Highland Peak • Range Highpoint: Highland Mountains
• Central Lincoln County

Date: August 3, 2009 • Elevation: 9,395 feet • Prominence: 3,275 feet • Distance: 4 miles • Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes • Gain: 1,250 feet • Conditions: Warm, clear • Teammates: Just me


Highland Peak from
Delamar Valley & US-93


As seen from Cathedral
Gorge State Park


My starting point


The road sits smack
on the ridge


Finally, the summit


The towers...


...and the actual top


Looking back at my route.

Nevada PageMain Page

Summitpost


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Highland Peak is located near Pioche, Nevada, a small mining town about three hours' drive from the Las Vegas area. I had two peaks on the agenda, Mount Wilson and this one. Both have good roads to their respective summits. This was by design, as I was nursing a badly-strained ankle and could not walk on rough terrain.

I left my parents' place in Henderson before dawn this morning, arriving to the Pioche area around 9 a.m.. I first headed east and drove to Mount Wilson. The hikes there were short, and the whole journey lasted barely three hours. I was back in Pioche around noon, now setting my sights on Highland Peak.

Highland Peak is the pre-eminent mountain for this part of Nevada. It has the highest elevation and prominence of all mountains located in southern Lincoln County, roughly anything within 40 miles of Pioche. A year ago, my dad and I drove roads toward Highland Peak while returning to Henderson from Ely. Communication towers sit atop the summit ridge, which is not surprising, resulting in a decent road to the top. I was not the least bit bothered by hiking a road, especially in consideration of my ankle.

After my descent from Mount Wilson, I arrived back onto US-93 north of Pioche at its junction with state route NV-320, which is a loop highway off of US-93 leading to the old ghost town of Caselton. I crossed US-93 onto NV-320 and followed this road west, then south, for 2.5 miles. I turned right (west) onto a dirt road. My intent was to scout this road farther for the hike, which I was saving for tomorrow morning. There are other roads in the area but this one is clearly the principal road, and it obviously heads into the canyon that eventually lead up to Highland Peak. I followed this road in another 1.5 miles to a Y-junction. I went right to scout one possible route up Power Line Canyon, but it soon became clear this way was not a desired option, although I had the pleasure of coming upon two wild horses ambling alongside the road.

Back to the Y-junction, I went in on the other main road down and up an arroyo, past a garage building, then south and west up Anderson Canyon. Many side roads cross this main road, but the main road is always obvious, including power lines that line this road for much of the way into the canyon. The road narrows but is still quite good, coming to a sharp right bend 2.8 miles from the Y-junction. To me, getting to this point was important since I had assumed this would be as far as I could get safely, mentally preparing myself to hike the remainder of the road if need be. This bend is at 7,700 feet and about 3 miles from the summit.

Much to my surprise, the road looked good, so I continued on, driving up 4 or 5 switchbacks and arriving to a flat stretch at elevation 8,150 feet. It was about 1 p.m. when I arrived here, the weather warm and still, with Highland Peak visible to the south. It was still early, so I decided to hike now rather than tomorrow. Comments on the road: High clearance should be adequate to get up to the saddle at 8,150 feet. The road is regularly graded and has no real obstacles, but it is steep and sometimes rubbly. I had no trouble getting up in my truck. In fact, the road looks good all the way to the summit. It's a far better road than most tower-access roads I have seen.

I was already dressed for the dance, so to speak, so all I needed to do was put water bottles into my pack and lock everything up, and go on my way. It was warm, even at 8,150 feet, probably about 80 degrees, but still with lots of insects. The hike to the summit follows the road. An initial steep grind gains about 500 feet to meet up with the main range crest, followed by a short stretch of flat hiking with a little descent of 30 feet to a low point north of the summit. From here, it's a steep but quick hike up the road to the top. I took a couple of breaks, enjoying a soft breeze that finally came up once I was on the main range crest. The road would sometimes drop onto the west-facing slopes, which featured a little more greenery and stands of sparse pine, while the east-facing slopes featured more hardier desert-like scrub, a localized "rain shadow" effect.

The road crests a small pass north of the summit, at which time the towers on the south end of the summit ridge come into view, and behind them, the bare rocky highpoint. I made the top in 1 hour, 40 minutes, a gain of about 1,250 feet covering two miles. My ankle was feeling good, but the real test for the ankle would be on the descent. I walked past the last of the communications towers to the summit itself, where I sat and took a break. Not surprisingly, I had all four bars on my cell phone. I sent texts to my wife and folks letting them know I was alive. Irish Peak, Chokecherry Peak and big Troy Peak were to the south and west. Mount Wilson was to the northeast. Way off to the north was mighty Wheeler Peak.

On the hike down, I inspected a small hump of rock along the road that looked like it could be as high as the presumptoive highpoint, but it was clearly lower after sighting back. I did not visit the slightly lower, more forested points on the north end of the ridge. The hike down went fine, taking an hour to descend back to my truck. My ankle did fine but rolled once within the first few steps, but fortunately I caught it and nothing bad happened. I was back to my truck slightly before 4 p.m., happy to have completed Highland Peak today and pleased the roads had been so gentle.

I carefully drove down the switchbacks and the highway to Pioche, looking to stay at its one historic hotel along its main street, but they wanted a small fortune for it. Instead, I spent some time walking up and down the main street, getting photos and reading the historic signs. I decided to drive down into Panaca to get gas, food and drinks. I stayed the night at Cathedral Gorge State Park, where they had a good campground and showers, plus being a Sunday, no one was there. I hiked the canyons and slots in the park the next morning.

Things had gone well for me today, and I had completed both hikes in one day instead of two, giving me an open date for tomorrow to laze about, do some explorations and make the easy drive into St. George, Utah. You can read all about this, plus my third hike of the trip up Scrub Peak, by clicking here.

(c) 2008, 2016 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.