Nevada Pictures (7 pictures)
Liberty Pass - Ruby Mountains Directions: I80 to exit 301, the city of Elko [get any needed supplies, including gas, there] and head southeast on Rt 227 - Rt 227 winds its way through town, so keep an eye out for signs for turns; it's easy to follow once out of town. Continue on Rt 227 to the town of Lamoille and take a right on Lamoille Canyon Road (signed turn). Take the road 8 miles to the parking area at the end. Vault toilets at parking area. Free. Trails: The trail for Lamoille Lake and Liberty Pass (and more lakes) starts at the far end of the parking lot, behind the toilets. The well defined trail (width varies) bends to the right and starts heading a steady up. The trail is packed dirt with some rocks and roots at times and is in the trees most of the way up (not dense) before the lakes. There are a couple of log crossings over streams. You'll reach the first switchback about 15 to 20 minutes in - the first few are widely spaced and get closer together when you get closer to the rocks (area at the top of the valley to the left). The switchbacks stop and the trail rounds the top of the valley beneath the rocks. I reached the first of the Dollar Lakes 45 minutes into the hike. There are three Dollar Lakes, two near the trail and one off the trail. If the trail around the outlet areas is overflowed or muddy, look around a little bit and see if there is a better way across. The trail is mild around the lakes area and there are some nice views of the Lamoille Valley along the way. After the 2nd outlet crossing, the trail heads a short up (shortly past the horse trail junction) to Lamoille Lake. There is a short side trail to reach the lakeside. The good-sized lake is in a half bowl with granite peaks above. Back on the main trail, the trail starts heading a hard up with lots of switchbacks. There are some nice views down on Lamoille Lake and the valley (take short side trips for some views). Up and up and up you go, with the trail getting rockier - look for pikas (small mouse-like looking animals) in the rock fields. The pass goes through the ridge gap to the left of the lake. After the pass, to the right (off trail) and straight is a nice spot looking down on Liberty Lake and across to Castle Lake - Liberty Lake is not too far from the pass. It took an hour for me to hike from Lamoille Lake to Liberty Pass. I turned around there due to weather issues (storms during the night and threatening clouds had again rolled in). There were still 2 snow patches along the way to the pass (easy crossings) when I went (but it was an extra heavy winter). Trail Length + Elevation: 3 miles, 1300 feet one-way Area: Mountains and mountain lakes. Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 Recommendation: Very pretty area, lots of mountain lakes. Green and colorful - not like you'd think when you think "Nevada".
Island Lake - Ruby Mountains Directions: I80 to exit 301, the city of Elko [get any needed supplies, including gas, there] and head southeast on Rt 227 - Rt 227 winds its way through town, so keep an eye out for signs for turns; it's easy to follow once out of town. Continue on Rt 227 to the town of Lamoille and take a right on Lamoille Canyon Road (signed turn). Take the road 8 miles to the parking area at the end. Vault toilets at parking area. Free. Trails: The trail starts at the top of the parking lot, near the one-way road branch - there is a big "Island Lake" sign. The narrow trail heads a steady up along the open (no shade) mountainside. After about 20 minutes is a switchback. A 2nd switchback is a short ways ahead and the trail then continues heading around mountainside. About 5 to 10 minutes ahead is another switchback and again a 2nd switchback is a short ways ahead. The trail is mild as it heads around a bend (some trees) and a pretty waterfall/ casacade is just ahead. There is a bridge over the stream (actually the outlet from the lake). On the other side of the stream, the trail heads up, up, up as it switchbacks to the top of the ridge. The trail crosses back over the stream at the top and the lake is right there. It is a pretty, small lake in a bowl. There is a small island in the middle of the lake, thus the name. You may have the lake to yourself as most opt for the Lamoille Lake hike. Trail Length + Elevation: 2 miles, 871 feet one-way Area: Mountains and mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 Recommendation: The hike wasn't as pretty as Liberty Pass, but I liked Island Lake itself the best. Hopefully you have time to do both hikes.
Wheeler Peak - Great Basin Directions: Take Rt 488 into Great Basin National Park. Turn right onto Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, a 12 mile mountain road. Shortly before the end of the road, keep an eye for a small parking area on the right for the trailhead for Wheeler Peak (can also start the hike from the parking area at the end of the road (before the campground) and do the north section of the Alpine Lakes Loop). No facilities, but vault toilets at the parking area at the end of the road. Free. Trails: At 13,063 feet, Wheeler Peak is the tallest peak in Nevada (there is a point along Boundary Peak in Nevada that is at a higher elevation, but Boundary Peak's top is in Calfornia). The one person width trail heads a surpringly mild through the trees for the first mile. At the Alpine Loop trail junction, take a right. A short ways ahead is the right to continue on for Wheeler Peak - but first take a short side trip by heading straight to the small Stella Lake (just .1 mile ahead). From the lake you get a good view of Wheeler Peak (the rounded mound to the right) and you may have a nice reflection in the morning [also a good spot for feet soaking on the way back]. Back on the Wheeler Peak trail, it does head away from the peak for a bit (so, yes, you are on the correct trail) through the meadows. Eventually the trail does make a long U-curve back (with some up) and goes to the middle of a gap in the ridge, to the west and above Stella Lake. The trail is mild as it approaches the gap and the trees there. Then the easy part of the hike is over. It is a huff-and-puff up on the now very rocky trail and the trees are soon left behind for the rest of the way. After that hard up is a milder section of the ridge and you can see Wheeler Peak above you. Take a rest in one of the wind shelters (U-shaped man made rock walls) along that section as the rest of the way is pure work as it is steep and rocky to the top, with few switchbacks. It is a killer huff-and-puff where you'll need lots of short pauses and longer rests as you head up the side-ridge to the peak. Once you finally peak, you'll want to give a shout of joy, but you won't have the energy to do so. The peak is just to the right where the trail reaches the top, but the best views are to the left, as far as you feel comfortable going. Next to the trail peak is a mailbox (yes, mailbox) with a sheet inside that you can sign to say you made it. You may want to bring a light jacket as it can get cool and windy on the way up and at the peak, even in the summer. It took me a little less than 3 1/2 hours to reach the top. Due to the rockiness and steepness of the trail, going back down is also slow going - take your time and your knees might complain. Trail Length + Elevation: 4.3 miles, 2900 feet one-way Area: Big mountain, small mountain lake, some trees. Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 Recommendation: It may only be 4.3 miles, but it is a killer hike. Still, it's always neat to add another "tallest peak in a state" to your list.
Bristlecone Pine - Great Basin Directions: Take Rt 488 into Great Basin National Park. Turn right onto Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, a 12 mile mountain road all the way to the parking area at the end of the road (before the campground). Vault toilets. Free. Trails: The trail starts across the road from the info sign in the parking area - head straight. The trail is well defined as it heads up through the trees. At the Teresa Lake junction, take a left. The trail drops some and then heads up around the hillside. After a short drop to a rock field and up out, there are some Bristlecone Pines and the full grove is just ahead around the bend. There is a small loop through the grove with some information signs, including one pointing out a tree that has been dated at 3,300 years old. After the loop, take a left and continue on the trail for about 15 minutes to an info sign and a good view up the glacier valley. You can continue on to Rock Glacier (the snow/ice is mostly under the rocks, thus it's name). Trail Length + Elevation: 1.5 miles, 800 feet one-way to the grove Area: Big mountain, gnarly old trees, glacier. Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, July 24, 2008 Recommendation: The neat looking trees are worth visiting.
Alpine Lakes - Great Basin Directions: Take Rt 488 into Great Basin National Park. Turn right onto Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, a 12 mile mountain road all the way to the parking area at the end of the road (before the campground). Vault toilets. Free. Trails: The trail starts across the road from the info sign in the parking area - head straight. The trail is well defined as it heads up through the trees. At the Teresa Lake junction, take a right and Teresa Lake is a short ways ahead. The uninteresting "lake" was little more than a pond when I was there. From Teresa Lake, the trail heads up over a ridge and it is about a mile (mostly up, not hard) through the trees to Stella Lake. Stella Lake is a bigger lake (though still small) with Wheeler Peak looming above. From Stella Lake, take a right/straight at the two junctions and it's about an uneventful mile at a slight down back to the trailhead/parking lot. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.7 miles, 600 feet loop Area: Big mountain, two small mountain lakes When I did the hike: Thursday, July 24, 2008 Recommendation: Skip it. If you want to visit Stella Lake, hike the first mile of the Wheeler Peak hike.
Baker Lake - Great Basin Directions: Take Rt 488 into Great Basin National Park. Turn left onto the Baker Creek Road, a dirt road (passable with all vehilces). Take the road 6 miles to the end. Vault toilets. Free. Trails: The narrow trail heads a steady up as it weaves (gentle switchbacks) its way up the ridge. The trail then heads up along a slope above the creek. The trail enters the trees and then goes next to the creek. After the trail junction (continue straight), the trail heads away from the creek some and continues heading up. After a good bit, you'll see snow trail markers in the meadow to the left and the trail soon has several switchbacks up the wooded hillside. The trail heads alongside the creek again while heading up for a bit before reaching another switchback (a short one). To the left are lots of dead trees and the trail crosses the creek (log crossing) and then continues up the middle section. Ahead is a harder up and soon are the long switchbacks as the trail heads up, up, up the ridge. There is a mild section and then an up again along the ridge to the right (just one switchback). At the top, the trail drops slightly and it is mild to the lake, less than 10 minutes ahead. The Baker Lake is in a granite bowl, with trees to the right and rugged granite ridges high above. The water level was very low when I was there and I didn't think it was very pretty. It took me a 3 hours to reach the lake. Note: There is supposedly a hard, rough path (the park doesn't call it a trail) over two ridges to Johnson Lake and then take that trail back to the trailhead for a loop hike, but there was no junction sign along the way to Baker Lake for that branch and I never saw a hint of a trail heading that way (and I was keeping an eye out for it as I was considering doing the loop hike). Trail Length + Elevation: 5.4 miles, 2620 feet one-way 13.1 miles, 3290 feet loop Area: Mountains, mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, July 24, 2008 Recommendation: Maybe it was the time of the year with the water level so low in the lake, but it seemed like a lot of work for little reward when I was there. But the hike came highly recommended by the same person who suggested the pretty Ruby Mountains.