Knoll Mountain is a north-south trending ridge seven miles in length in a very remote region of northeastern Nevada. The summit, 8,760 feet in elevation, is 39 miles north-northeast of the town of Wells. With 2,790 feet of prominence, Knoll Mountain ranks #80 of Nevada’s 172 prominent peaks. Knoll Mountain takes its name from a Mr. Knoll, who co-organized the Alabama Mining District in 1871 after discovering silver on nearby Blanchard Mountain.
Considering its stature, Knoll Mountain is an easy summit, with the drive to get there being perhaps the greatest challenge. With the heavy precipitation that the area saw in the spring of 2009, I expected to encounter some difficulties with access. Although I saw areas of erosion in various places on the access roads, there were no washouts.
With the exception of some areas in the northern and eastern slopes of the ridge that fall under private ownership, Knoll Mountain, including the summit, is located on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
Very few people wander into this country. Even fewer find their way to the top of Knoll Mountain. A summit register was placed there by a pair of hikers in August 1999. This was followed by one summit in 2001, one in 2004, two in 2007, one in 2008. You should find the summit register in a glass jar secured within the confines of a small rock pile. Endless mountain ranges can be seen from the summit, but what really dominates the view atop Knoll Mountain is the vast and sparsely populated landscape below.
Getting ThereFrom Highway 93 39 miles north of Wells and 23 miles south of Jackpot, turn right onto County Highway 771 and head east towards Knoll Mountain. This junction is marked with a "Knoll Creek Ranch" sign. CH-771 is a dirt road and you’ll travel a total of 12.4 miles on this and associated access roads to reach the point where you can begin your hike.
Although the vast majority of land in this area is public, a good stretch of the drive is privately owned - make sure you stay on designated roads. After about 7 miles or so, CH-771 becomes a 4WD road and there are some areas where the vegetation in the center of the two-track road is so dense and tall (4+ feet) that it can be difficult to see the road. There is rangeland throughout the area, and though it’s not open that I’m aware of, please drive with caution as cattle can breach fence lines. There are two gates of the Knoll Creek Ranch that you must pass through in the latter part of the driving route; please make sure that you close and secure them behind you.
Although 4WD is not required for the vehicle route, erosion, vegetation and deep ruts make high clearance a must. Also, once the vegetation dries up, fire danger will increase markedly. With this in mind, be extremely careful where you stop your vehicle, particularly on the two-track roads. You don’t want to be the person who starts a range fire with their vehicle.
There are two intersections on this route where, because of the appearance of the road, you'll be tempted to go left when you should stay to the right. These points (41.64752, -114.67655 and 41.64385, -114.6429) are identified on map 2 of 3 below and will hopefully spare you of some wrong turns.
When you reach the saddle just south of Point 8,609, pull off to the side of the Jeep trail and park.
The below topographic maps show the driving and hiking route for Knoll Mountain.
RouteThe route to the summit of Knoll Mountain is very direct. From the parking area, follow the two-track road up the south slope toward the radio tower, which won’t be visible from this point of the route. Pass through the gate near the top, close it behind you, and follow the faint two-track road along the fence line to the right. This leads down to a saddle where you’ll continue south up the final slope before reaching the summit.
This route is 2.6 miles RT with a net elevation gain of 507 feet. With the ups and downs factored in, there is a gross elevation gain of 787 feet on the ascent, 280 feet on the descent, and a total gross gain of 1,067 feet. See map 3 of 3 in the Getting There section for a track of this route.