Located 33 miles south-southeast of Elko, Nevada, Green Mountain is a major peak in the central Ruby Mountains. It is perhaps best known in the local area because of its close proximity with the southern trailhead of the popular Ruby Crest Trail and with Harrison Pass, which is the major crossing point in the 70-mile long range.
Green Mountain has an elevation of 10,680 feet and a prominence of 420 feet – hardly a landmark peak in this magnificent range. The mountain is dotted with fir trees and gets its name from the dense evergreen shrubs that cover vast portions of the west and south slopes. It is one on several peaks that form and overlook a cirque to the north, offering a breathtaking vantage into the heart of the Rubies where the highest peaks lie, most notably the 11,387-foot Ruby Dome, the range and county high point.
Those who take the time to summit Green Mountain will be rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views. As I mentioned, the view to the north towards the highest part of the range is breathtaking and alone justifies a trip to the summit. But the views in other directions are also noteworthy. The 10,848-foot Pearl Peak, with a prominence of 3,628 feet, dominates the view to the south. The Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge can be seen to the east of Ruby Lake. Beyond Pearl Peak to the southwest are the alkali flats of Diamond Valley. The range is bounded by Huntington Valley to the west and Ruby Valley to the east, 5,200 feet and 4,700 feet below the summit of Green Mountain, respectively.
Adjacent to a benchmark, a small rock cairn tops the summit with a glass summit register jar placed in a center cavity. The enclosed register was placed there on August 11, 1986 by the venerable duo of Gordon MacLeod and Barbara Lilley. I was surprised that this peak sees relatively few visitors. From the register entries, my daughter Kelly and I were the first for 2010; visitors for preceding years are as follows: 2009 (6), 2008 (2), 2005-2007 (0), 2004 (4), 2003 (2), 2002 (1), 2001 (0), 2000 (5), 1999 (4), 1998 (4), 1997 (4), 1996 (2), 1995 (3), 1994 (0), 1993 (8), 1992 (1), 1991 (5), 1987-1990 (0), 1986 (2)….an average of about 2 per year.
From Elko, take NV-227 (Lamoille Highway) south for 5 miles; in Spring Creek, turn right on NV-228 and go about 3.5 miles past the town of Jiggs; turn left at the Y-intersection onto Harrison Pass Road and follow this east to the pass. The western section of this road was paved in 2009, and the remaining dirt road to the east side of the Rubies is in excellent condition.
At the top of the pass (about 11 miles after the Y-intersection), turn left onto the Forest Service access road. Drive north for 4 miles until you reach a 4-way intersection south of Green Mountain. To get to this point, you will need 4WD and high clearance. Additionally, vegetation growth on either side of the road makes for very narrow passage in some areas that can cause damage to the sides of your vehicle. You can park in the clearing at the 4-way intersection and start your hike, or you can turn right and drive up the 4WD road to the south ridge of Green Mountain. This road is steep, rocky, and loose -- 0.6 miles in length with more than 800 feet of vertical gain. Most 4WD vehicles will probably not make it, but if you do, there’s ample room on the ridge for parking.
These maps could be helpful for the driving and hiking routes.
The starting point for this route is either the 4-way intersection or the top of the ridge. There’s a faint trail on the west side just below the ridgeline. If you don’t see it, you’ll probably pick the trail up early on as it continues along the west side of the ridge before fading out after about half a mile or so.
From a distance, Green Mountain’s route seems so simple….just follow the ridge north to the summit. For the first 1.2 miles of the route, this is exactly the case. Then, multiple rock outcroppings along the ridge, steep slopes, rock slides, and dense evergreen shrubs factor in and present some route finding challenges. I hiked this with my daughter Kelly, and we made the mistake of staying too close to the ridgeline. After some scrambling, we reached a point that was not passable and had to backtrack a bit to the south side of Point 10,318. Just south of Point 10,318, our route traversed the steep east slope of the ridge for a short distance before going upslope and circling around the west side of the point to regain the ridgeline. From here, proceed toward Point 10,527, staying to the left of the ridgeline. The summit is just a quarter-mile up the slope beyond this point. The approach from the south is unspectacular, but brace yourself for the breathtaking view that opens up, especially to the north, as you top the summit.
The route from the south ridge is 4.0 miles roundtrip with a net elevation gain of 1,380 feet. The total gross is 1,679 feet (1,512 feet on ascent and 167 feet on descent). If you’re starting at the 4-way intersection below the ridge, the route is 5.2 miles roundtrip with a net elevation gain of 2,190 feet. This is a Class 1-2 route with some Class 3 sections if slightly altered.
MapsBLM Surface Management Status Quad (1:100K scale) – Ruby Lake
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