QUICK TAKE: East Humboldt Wilderness, NV
DRIVE TIME: The wilderness is 185 miles (23/4 hours) west of Salt Lake City, Utah, and 250 miles (4 hours) southeast of Boise, Idaho.
THE WAY: From Salt Lake City, follow I-80 west for 175 miles to the West Wells (exit 351). Turn east onto NV 231 and drive 11.5 miles to the trailhead at Angel Lake.
TRAILS: The wilderness contains 38 miles of maintained trail open to hikers and equestrians. On the west side of the range, trails into four parallel canyons called the Boulders make for picturesque streamside hikes, well suited for a pleasant 23-mile, three-day backpack loop.
ELEVATION: The East Humboldts top out at 11,306-foot Hole in the Mountain Peak. Trailheads begin above 6,000 feet.
CAN’T MISS: The serene shores of Smith Lake, and Third Boulder Canyon’s luxuriant foliage and three pristine lakes.
CROWD CONTROL: Away from Angel Lake, backpackers have an ironclad guarantee of solitude, except during fall hunting season.
PIT STOP: Try the authentic Basque cooking at the rustic Star Hotel in downtown Elko.
WALK SOFTLY: Camp in established campsites wherever possible. Also, firewood is scarce, so use a campstove.
MAPS AND GUIDES: The following USGS 7.5-minute quads cover the area: Welcome (for Greys Lake), Humboldt Peak (for Winchell Lake), Secret Valley, and Tent Mountain (for the four Boulder Canyons). Maps are available for $6 each from Map Link, (800) 962-1394. Yours truly has penned Nevada Wilderness Areas & Great Basin National Park: A Hiking & Backpacking Guide (1997; Wilderness Press, Berkeley, CA; 800-443-7227; www.wildernesspress.com; $14.95).
MORE INFORMATION: Ruby Mountains Ranger District, Humboldt National Forest, 140 Pacific Ave., P.O. Box 246, Wells, NV 89835; (775) 752-3357.