins at Thompson Camp.
  32. PC View #1 - Looking at Panamint City from up the canyon.
  33. PC View #2 - Similar view.

Sentinel Peak (Summer 2006)
  1. Death Valley Floor - Floor of Death Valley from Sentinel Peak.
  2. Deer on Sentinel Peak - Deer near the southern summit of Sentinel Peak.
  3. Fern Bush - Fern bush with Happy Canyon down below.
  4. Flags on Sentinel - Three flags found in register box at the summit. The bottom flag had a bad word right before Bush and Chenney.
  5. Geo Marker #1 - Geo marker on Sentinel Peak.
  6. Geo Marker #2 - Another geo marker on Sentinel Peak.
  7. Happy Branch Fork - Three forks of Happy Canyon branch off at this point. One heads toward Surprise Canyon. The other two head toward the crest of the Panamints. The Weston Cabin is located in the southern-most fork just above this point.
  8. Happy Saddle - Saddle between the southern-most and middle fork of Happy Canyon.
  9. Johnson Canyon - Johnson Canyon from Sentinel Peak.
  10. Manly Peak View - View looking south from Sentinel to Manly.
  11. Porter Mine - View of Porter Mine from Sentinel.
  12. Happy-Pleasant Saddle - Saddle between Happy Canyon and Pleasant Canyon.
  13. Sentinel Peak #1 - Sentinel Peak from Happy-Pleasant Saddle.
  14. Sentinel Peak #2 - View of Sentinel Peak from ridge.
  15. Sentinel Peak #3 - View of southern (lower) summit of Sentinel Peak.
  16. Sentinel Peak #4 - View of Sentinel Peak from southern summit.
  17. Shot Gun Mary's Ridge - Looking across Surprise Canyon to ridge on which Shot Gun Mary's cabin is situated.
  18. Telescope Peak #1 - View of Telescope Peak from Sentinel Peak.
  19. Telescope Peak #2 - View of Telescope Peak with pines in foreground.
  20. Miner's Tools #1 - Miner's tools at 8500' on side of Sentinel Peak.
  21. Miner's Tools #2 - Another view of miner's tools.

Happy Canyon (May/June 2006)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Falls in Happy Canyon - Falls near bottom portion of canyon.
  2. Tailings Pile - Tailings pile a few miles up the canyon near the entrance to a side canyon in which there was much mining activity.
  3. Washout - Washout where a road used to be.
  4. Willows - Willows clogging canyon bottom.
  5. More Falls - More falls in bottom part of canyon.
  6. Tram Ruins #1 - Tram ruins in bottom part of canyon.
  7. Tram Ruins #2 - More tram ruins.
  8. Burned Area #1 - Burnout from fire during summer of 2000 (south fork of upper Happy Canyon) with Sentinel Peak in background.
  9. Burned Area #2 - Another burnout view with Sentinel Peak in background.
  10. Burned Area #3 - Another view of burnout area looking down canyon.
  11. Burned Area #4 - Looking down canyon through burnout area and lots of flowers.
  12. Happy Saddle - View of saddle between Pleasant Canyon and Happy Canyon taken from saddle between south and north fork of Happy Canyon.
  13. North Fork Road - Road going eastward up north fork of Happy Canyon (Sentinel Peak would be immediately to the north).
  14. Porter Mine #1 - Porter Mine view from below.
  15. Porter Mine #2 - Porter Mine view from below (with less zoom).
  16. Porter Mine #3 - Porter Mine view taken from saddle between north and south fork of Happy Canyon.
  17. Ruins - Ruins of miner's cabin in north fork of Happy Canyon.
  18. Sentinel Peak #1 - Sentinel Peak view taken from saddle between forks of Happy Canyon.
  19. Sentinel Peak #2 - Sentinel Peak view taken from north fork of Happy Canyon.
  20. Tunnel on Saddle - Tunnel on saddle between forks of Happy Canyon.
  21. Weston Cabin #1 - Outhouse at Weston Cabin.
  22. Weston Cabin #2 - Solar panel at Weston Cabin.
  23. Weston Cabin #3 - Weston Cabin from garden area.
  24. Weston Cabin #4 - Account of storm (8/14/05) left in log at Weston Cabin. (Sounds like quite a storm!)
  25. Wildrose #1 - Wildrose bush located at spring near Weston Cabin and below Seninel Peak.
  26. Wildrose #2 - Wildrose near springs.
  27. Wildrose #3 - Several blossums.
  28. Wildrose #4 - Rose bush with lots of blossums.
  29. Wildrose #5 - Flower and foliage.
  30. Wildrose #6 - Bug on rose.
  31. Wildrose #7 - Another flower and foliage.
  32. Wildrose #8 - Another wildrose blossum.

Panamint City (Spring 2004)    Quick view of trip pics
  1. Panamint Ruins #1 - Remains of stone structure near Panamint City.
  2. Panamint Ruins #2 - More stone remains in Surprise Canyon.
  3. Panamint Ruins #3 - Stone walls on slope near canyon bottom.
  4. Panamint Ruins #4 - Another old stone structure.
  5. Panamint Stack - Smoke stack at Panamint City.
  6. The Castle - One of the nicer cabins near Panamint City.
  7. Another Cabin - Another cabin in Surprise Canyon.
  8. Recent Structure - Ore processing structure and tunnel.
  9. Limekiln Springs #1 - Water dripping on algae and ferns.
  10. Limekiln Springs #2 - More water, algae, and ferns.
  11. Hall Ridge Cabin - Shack at end of road over-looking Hall Canyon.
  12. Sentinel Peak - Picture taken near top of north ridge of Surprise Canyon.
  13. Miner's Lettuce - Miner's Lettuce growing near Brewery Spring.
  14. Mushrooms - Water trickling by in the background.

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