Granite Peak (Washoe County)
Place Name: Washoe County
Place Description: State: Nevada
Elevation: 8,980 Feet
Prominence: 3,460 Feet
Elevation Gain: 4,439 Feet
Lists: Great Basin Peaks List, Nevada Peaks Club, Western States Climbers Emblem
A Seldom Climbed Mountain In Party Central
The Black Rock Desert outside of Gerlach, NV is party central every year when Burning Man takes place. Granite Peak is huge mountain that will be seen looking west from the playa, however, very few people actually climb to it’s summit.
- Beautiful country
- Great views
- Lots of peace and quiet
- No trails
In an area known mostly for The Burning Man Festival, Granite Peak is a huge mountain that will challenge any day hiker.
While thousands of people see it each year from the festival, less than a dozen tag this peak annually. There are no trail systems and rugged 4×4 roads are the only access to the area. Even though it is mostly climbed by using jeep roads from the east, this report tells how to climb it from the rugged and steeper west side.
As mentioned above, most hikers access this from a long and very rough 4×4 road that comes in from the east side along NV-34. We opted to take the shorter drive and steeper hike. With very little beta on the western side, we drove in from Gerlach on NV-447. This road is paved. We found an unsigned dirt road and turned right, following it across the sage brush for 2.2 miles where there is a good area to park.
The mountain and it’s steep granite wash come right into view and the hike begins.
For starters, there is no trail. Not even a sporadic use trail. This side of the mountain probably doesn’t see much human traffic at all.
The hike started by following the remnants of the road to it’s end and crossing down and out of a wash. From here, the slopes start to steepen and the real climbing begins.
Along the the way you will encounter granite slabs, brush, and some class 2/3 climbing. All of the class 3 can be bypassed if you so choose. This climb is steep and never really lets up.
We climbed all the way up to a little valley high up the mountain. There was a higher ridge line to the west, however we turned north towards the false summit that has a radio antenna.
This next section was the toughest of the day. It starts to get steep and brushy. The brush will cut you up if you are wearing shorts. Mixed in the brush are boulders to climb up and over. We also encountered some snow.
The top of this section leads to the false summit which has a small radio tower on top. From here, the ridge traverse over to the higher peak becomes apparent and is an easy walk over.
After traversing the ridge, climb up towards the high point. There is one rock that sticks out higher than the rest and is pretty hard to actually get on top of completely because it’s so small on the top.
The views from here are fantastic. To the west you can see the Warner Mountains in far northeastern California. To the east, the playa of the Black Rock Desert is laid out in full view. So many other classic Northern Nevada Peaks can be see including Mount Rose, King Lear Peak, Kumiva Peak, and Donnelly Peak. Lassen Peak and Mount Shasta are also viewed easily from here.
The Final Word
Regardless of the route you choose for Granite Peak, it’s gonna be a long day. This seldom climbed west side made for a great adventure and over 4,400 feet of climbing in only 7 miles round trip. That tells you how relentless this climbing is.
This is a great peak and one that is worthy of climbing even if you aren’t a list chaser. The views are quite magnificent and the terrain is beautiful. From what I gather, there are some pretty aspen groves when you come up the east side. So take that into consideration as well.
This section of Nevada is very desolate. There is gas in Gerlach and a great restaurant at Bruno’s Country Club. Check out their raviolis! They are worth the trip out here alone!