OverviewThis remote, 11218’ peak in the Snake Range is climbed mainly by locals, and by members of the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club, because it appears on the latter’s “50 Classic Peaks” list. The peak is hard to distinguish from a distance, as it tends to fade into the cliffs of the higher Lincoln Peak. Yet the views from the top are dramatic, precisely because of the central location, in the midst of the eastern Snake chaos. In particular, Wheeler Peak presents an impressive profile to the north. The trailless climb is nominally class 2; the two paths described below are mainly over steep but pleasant meadows. However, the hike may skirt some nasty cliffs topped by loose talus. The wooded parts of the trek are generally free from brush, so this hike shouldn’t leave you looking like you’ve been in fight with a bobcat.
Despite its name, Granite Peak is actually composed of sedimentary dolostone. There is a quartz monzonite intrusion well to the east, near the old tungsten mines.
Michael R. Kelsey described this peak in his 1988 book on Great Basin National Park. However, there have been some changes in access since that time, and the routes described below are not those described by Kelsey. Hence I thought this page was justified.
Getting ThereFrom Las Vegas, there are two good highway routes to the start of Lexington Arch Road. The Arch Road is common to both highway routes.
The traditional highway approach is to drive up i-15, then take us-93 to us-6/50 just east of Ely. Then one drives east on 6/50, then south on route 487, to Baker, NV.
Drive south from Baker, NV, through Garrison on Utah Rte 21. Drive south past Preuss Reservoir, and just south of the reservoir near milepost 6, take a right (W) on the road to Lexington Arch. (In the 1988 Kelsey book on Great Basin, it is suggested that you might take the right on the N side of Preuss Reservoir; you can do so, but that is a much worse road.) Now drive W for 8.3 miles, always keeping to the good road, ignoring less-used two-tracks. At 8.3 miles, you will come to a “Y”; the sign points left to Lexington Arch. DO NOT go left to the Arch! Take the right and continue on for about 3.4 miles, along the North Fork of Lexington Creek, to an elevation of ~7750’. The drivable road ends at a collapsed bridge over a sometimes-dry wash. To this point, the road is passable in a 2WD car with decent clearance and power. From here on, the road goes to Hell in a handbasket; there is a deep cut down one side of the road, probably from floods in the rainy 2004 or 2005 seasons. Hence you can’t drive to the Lexington Mill site, as indicated in Kelsey’s 1988 book, but must park about 400’ lower and ~0.7 miles farther away. At this last drivable point, there is room to set up several tents in the road or on the side of the road. Caution: there is another stream crossing, from N to S, about 0.1 to 0.2 miles before the current collapsed bridge. This crossing was drivable in August 2007, but looks like it might go some day soon, perhaps after more heavy rains.
Alternatively, one can approach the Arch Road as follows. Drive from Las Vegas on i-15 NNE up through St George UT, through Cedar City, and then take route 130 north to Milford. At Milford, take route 21 WNW just south of Preuss Reservoir, and turn left (W) on the Lexington Arch Road. This route actually takes a little less time than the traditional path.
Here’s an overview map for the drive in via the Arch Road (left, below), and for the hike (right, below):
Here are a few waypoints, relative to WGS84, for the drive in:
38.874713, -114.003679, "turnLexArchRd" (turn from route 21 onto Lexington Arch Road)
38.857673, -114.160989, "KeepNorth" (the “Y” where one keeps right)
38.857389, -114.215754, "end-drive" (end of drivable road)
The rightmost map above has waypoints for two hiking routes.
Here are waypoints for the hike via the meadow, relative to WGS84:
38.849013, -114.223454, "sw-old-rd"
38.846299, -114.227522, "meadow1"
38.846659, -114.230526, "meadow2"
38.846440, -114.235742, "meadow3"
38.846980, -114.242564, "meadow4"
38.848866, -114.246892, "saddle"
38.847193, -114.247786, "go-west"
38.846339, -114.255100, "sum-ridge"
38.843971, -114.255583, "gran-peak"
And these waypoints are for the optional route up the open ridge north of the meadow, again relative to WGS84:
38.848031, -114.229873, "n-ridge1"
38.849784, -114.233906, "n-ridge2"
38.850164, -114.237786, "n-ridge3"
38.850194, -114.242854, "sidehill2saddl"
From the parking spot, walk up the road 0.6 to 0.7 miles to the old Lexington Mill site. Just after a berm at left, you will see the remaining sheet-metal covered cabin on the SE side of the road (at left).
Another road branches off to the right; DON’T take it. Continue through the meadow by the old cabin, first SSE, then S, then W, then S again. About 0.25 miles from the cabin, a faint road takes off on the right side, uphill, ~SW (waypoint “sw-old-rd”). Follow this road till it ends in a small clearing with an old metal firebox (there in 2007!), and head right through the woods, to the ravine (the woods has a fair amount of deadfall). Walk on the left (S) side of the ravine till the trees begin to clear, then cross to the right side as the terrain allows, to waypoint “meadow1”. At this point, you have two choices: 1) you can continue up the meadow (actually a mix of grass and sage) in the valley; or 2) you can mount the ridge to the right (N) and follow the ridge up to waypoint “n-ridge1” (the northern route on the map above). The meadow route is probably easier. Both routes involve at least 4000’ accumulated elevation gain.
If you follow the meadow, you will want to keep almost due west (geometric), crossing a few drainages and heading up through waypoints “meadow2”, “meadow3” and “meadow4”. Then one reenters conifer woodland, and heads to the saddle (waypoint “saddle”) between peaks 11016 and 10981, as denoted on the USGS 24k topo. At the saddle, head SSW up the ridge, near but not on the northwest cliff of peak 10981. (The view N at this point is impressive, over a deep valley – picture at left, below.) At the crest of the cliff (waypoint “go-west”), but still NNW from the actual 10981 highpoint, you will be able to look west over an easy talus slope down to a whitish, quartzite “causeway” over to the NE corner of Granite (picture at right, below).
After you cross the causeway, continue W then SW to the top of the ridge (waypoint “sum-ridge”). Now follow the east side of the ridge S for ~0.15 miles to the southern and highest peaklet of Granite. The register is located on this peaklet.
If you decided to take the northern ridge route, you would continue from waypoint “n-ridge1” roughly west past “n-ridge2” and “n-ridge3”. Approximately at waypoint “sidehill2saddl”, head left and contour WSW across to “saddle”, and then continue as in the description for the meadow route (above). You may have to downclimb to the south side of the rocky ridge to begin the sidehill.
Kelsey (1988) describes a different route over the southern ridge; this southern route is partly wooded. He describes the meadow route hypothetically, and I’m guessing he never actually tried it.
DISCLAIMER: I haven’t tried these other routes myself. 1) Nick N reports that one can drive (4WD) up Decathon Canyon, to start the hike at a bit higher elevation. 2) The register on Granite contained an entry from a fellow who had made the traverse along the ridge from Washington to Lincoln to Granite. (This fellow happens to be a bike racer and runner, and is probably in excellent condition.) I’ve looked at the connecting ridge from viewpoints on both Granite and Lincoln, and the route looks quite feasible; the roughest stretch would be just before reaching Granite. In fact, this was the route I planned to take to Granite from Lincoln, but I was chased off the Lincoln ridge by a thunderstorm on the previous day.
Michael R. Kelsey published “Hiking and Climbing in the Great Basin National Park” in 1988 (ISBN 0-9605824-8-7). There was a 2nd edition in 1999, but I have never found this update. The more remote roads have generally worsened in condition since his 1988 book. The road to Lexington Arch was recently bladed and appears to be maintained.
Water! Assume this is a dry campground. Kelsey reports that there is a water source near the cabin and pond, but that area was dry as a bone for my visit. Else, this is a class 2 hike, perhaps with bits of class 3 if you go up the north ridge. The trickiest footing may actually be when one descends the steep meadow. The terrain is a bit confusing, so a map and compass are essential (a GPS, and skill in using it, would be better). In the summer, thunderstorms may mount quickly in this region, after about 10AM, so plan for an early start and leave the ridge as soon as possible. Bring the ten essentials.