|GPS||N 36 41.02 W118 06.35|
|Elevation gain||3,800-5,000 ft|
|Season||Fall to spring in dry weather|
|Required Vehicle||Main trail is easy with no need for 4×4 or even high clearance. Subaru perfection. High clearance 4WD useful for the side loop trails|
Current Road Information: BLM Bishop Field Office, 785 North Main Street, Suite E Bishop, CA 93514. 760-872-4881
Directions: From US 395, 6 miles north of Lone Pine, turn southwest on Moffat Ranch Road at the sign.
Site Location and Description: This is an extremely popular and scenic trail that can be traversed by passenger vehicle (Subaru perfection). Movie Flat trail runs through the Alabama Hills Recreation Area along a low range of hills on the west side of the Owens Valley. The road’s popularity stems from the rocky boulder-strewn hillsides that have served as the setting for movies, commercials and TV series. There are lots of side trails to explore which require 4WD and plenty of great primitive camp spots with dramatic views looking west into the Sierra. The main trail joins Whitney Portal Road, which is the major paved road that offers hiking access to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States (14,494 ft). Hiking permits are required for day and overnight hikes and advanced reservations are essential. Although the main Movie Flat trail does not require 4WD, the large boulders and views of the Alabama Hills makes this an extraordinarily scenic trail.
For the 4×4 enthusiast (trail rated 3 out of 10 for difficulty), at GPS coordinates N 36 38.94 W118 07.82, you can take a road that branches off to the right and takes you to the remains of Old Abe mine up above Owens Valley. The final section of this road is significantly off-camber, so check it out before you drive it.
History of Movie Flat Trail area: The Alabama Hills were formed roughly 100 million years ago, at the same time as the High Sierra. Summer heat and winter snow has shaped their peaks into the dramatic skyline you see today. Archeological evidence suggests that the area has been in use for over 10,000 years. It was and still is an important area for the Paiute tribe who once used the land for Native American ceremonies, hunting, interment of the deceased, traditional religious practices and plant gathering and processing. In the early 1860’s, the Paiutes were driven out of the area by settlers after many conflicts between the two groups over food and supplies. The Owen’s Valley Indian wars ended in the winter of 1862, in the Alabama Hills, when settlers destroyed the Paiute’s food reserves. In the spring of 1863, the Paiutes were relocated south to Fort Tejon in the Tehachapi Mountains.
The Alabama Hills were named after mines that were named by southern sympathizers after a Confederate battleship, the Alabama. Today, the Alabama hills are best known for their continuous use in movies, commercials and television shows. Shows like “The Lone Ranger”, and “Gunga Din” as well as many other westerns were filmed here. There is a plaque at the start of the dirt road that commemorates the films. It was dedicated by Roy Rogers, who made his first film there in 1938. In 1969 the Bureau of Land Management created the Alabama Hills Recreation Area in order to help preserve the natural and cultural significance of the hills for future generations.