Place Name: Washoe County
Place Description: State: Nevada
Elevation: 8,182 Feet
Prominence: 3,509 Feet
Elevation Gain: 4,449 Feet
Lists: Great Basin, Nevada Peaks Club, Western States Climbers
Jaw Dropping Views
When starting this hike you have a long way to climb up burnt and open Great Basin terrain. As beautiful as it is, once you crest the ridge and see Pyramid Lake, your jaw will drop. The summit and the lake make a fantastic pair and the 100 mile views aren’t bad either.
- Amazing views
- Gentle terrain
- Easy road access
- Terrain is burnt
- Wild horse dung everywhere
- It’s hard to find cons!
Simply put, from a distance, Tohakum Peak looks like a bad ass mountain. For a mountain that can be seen towering over the eastern shore of Pyramid Lake all the way from Reno, Tohakum Peak sees very little foot traffic. In fact, on my visit, we were only the 4th group to sign the register in the past 14 months.
Prior to setting out for Tohakum Peak, one first needs to purchase a day-use permit from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe online. The main approach to Tohakum is from the east along NV-447 which connects Interstate 80 to Gerlach, NV. Follow NV-447 north between the Lake Range and dry Winnemucca Lake until a left turn onto Nugent Canyon Rd, which is unsigned.
You will follow this road a couple miles east towards the peak and park at a closed gate. There is an old trailer parked further up the road that appeared to be a seasonal dwelling. We didn’t want to disturb so we stayed outside the gate.
The stats for this hike seem a bit daunting at first. From the parking spot, it’s every bit of 5 miles and 4,000 feet of gain to the summit. You can see the peak from the start and it looks far off. The terrain is rolling hills and deep gullies with yellow grass and very little brush. The Tohakum 2 fire in 2017 really did a number on this range and has made route finding very easy.
We set out along the fence line and up an initial hill that will get the blood flowing. In fact, there are quite a few hills to get your blood pumping, but overall, the terrain is gentle and not very steep, if you just keep plugging away, you will be through the lower lands and gaining the ridge in no time.
There are horse trails everywhere along the route and these can be used to make for some very easy walking. In fact, we jumped two horses and watched them trot away over the next hill.
The higher up you get, larger rock formations start to show up and eventually the ridge is gained where we cold winds and beautiful views blasted us. The view of Pyramid Lake is breathtaking.
Once the ridge is gained, there are two options. Stay on the ridge which is easy walking at first but leads into some rocks with cliffs on the sides, or dip down the west side below the cliffs. Our GPS tracks showed most dipped below, however, we stayed on top. The ridge started out gentle but led into some class 2+ terrain. There is no exposure, but you will be downclimbing rock all the way to the saddle. In fact, when we got to the saddle and looked back, what we had come through looked daunting, but it wasn’t that bad. On the return we opted to go along the western side below the cliffs.
I have read many reports that say the summit is class 3. I didn’t see anything other than class 2. It’s a quick jaunt up the rocky summit to the unbelievable views. Pyramid Lake sprawls out below and peaks over 100 miles away spotted. We had a great view of snow capped Lassen Peak to the west and Kumiva Peak to the northeast. The summit views are pretty awesome to say the least and rival those of Kumiva Peak
The Final Word
Tohakum Peak is a fantastic way to spend a day in the Reno area. It took us over 6 hours round trip and definitely made us earn the summit. The terrain is easy to navigate while the horse trails make it easy to walk on, especially during the descent. I would recommend this hike from November to May depending on snow levels, I reckon it would be very hot out there in the summer.
All in all, a great day and another worthy Great Basin Listed peak knocked off!