Ruby Crest Trail |

Elko Nevada

Hiking Ruby Crest Trail - Elko Nevada Hiking Ruby Crest Trail
Elko Nevada

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview


TICKS & TODOS: 3 Todo Lists / 0 Ticks
RATING: Advanced Backpack
GEAR: Standard Backpacking Gear / Water Carrying Capacity
MAPS: Harrison Pass, NV; Green Mountain, NV; Franklin Lake NW, NV; Ruby Dome, NV;
WATER: Intermittent. Be sure to have the ability to carry a full days worth.
SEASON: Mid summer to early/mid fall
Tue Hi:34 Lo:20 Wed Hi:38 Lo:26 Thu Hi:40 Lo:24 Fri Hi:38 Lo:26 Sat Hi:34 Lo:20
View Full Weather Details

With 314, Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state. The Ruby Mountains, south of Elko, are often touted as one of the crown jewels of the Nevada ranges. Lamoille Canyon, the most visited area of the range, has been described by some as the Yosemite of Nevada. I'm not sure I would go quite that far, but the Ruby Range is indeed beautiful, remote, and has an excellent thru hike that visits a large chunk of it.

The Ruby Crest Trail is between 33 and 37 miles depending on who you ask. With small side trips for camping, it clocked in at 35 miles by my count. The hike offers a bit of everything, from lower elevation sagebrush hiking to a stunning ridgeline hike at about 10,000 ft. Though exquisite and offering relatively easy access, the Ruby Crest Trail doesn't seem crowded. Sections near Overland Lake on the mid portion of the trail and Lamoille Canyon at the northern trailhead are frequently visited, but the rest feels wild and isolated.

This makes an excellent 3-4 day outing, though some may want to push it to 5 days. Be warned, this is an advanced hike and requires skill, fitness, and experience. The most difficult section on the Ruby Crest is difficult because of its elevation and lack of water. On our trip, we did about 14 miles between water sources, crossing several summits en route.

Lack of water on the big day is a major concern. Be prepared to cover 14 miles between water sources. In mid-summer, there may be snow to melt along the ridge, but too early in the summer and the passes may be tough or dangerous to cross. I would recommend mid-July through early to mid-September as the prime time to visit. Fall brings with it an explosion of colors as the leaves change.

Notes: Be mindful of thunderstorms, much of the hike is above or near treeline. Dogs are allowed on the trail and our dog Abby had a great trip. If bringing a dog, however, be sure to carry enough water for them and yourself on the big day. For our group of 2 + dog, we carried nearly 2 gallons of water between us. The map shows where we found water on an early September trip / average snow year. It can be used as a guide, but if getting low, never pass up the opportunity to fill up. Many springs dry up by late summer.

Camping can be a bit problematic as many areas have steep hillsides and not much flat ground to pitch a tent on. The description below breaks the trip into 3 nights/4 days and ends each day at a good camping spot. Smaller groups will have an easier time finding good camping.

The hike can be done from north to south, or south to north. If hiring a shuttle, the drivers all recommend south to north. This would be my recommendation as well. The scenery gets better and better each day if heading from the south.

Getting There

The Lamoille Trailhead (Recommended exit trailhead)
From downtown Elko, take 5th Street south, which becomes state road 227. This is well signed for Lamoille Canyon. From Elko, stay on 227 for about 19 miles to the signed Forest Road 660 on the right. Signed for Lamoille. Follow the road to its ends in 12 miles. This is the exit trailhead. There is a toilet at the trailhead, but no camping. Thompson Canyon Campround is part way up the canyon, but can fill up on weekends. See Reserve America for reservations.

To Harrison Pass (Trailhead)
From the ends of the road, go back down Lamoille Canyon to 227. Go left (west) on 227. Follow this back 12 miles toward Elko. Turn left onto state road 228. (signed, major junction)

Follow 228 south for 40.1 miles. It passes through the incredibly small town of Jiggs, then continues south before turning east and heading up to the pass. Just before the pass, the road turns to good graded dirt. It should be reachable by all in most conditions. The pass offers good views to the east. Park at the large parking are if you have a low clearance 2wd vehicle.


Route

Day 1 - From Harrison Pass to the South Fork (10 miles from Harrison Pass / 8.2 from the 4wd Trailhead)
From Harrison Pass, walk or drive the jeep road. Stay on the obvious main road and several small forks. It is about 2.8 miles to where the jeep road makes a left on the ridge and flattens out. There is a parking area here and trailhead sign. If driving, I would recommend parking here.

Continue along the jeep road, staying right at the first junction, again on the obvious main road. It contours around with several more minor side roads. Ignore this. The further you get, the narrower the road gets and the more it becomes an ATV trail. The trail then crosses the Wilderness Boundary and begins a mellow meander in and out of the many side canyons. A ridgeline makes a good lunch spot before the descent to the South Fork of Smith Creek. There were several shallow streams crossing the road when we hiked this route early September.

On the south bank of the South Fork of Smith Creek are several good campsites. The camping is just OK, though, as the area seems to be pretty heavily used by livestock. We continued on and camped in the Middle Fork, but flat ground was very hard to come by.

Day 2 - South Fork of Smith Creek to Overland Lake (5.75 miles with a steep elevation gain over the pass)
The trail climbs to the ridge, meanders down to Middle Fork of Smith Creek, then climbs slightly before making a fairly steady traverse to the headwaters of the North Fork of Smith Creek. If needed, there are quite a few good camping areas in the North Fork, though they may be a bit off the trail.

From the headwaters of the North Fork, fill your bottles at the last spring, right where the trail begins its series of steep switchbacks. The character of the hike begins to change as the hike climbs to the ridge. Big views present themselves and you begin to see north to the scenery you will encounter in the next couple of days.

From the ridge, the trail switchbacks down to Overland Lake. There are quite a few good campsites along the lake, and the old cabin makes for an interesting site.

Day 3 - Overland Lake to North Furlong or Farv Lake (12.1 mile to North Furlong Junction / about 15 miles to Farve Lake)
The big day! From Overland Lake, the trail descends to a junction. Go left here, as the trail contours along the side of the range. A waterfall on the left before the trail begins climbing is the last reliable water for 12-13 miles. Stock up!

The trail climbs, switchbacks, and finally reaches the ridge and overlooks Log Canyon to the west. Big views from here on out! Catch your breath and start climbing to the first of 5 summits. The trail, though up and down, is never particularly steep. After a long traverse, the trail makes a steeper climb to near the summit of Wines Peak. The true summit is a short distance west of the trail and worth the side trip.

From Wines, the trail descends to the North Furlong Junction and a great rest spot in the trees. In wet times, there will be flowing water at the junction (there wasn’t when we were there). If not, it is a 20 or so minute walk to North Furlong Lake and water. If you don't need water, I would recommend continuing on to Farve Lake. Continue north on the trail, crossing a final minor ridge for the day. The scenery changes dramatically in this section and is stunning. A few ponds on the left of the trail a short distance before Kleckner Creek offer the first water and decent camping.

At Kleckner Creek, go right. The trail climbs a short distance to the Farve Lake junction. A short distance from the main trail, Farve Lake has quite a few excellent campsites or wander south from Farve to the less visited Castle Lake.

Day 4 - To Lamoille Trailhead (5.25 miles)
From Farve Lake, head back to the main trail. The final day is short, scenic, and goes by quite fast. The trail climbs to Liberty Lake, a stunning lake set in a hanging valley. The lake is a very popular destination from the Lamoille Trailhead.

Passing Liberty Lake, it is 20 or so minutes to Liberty Pass and the dramatic views into Lamoille Canyon and the exit trailhead. From the pass, the trail meanders down to very near Lamoille Lake which makes a good side trip. A final junction just past Lamoille Lake offers a stock route (left) back to the trailhead, or the hiker route (right). Go right, as the trail passes the charming Dollar Lakes before descending to the trailhead.


Maps

Printable Maps:
Trailhead (2wd)

11T 626479mE 4464925mN

N40° 19' 31" W115° 30' 40"

Trailhead (4x4)

11T 627799mE 4468743mN

N40° 21' 34" W115° 29' 42"

Minor Jct. Right

11T 627696mE 4468722mN

N40° 21' 33" W115° 29' 46"

Jct - Right

11T 627432mE 4468915mN

N40° 21' 40" W115° 29' 57"

4-way. Stay straight.

11T 626437mE 4469867mN

N40° 22' 11" W115° 30' 39"

Small Spring #1

11T 626234mE 4470745mN

N40° 22' 40" W115° 30' 47"

Very Small Spring #1

11T 625620mE 4471744mN

N40° 23' 13" W115° 31' 12"

ATV Trail End

11T 625079mE 4471974mN

N40° 23' 20" W115° 31' 35"

Wilderness Boundary

11T 625226mE 4472355mN

N40° 23' 33" W115° 31' 28"

Small Spring #2

11T 625320mE 4472809mN

N40° 23' 47" W115° 31' 24"

Gilbert Jct. - Stay Right

11T 625283mE 4473365mN

N40° 24' 05" W115° 31' 25"

Spring #1

11T 625587mE 4473446mN

N40° 24' 08" W115° 31' 12"

McCutcheon Jct - Stay Right

11T 626549mE 4474079mN

N40° 24' 28" W115° 30' 31"

Spring #2

11T 626561mE 4474079mN

N40° 24' 28" W115° 30' 30"

Spring #3

11T 626662mE 4474344mN

N40° 24' 36" W115° 30' 26"

Spring #4

11T 627050mE 4478180mN

N40° 26' 40" W115° 30' 07"

South Fork Jct - Stay Straight

11T 626383mE 4477562mN

N40° 26' 21" W115° 30' 35"

Faint Middle Fork Jct - Stay Straight

11T 627028mE 4478484mN

N40° 26' 50" W115° 30' 07"

North Fork Junction - Right

11T 628394mE 4479179mN

N40° 27' 12" W115° 29' 09"

Spring #5

11T 629364mE 4479177mN

N40° 27' 12" W115° 28' 28"

Overland Lake

11T 630947mE 4480042mN

N40° 27' 39" W115° 27' 20"

Overland Jct - Stay left

11T 631249mE 4480199mN

N40° 27' 44" W115° 27' 07"

Spring #6

11T 630997mE 4480573mN

N40° 27' 56" W115° 27' 17"

Waterfall

11T 630624mE 4480862mN

N40° 28' 05" W115° 27' 33"

Spring #7

11T 630795mE 4481770mN

N40° 28' 35" W115° 27' 25"

Ridgeline

11T 631862mE 4483473mN

N40° 29' 29" W115° 26' 39"

Long Canyon Sign

11T 633287mE 4484055mN

N40° 29' 47" W115° 25' 38"

Wines Summit

11T 634818mE 4490004mN

N40° 32' 59" W115° 24' 28"

North Furlong Jct - Right

11T 635148mE 4491250mN

N40° 33' 40" W115° 24' 13"

Ponds

11T 634554mE 4492459mN

N40° 34' 19" W115° 24' 37"

Kletchner Jct

11T 635023mE 4492729mN

N40° 34' 28" W115° 24' 17"

Farve Jct

11T 635369mE 4492885mN

N40° 34' 32" W115° 24' 02"

Liberty Lake

11T 635795mE 4493363mN

N40° 34' 48" W115° 23' 44"

Wilderness Boundary

11T 635935mE 4493977mN

N40° 35' 08" W115° 23' 37"

Unmarked Jct - Stay Right

11T 635913mE 4494076mN

N40° 35' 11" W115° 23' 38"

Lamoille Lake Jct

11T 636071mE 4494802mN

N40° 35' 34" W115° 23' 31"

Stock Trail Jct - Stay Right

11T 636122mE 4494826mN

N40° 35' 35" W115° 23' 29"

Dollar Lakes

11T 636470mE 4494866mN

N40° 35' 36" W115° 23' 14"

Trailhead - Lamoille Canyon

11T 637422mE 4496080mN

N40° 36' 15" W115° 22' 33"

Comments

Want to make a comment? Login and let yourself be heard.