Granite Peak • Highpoint: Humboldt County
• Range Highpoint: Santa Rosa Mountains

Date Climbed
June 23, 2002

9,732 feet

3 miles

3 hours

1,400 feet


Prominence (Rank)
4,397 feet (#18)

Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size version

The peak from near the
town of Paradise Valley
about 20 miles south

Granite Peak from
near our campsite
(Yikes what a crappy photo!)

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Granite Peak is the highest point of the Santa Rosa Mountains in far-north Nevada. It is the highest point in Humboldt County, and apparently not a lengthy hike. Adam Helman and I had teamed to hike a few county highpoints in northern Nevada. I had driven from Arizona in the previous days and hiked White Mountain Peak and Freel Peak by myself, then met with Adam in Reno, and later, Edward Earl to hike Granite Chief in California.

After leaving Edward, Adam and I drove into Nevada and spent the remainder of yesterday driving to the areas east of Desatoya Peak in Churchill County. This we hiked this morning, and it did not take long, so we drove down and spent most of this afternoon driving north through Winnemucca and Paradise Valley. We followed steep but scenic roads into the Santa Rosa Mountains and topped out at a pass called Hinkey Summit. I eased the truck up a scanter side road, and parked it on top of a broad, bare hilltop covered in sage. It was about 4 p.m.

Granite Peak was just a short ways away: no more than two airmiles to the west, if that. We had about three hours of daylight so we decided to go for it now instead of tomorrow morning. From my truck we walked the continuation of the road as it descended slightly into a small basin, where the snowmelt had turned it into a gigantic marsh. We sidestepped what we could and occasionally walked through the wet mud, but in time the road ascended out of this section and worked its way westerly toward Granite, it's impressive cliffy profile standing grandly above us. I have to admit I wondered just how we were supposed to get up the darn thing.

The road ends at a fence line which runs very steeply up a rocky hillside. We went up this hill, then down the other side, now directly below Granite's summit. A fairly obvious ridge comes off the summit to the saddle where we stood, so we followed it and went as far as we could, hoping for the best. The climbing here was easy as the rock naturally formed itself into a series of ledges and pseudo-stairs. brush was moderate but always avoidable, and we in fact made excellent time. At times looking down it looked quite intimidating but at no time was exposure or a fall ever a concern.

We'd been climbing the path of least resistance so far as we could determine, and this led us to the only tricky portion of the ascent. It was a sloping boulder, maybe 8 feet high, but with good holds and minor exposure. It wasn't bad at all and in moments we were above it, now facing an easy, much more level ascent up the final couple of dozen feet to the summit, where we arrived slightly after 5 p.m. We were happy to have been successful on what was a small gamble, and time was on our side. The summit is very rocky with not much room to sit. A small solar-panel and repeater box sit up here, serviced by helicopter. We spent a few minutes up here and looked around, but we both agreed it might be wise to descend sooner than later and celebrate back at the truck.

The descent was not bad at all, and we were off the rocks in no time, and back to my truck a little before 7 p.m. Granite had gone rather well for a late-day, spur-of-the-moment hike. It was pleasantly cool back at the truck, and Adam celebrated his 100th county highpoint (or so we thought) with some Schnapps. The hilltop campsite was marvelous and we had amazing views in all directions. At night it was breezy but still, a very lovely place.

Postscript: After it was discovered Granite Chief was not the actual county highpoint in Placer County, all of our county counts were offset by one, so in truth, Adam's 100th county highpoint would actually occur tomorrow on Star Peak in Pershing County.

(c) 2002, 2011 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.