Place Name: Mineral County
Place Description: State: Nevada
Elevation: 11,280 Feet
Prominence: 3,920 Feet
Elevation Gain: 180 Feet
Lists: Great Basin Peaks List, Nevada County High Points, Nevada Peaks Club List, Great Basin Range5 High Points, Western States Climbers List
An Absolutely Special Place
Lying on US Army property, Mt. Grant is worth every hoops that you need to jump through to gain access. Absolute solitude can be found on one of Nevada’s most dominant peaks.
- Well graded road to top
- Fun scramble to gain summit
- Stunning views
- Not much hiking
- Road to summit is has steep cliffs on shoulder, drive cautious
- Extra work to get a permit (but not that hard)
Typically when planning a summer trip, Hawthorne, NV does not top the list. Or make the top 10, or even 100. There is not much to do out this way except for fishing Walker Lake. However, there is a real treat towering over the small town.
The 11,280-foot Mount Grant dominates the views here. This mountain is not just tall, but with almost 4,000 feet of prominence, it really does look like a giant. Hawthorne is only about an hours away from Bridgeport, CA.
This would actually make a great side trip if you were staying in Lee Vining or Bridgeport. We decided to stay in town and found very clean rooms at $80 per night at the Travel Lodge in Hawthorne.
When planning the trip up Mount Grant, the work started a few weeks prior to my visit. Mount Grant lies on US Army property and access is tightly controlled. Leading up to your trip, I was required to complete a background check and fill out a waiver. When you arrive at the base, you will enter building 15 which is just outside the main gate. They will then go over the rules and give you the key to the locked gate on Cottonwood Canyon Rd. The road is about 10 miles north of Hawthorne at the small community of Walker Lake.
The road starts at around 4,000 feet in elevation and we climbed to around 9,000 feet over the next 9 miles. There is one very narrow section early in the drive through the canyon. After that, it’s wide enough for 2 cars and graded well enough to drive 30mph.
The early stages passed through a canyon filled with willows, aspens, and a few old structures from yesteryear. Around mile 9, you enter very high and wide open country. There is an old rusted sign that says Mount Grant and points to the left.
You will be able to see the steep switchbacks snaking all the way up. This part of the road remains graded well and with the exception of a few small sized rocks on the road (which could be moved), high clearance is never required. However, if you have a fear of heights, this road may make your knees shake.
The final 6 miles drive up the switchbacks with some very steep drop offs just off the shoulder of the road. The road is narrow and if a car came from the other direction, places to turnout and let them pass are few and far between. Thankfully, the gate is locked behind you. The road will take you to a pretty good size turn around at the end, where you will be over 11,000 feet in elevation.
The true summit is at the top of the large rock pile that just seems so out of place, there is no rock anywhere else, but somehow there is a 200-foot rock pile on the summit. This will require some scrambling over some pretty stable rock.
The rock gets larger the higher you climb and to make the summit, it goes from Class 2 to Class 3 scrambling but nothing too difficult. I didn’t let my small kids go up the last 50 feet or so. The views from the top are nothing short of fantastic. To the west, you can see the Sierras from down past Yosemite all the way up the Carson Pass area, punctuated by Hawkins Peak. The view of the Sweetwaters to the west are beautiful as well. To the east, the sun was still glaring, so the views were not as clear, but many Great Basin summits popped into view. Walker Lake directly below was breathtaking.
The drive up and down take about an hour each way, so make sure to plan for this. Wildlife is abundant. Unfortunately we did not see the bears that have been frequenting the area or any deer. Although the real treat was seeing 4 Bighorn Sheep rams down near the gate. We also spotted chukar and quail bursting out of the sage brush.
If you are into big views, wildlife, and solitude, this is a trip not to be missed. If driving up most of the way feels like a cheat, you can participate in the 9/11 Memorial Mt. Grant Challenge each September. This would require 17 miles of hiking and 7,000 feet of elevation gained.