OverviewA major summit in the Toiyabe Range of Central Nevada, and the highest point in Lander County, Nevada. Due to its remoteness, no more than a couple dozen people climb it yearly. The log, as of 2002, contained names as far back as the early 90s, and averaged out to sometimes less than 10 visits a year. In recent years its profile has risen due to its status as the highpoint of Lander County and as a so-named 'P2K' peak (a peak with 2,000 feet of minimum prominence). It is a testament to the grandness of the Toiyabe Range that a peak as massive as Bunker (and it is when you see it) is just one of four highly prominent peaks in the range, the most prominent being Arc Dome to the south. In dry conditions this is a fun, non-technical day hike amid high open sage slopes. There is no trail, but cross country navigation is very easy - a great 'beginner' peak for cross-country landform navigation.
Getting ThereFrom Reno, it is about a 170 mile drive along US-50 to get to the community of Austin, tucked into a canyon on the Toiyabe Range's west slopes. From Austin, drive 14 miles east up and over the passes to NV-376. Turn right (south) onto NV-376 and follow it about another 14 miles to the community of Kingston. Although there are many roads in this area, stay on the main paved local roads into Kingston and drive past the general store and into the mountains (this will be obvious when you are there). The road turns to good dirt. Follow this dirt road about another 9 miles up to a pass about 4 air-miles north of the summit. The last little bit may be too steep and rocky for most passenger vehicles. Snow lingers into June. Have maps handy.
Note on getting to Austin itself: if you like solitude and stark desert beauty, this road has both. There are very few towns along the way. As a result, gas up whenever possible (Cold Springs is the last gas opportunity on US-50, about 50 miles west of Austin). Austin used to be the county seat of Lander county and has many old buildings still in town. Today, it's a small outpost with a full-time population of about 300. Mountain Biking is popular in town.
Update, June 2008 (thanks to "A Bit"): All that remains of the gas station at Cold Springs is a burned out gas pump. The nearest gas is in Austin, NV. There are two stations, both with prices at about what you'll find way down the road in Fallon. As always, while in Nevada, plan ahead & watch that gas gauge!
Red TapeNo permits are required. No private property is crossed. The Forest Service in Austin (west side of town, signed) appreciates if you stop in before or after to say hi and to offer reports on conditions. They have an optional log that can be signed.
When To ClimbBest time is late June to about late September. Snow lingers until June and can make some sections technical. I went in mid-May of a light snow year (2002) but even then still had to contend with some icy bits and some slushy steep sections near the top.
CampingLow-impact camping is allowed. Some pullouts are found along the dirt road nearing the trailhead - I found some secluded spots in an area of reeds that had obviously been used in the past for camping. There are no developed campsites immediately near the trailhead. Austin has a few cheap motels and groceries - limited, but reasonable. For the size of the town, it's pretty much the only sizable place for hundreds of square miles. Kingston is barely a blip - a few homes, some prefab, and no real business district.
Mountain ConditionsThe Forest Service in Austin may have updated info as provided by hikers. Due to the small numbers who climb it you may have to judge for yourself.
- Bunker Hill - Lander County NV Highpoint (www.surgent.net) My trip from 2002.
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]