Mount Jefferson (Nevada)
Place Name: Nye County
Place Description: State: Nevada
Elevation: 11,941 Feet
Prominence: 5,861 Feet
Elevation Gain: 4,272 Feet
Lists: Great Basin Peaks List, Ultras of the Lower 48, NV County HP, Nevada Peaks Club, Las Vegas Mountaineers Classics, Western States Climbers List
Central Nevada Giant
Mount Jefferson is the highest summit in Central Nevada and also one of 8 ultra prominent summits in Nevada. Couple that with it being the Nye County High Point and you have the recipe for an awesome peak. If that alone doesn’t get you there, the beautiful terrain of Alta Toquima Wilderness should. Just another awesome slice of heaven we call Nevada!
- Nice trail
- Great views
- Pure solitude
- Long way from everywhere
- Rough roads
- Very exposed trail
The more Nevada peaks I climb, the more I believe they are the best peaks in the west. Mount Jefferson fits right into this theory.
As one of only 57 Ultras in the lower 48 and a county high point, Mount Jefferson of Nevada does see its fair share of visitors. However, based on its remote location, these numbers I’m sure are much less than a peak of such stature in another state.
Finding your way to the Toquima Range which Mount Jefferson dominates is no easy task. Although the long approach roads are generally good, they lead you to the middle of nowhere!
There are two ways to access Mount Jefferson. One can start from a lower elevation and follow trails from the Pine Creek Campground. This will definitely pile on extra gain.
If you have a 4×4, starting at the Jefferson Summit TH is the other option. This road is a bit longer and tougher and will require 4-wheel drive. Even though a 4×4 is needed, the degree of difficulty for this road is pretty moderate. The best part is your trailhead is over 9,500 feet!
From the Jefferson Summit TH, the road ends at the Alta Toquima Wilderness Boundary and turns into a very well defined trail.
By this point you have driven above the tree line and the trail leads across the alpine. It will eventually works it’s way up through some talus and side hilling.
Eventually it will continue along the flanks of Jefferson heading down to the saddle. At some point t you will need to break off to the left in the easy talus to make it to the summit. There was a small use trail that does this, however, it is very easy to miss.
As expected, the summit views are pretty awesome! You can see for 100 miles from the 11,941-foot perch. Arc Dome sits right across the valley to east and the long ridge of Table Mountain sprawls across the Monitor Valley to the east.
To the north lies a huge plateau that has Middle Jefferson and North Jefferson a couple miles away. Normally these would not be worth going after, however, North Jefferson happens to have a place on the Great Basin Peaks List.
Of course we were going to summit North Jefferson. The main issue was having to cross the entire open tundra, summit North Jefferson and then recross the tundra and re-summit Mount Jefferson. Doing this makes for a long and taxing day.
The hike across the plateau is actually very pretty and there is a trail all the way.
As far as summits go, North Jefferson is mostly a letdown. The large summit area does not have great views. Although there is a large cairn and an awesome sheep skull sitting on it!
The return back over Mount Jefferson wasn’t the worst thing ever, although it was tedious.
The Final Word
Mount Jefferson is a really worthy Nevada mountain to hike and very enjoyable. The country is beautiful. Is it as beautiful as the Toiyabes? I wouldn’t go that far, however, you won’t be let down.
There are great places to camp near the roads end, although it can be very windy. The sunset is amazing from here and you can see the lights from Round Mountain in the valley below to let you know that you are still near some sort of civilization.
Shoshone Peak is a very nice looking P2K just to the south that you can climb as a bonus peak. Unfortunately we did not have time to climb this one.
If you are looking for solitude, beautiful views and an awesome peak, Mount Jefferson will check all of those boxes!