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Backpacker Magazine – June 2013

Grand Traverses: Ruby Crest

Soak up the alpine solitude in the "Swiss Alps of Nevada".

by: Brendan Leonard

Ruby Crest, NV (Photo by George Wuerthner)
Ruby Crest, NV (Photo by George Wuerthner)

Distance 34 miles
Gain 9,700 feet
Difficulty 7

Why it’s grand Five thousand feet above the northern Nevada desert, the Ruby Mountains provide a 60-mile-long oasis where gneiss and granite peaks soar above alpine lakes. Yet few people know to venture there. Many of the canyons that line the sides of the range are private property, so the Ruby Crest Trail, tracing the spine of the chain’s northern half, offers one of the few access points.

Do it Park a shuttle car at the Harrison Pass trailhead (the southern terminus) and drive 90 minutes north to the Lamoille Canyon Road trailhead. You’ll start in glacier-carved Lamoille Canyon, then stay on or near the ridge of craggy 10,000- and 11,000-foot peaks almost the entire way, with lots of up and down. Break it into four days of hiking: Spend your first night on the open shores of North Furlong Lake (mile 7.5), the next at talus-ringed Overland Lake (mile 20.4), and your last in an aspen grove where the trail crosses Smith Creek’s south fork (mile 26.3). Pack a fly rod to add cutthroat trout to your menu (with so little angling pressure, many lakes are flush with fish).

Nevada has the most mountain ranges of any state—you only have 313 to go!

Contact
(775) 752-3357; fs.usda.gov/htnf

Season
July to October

Permits
None




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