OverviewNeed a chance to stretch your legs and grab a peak on the way from Reno to Salt Lake City while traveling I-80? This peak might just be the answer since it is not far off of the interstate and a vehicle with reasonable high clearence can get you close (at times, 4WD may be necessary however). Marys Mountain is between Battle Mountain and Elko and also counts as a range highpoint and is the 173rd most prominent peak in Nevada.
Marys Peak was named for the indian wife of an explorer whose identify I was unable to find out. Her name lives on in this area of Nevada and Marys Mountain is very visible from the town of Carlin to the east. Marys Mountain just barely misses being one of Nevada's peaks that has 2000 feet of prominence by one foot according to List of John's informative website and is what is known as an "error range peak". An error range peak is one that is just shy of having the required 2000 feet of prominence but only by less than 40 feet.
From Redsplashman's fine resource of Nevada prominence peaks, I would like to quote the following:
"Nevada is the most mountainous state the United States with 314 named mountain ranges. It has a whopping 172 peaks with a prominence of 2,000 feet or more. This is more than any other state, besides Alaska. Nevada also has 8 Ultra Prominence Peaks within the continental United States. These peaks provide a wide range of difficulty. Some are also very remote. Also, if you include 6 error range peaks, that gives a total of 178 peaks that have at least 2,000 feet of prominence.
This list was compiled using the “mean prominence” value. Peaklist uses its ranking system with this method (172 peaks). However, if you use the “clean prominence” value, then there are only 169 peaks in Nevada with 2,000 feet of prominence. Peakbagger uses this method. In addition, there are also the 6 peaks that are in the “Error Range” of having 2,000 feet of prominence.
Getting ThereFrom either Salt Lake City or Reno, take I-80 to exit 271. There seems to be no good reason for why an off ramp is present but it makes it nice for those who are seeking to hike this mountain. Go north about 2 miles to an intersection that looks like a triangle, go left and then in .1 mile take the right fork up the steep hill. This is one place where you might need 4WD and would be slick or muddy if wet. In another mile pass a couple of high voltage buried cable signs. Continue up the hill another 1.7 miles approaching the towers on Mary's Mtn South. About .1 mile before you get to the towers stop at elevation 7,507 ft. The right fork of the road goes steeply down a hill towards Mary's Mtn. Dennis Poulin hiked from here because it had rained the day before and his advice is to: Only drive down if the road is bone dry, otherwise hike from here. We drove down and parked at a saddle and commenced our hike from that point.
Red TapeNone that I am aware of. For more information, the BLM has an office in nearby Battle Mountain.
BLM Battle Mountain District Office
50 Bastian Road | Battle Mountain NV 89820 | 775-635-4000
Office Hours: 7:30 am - 4:30 pm M-F
CampingYou could probably find several places where you could car camp but it is a short hike and unless you were arriving late in the day, camping would not be necessary for this one. There is no campground in the area but accomodations are available at motels in Elko, Carlin and Battle Mountain.
The hikeWhether you walk from Marys Mountain South (where the communication towers are) or from a saddle near where the road that drops down bottoms out, it is a short hike. From the saddle it is less than a mile and twice that distance from the communications tower area.
From Marys Mountain South: 3.2 miles with 1050' elevation gain.
From the saddle we used: 1/7 miles with 600' elevation gain.
The summit stuffThe summit is the marginally highest spot on a broad plateau that forms the "top" of this mountain. We found a benchmark and a register near a cairn which was built to mark the highest spot. The register was placed in 2004 with entries made in 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Marys Mountain South - A bonus peakMarys Mountain South
With an elevation of 7553 and having a prominence of 493, this little summit that is covered with antenna & communication structures makes for an additional bonus peak. We walked around and checked out the highest spots and found it worth the time to add this one to our visit of the area.