Elko, NV: Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

Dazzling high-country lakes, glacier-carved cirques and miles of stunning alpine scenery render this secluded 38-mile National Recreation Trail a must-hike.
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Dazzling high-country lakes, glacier-carved cirques and miles of stunning alpine scenery render this secluded 38-mile National Recreation Trail a must-hike.

The Ruby Crest Trail wastes no time boasting its bounty of breathtaking terrain: from the trailhead at Lamoille Canyon, you’re only 1.5 miles away from the magnificent Dollar Lakes, backdropped by a craggy ridge linking the Liberty and Snow Lake peaks. The lakes set the stage for the pristine mountain scenery ahead, beginning with a picture-perfect panorama of Liberty Lake and Wines Peak from Liberty Pass at mile 3.5. Descend from the pass to stroll alongside Favre Lake and Castle Lake before climbing through the North Furlong Drainage. Fill up water bottles at Furlong Creek – the last water source for 9 miles – before pushing toward Wines Peak (10,863 feet).
Past Wines, roll over 4.3 miles of terrain above 10,000 feet as you stomp through prime territory for mountain goat and Bighorn sheep while swinging past excellent vistas of the valleys to the east and west of the Rubies. Drop down in altitude as you walk through the rolling grasslands of Overland Drainage before reaching the postcard-like Overland Lake, home to some of the route’s best campsites. After climbing away from Overland, descend toward Smith and McCutcheon creeks as the alpine scenery yields to a wonderland of Aspen groves punctuated by exploding late-summer wildflowers. From McCutcheon Creek, climb toward Green Mountain and connect with the Jeep road that leads to the trail’s southern terminus at Harrison Pass. The hike concludes with a jaunt through arid terrain scrubbed with sagebrush and Utah junipers.
The trail is traditionally hiked north-to-south in any time from one day to week. Established campsites are sparse alongside the trail, but the terrain is generally favorable for setting up camp in most places except Overland Drainage. Both trailheads are accessible by road: National Forest Road 660 for the northern trailhead at Lamoille Canyon and National Forest Road 113 for the southern trailhead at Harrison Pass. 

-Mapped by Bill Homan, Backpacking In The Ruby Mountains

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 61.2

Waypoints

RCT001

Location: 40.604244, -115.375671

Parking is available in lot next to trailhead. Head south on Ruby Crest Trail.

RCT002

Location: 40.593002, -115.383611

Reach the Dollar Lakes at mile 1.5.

RCT003

Location: 40.593197, -115.390735

Begin the 1.5-mile climb through Liberty Pass (10,444 feet).

RCT004

Location: 40.575761, -115.400648

There are established campsites with fire pits alongside both Favre Lake and Castle Lake, just under 5.5 miles from the trailhead. Bear left to access the lakes.

RCT005

Location: 40.574196, -115.404768

Cross Kleckner Creek and begin climbing away from Favre Lake toward Wines Peak. You'll gain nearly 1,400 feet of elevation over the next 3.8 miles.

RCT006

Location: 40.560732, -115.403159

Fill up water bottles here at North Furlong Creek. The next water source is at Overland Creek, 9 miles south. There are campsites along the shores of North Furlong Lake below.

RCT007

Location: 40.54857, -115.40554

Reach Wines Peak (10,863 feet). The next 4.3 miles of trail, which snake through terrain above 10,000 feet, provides access to plenty of flat, open ground for camping.

RCT008

Location: 40.496146, -115.433908

In 0.5 mile, you'll drop into the Overland Drainage. Terrain conducive to camping is all but nonexistent between here and Overland Lake (5.3 miles away).

RCT009

Location: 40.487432, -115.45352

Refill water bottles at this stream.

RCT010

Location: 40.460499, -115.455408

Some of the route's best campsites are perched along the banks of Overland Lake. Water is also available here, though some hikers find it easier to fill up at the smaller lake 0.3 mile up the trail.

RCT011

Location: 40.438749, -115.510098

Water and camping are available as the trail crosses the South Fork of Smith Creek.

RCT012

Location: 40.369763, -115.510769

Bear left at the Y-junction to pick up the jeep road.

RCT013

Location: 40.325248, -115.511284

Harrison Pass marks the trail's southern terminus.

Dollar Lakes

Location: 40.593621, -115.388138

The Dollar Lakes are the first of many for hikers heading south along the trail.

Trailhead

Location: 40.604223, -115.375489

The Ruby Crest Trail's northern trailhead lies in Lamoille Canyon.

Liberty Pass Vistas

Location: 40.584219, -115.393782

From the south side of Liberty Pass, enjoy vistas of Liberty Lake and Wines Peak.

Wines Peak

Location: 40.562982, -115.406291

Notch views of Wines Peak as you push south.

Mountain Goats

Location: 40.532328, -115.40803

Mountain goats frequent the high-altitude terrain near Wines Peak.

Ridgeline Vista

Location: 40.538525, -115.410047

Looking toward the middle fork of Mahogany Creek.

Southward Ridge Vistas

Location: 40.528675, -115.410583

Looking south down the trail.

Coyote

Location: 40.49657, -115.43365

Looking South

Location: 40.494155, -115.43777

At mile 15, gain spectacular valley vistas before heading downhill and into the Overland Drainage.

Mule Deer

Location: 40.483711, -115.454292

Small Lake

Location: 40.456858, -115.458477

Just north of Overland Lake.

Overland Lake

Location: 40.454132, -115.461481

Northern vista of Overland Lake.

Campsite

Location: 40.452825, -115.465751

There are several campsites peppered alongside the trail. This site rests above Overland Lake at mile 21.5.

Wildflowers

Location: 40.455617, -115.469323

Descent through wild-flower dotted meadows en route to North Fork Smith Creek.

Green Mountain

Location: 40.427022, -115.508494

Heading south toward Green Mountain.

Wildflowers

Location: 40.374209, -115.512357

Junction

Location: 40.369272, -115.510168

The trail turns to a jeep road here.

Junction

Location: 40.358351, -115.493817

Pass this bulletin board at the junction with National Forest Road 111.

Harrison Pass Panorama

Location: 40.337075, -115.504965

Looking south toward this route's southern terminus at Harrison Pass.

Harrison Pass Trailhead

Location: 40.325477, -115.511155

The route's southern terminus.