Miller Mountain is found in west central Nevada not far from the Nevada-California border. Miller Mountain is the highest mountain of the Candelaria Hills are a mountain range in Mineral County, Nevada and was the location of Francis "Borax" Smith's board-and-batten cabin where he lived when he discovered a rich borax deposit at nearby Teel's Marsh.
With over 2400' of prominence, Miller Mountain is the 105th most prominent peak in the state of Nevada and is the reason why I was interested in getting to the summit of this mountain. When Dennis Poulin made his ascent of the mountain in 2011, there had only been 8 visitors to the summit in the previous 13 years. The interest in prominence peakbagging was just in its infancy and many of those who had climbed the mountain were interested in Miller since it was the range highpoint of the Candelaria Hills range. With the growing interest in the prominence aspect of a mountain, 8 more had visited the mountain after Dennis had in the past two years and 3 of those eight were involved in my group.
One of the great things about mountains in Nevada is that so many of them offer a "feel" of adventure and generally it is rare (with a few exceptions) to run into another visitor during your visit. Plan accordingly and be prepared to be totally self reliant. Thanks to resources like peakbagger.com and lists of John, and now this page on summitpost, information about this peak is now available. I'd ask those who visit this mountain to please sign the register log here and add information about your visit.
Miller Mountain was named after H.B. Miller, organizer of one of the nearby mining districts in 1881.
Getting ThereSee I-touch map HERE
From Tonopah Nevada, head west on US 6 around 62 miles or so. When you get to the junction of US 6 and Nv 264, you only have a bit more than 2.6 miles to the turnoff you need to find. It is very difficult to find in the dark since it is unsigned and the road drops down from the pavement. I found this waypoint to be very helpful (38.0158 118.2416 elev 6235). Another help is the fact that the dirt road you seek is 1.2 miles from the Esmerelda/Mineral county line sign. In the picure of where we car camped for the night, you can get a bit more of a feel for what the terrain looks like. We were car camped about 200 feet off of the US 6 pavement.
From Bishop California, take US 6 north and then east, passing through the small berg of Benton and then crossing the California/Nevada border as you head for the waypoint shown above. Roughly, from Bishop to the turnoff is about 56 miles. A helpful tidbit that Dennis mentioned was that the turnoff is 2.0 miles east of the Hwy 6 and Hwy 360 junction.
From the turnoff on the dirt road, drop down a bit off of US 6, then up (see car camping pic), drive 1.4 miles where you find a junction with a road to the right, go straight, and at 2.4 miles stop where the road ends at a wide wash, elevation 6,400 ft. The road is rough enough to require high clearance but at the time of our visit, we did not need 4WD. You can leave a passenger car near US 6 and walk in from there.
A great map resource is the mapbook of Nevada by Benchmark. I have found this to be invaluable in planning as it offers decent detail and is well worth the money. Available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble as well as at many truck stops, this is well worth the investment if you plan to do any traveling in the state of Nevada. Of course, there is no substitute for topo's but this will be a great overall help.
Another nice resource that you can find on the internet is the I-touch map HERE
It gives a nice way to see the area that is just a couple clicks away.
RouteWe followed Dennis Poulin's trip report that he post on peakbagger.com and Ken had Dennis's GPS track downloaded to his GPS device. His route worked perfect for us and with his permission I can share it here with you. From where we parked at the end of the jeep road, find your way into the wash just beyond:
"Hike up this unnamed wash. The footing is good and 90% of the wash is sandy gravel. This wash snakes up Miller Mtn by first going east, then north, then east, and then again north towards the summit. Always stay in the main wash, ignore the smaller branches. There are a couple of small dry waterfalls to climb up and some trees to climb around, but generally it is just a nice hike up the canyon. When you get to 7,600 ft leave the wash to the right and climb the south ridge of Miller Mtn through a forest of Pinyon Pines. It looks like th whole mountain was clear cut back in the 1880's for the nearby mining industry and the boom town associated with the mining. The stumps are still in place and continue to rot away. It takes a long time for the stumps to rot in the desert. I found that my GPS was handy in finding my way back down to the proper drainage for the hike out. The pine trees limit the visibility and all the drainages look similar. The views from the summit are good. There is an original upright wooden tripod on the summit used by surveyors to place the benchmark in 1950. Great views of thhe White Mountains especially Mt Montgomery and the High Sierra's behind the White's."
Thanks again to Dennis for sharing his information, that is really appreciated by those of us who benefited from it and we found it to be spot on.
Round trip mileage: 8 miles Elevation gain 2300'
We found a register that was placed by Gordon MacLeod and Barbara Lilley in 1998 with Bill Sanders added to the initial page. Then others that signed in that I knew by name were Tom Roundtree in 2002, John Vitz, Bob Sumner and Dan Palmer in 2004. 2008 found John Stolk and John Strand and Brad Boester signing in and then a gap until Dennis Poulin signed in in 2011. 2012 found signatures from Andy Martin and Richard Carey with 2013 a banner year with Bob Packard, Bill Peters, Adam Helman, myself, Ken Jones and Al Sandorf. I noted on List of John that John Ide also climbed it but I don't know the date of his visit.
Red TapeNone that I am aware of. This area is all BLM land and there were no indications that we needed any special permits or permission.
CampingCar camping is about the only smart way to do this mountain since it is located a good distance from most towns or campgrounds. However, both Bishop California and Tonopah Nevada have motels and facilities that can accomodate those who do not want to camp.
I joined up with Ken Jones of Seattle and Al Sandorf of South Lake Tahoe (Ca) and we car camped out together near the turnoff from the pavement in early Novemeber of 2013. Temperatures at night plummeted down into the teens but no snow was to be dealt with during our visit. You can also car camp at the end of the road if you want to avoid listening to trucks come up the highway during the night. This area is all on BLM land so car camping is allowed but it is necessary to leave as small an impact from your visit as possible. Leave no trash and don't build firerings unless they are already in place. Camping is very primitive in this area.
When to ClimbThis mountain could be climbed in most months that snow isn't a problem. Andy Zdon recommends November to April in his fine book "Desert Summits" but it is probable that weather permitting, this mountain is climbable all year round. Avoid during thunderstorms of course or excessive heat. Carry plenty of water and let others know where you are headed.
Click for weather forecast
Click for weather forecast
My trip reportI made the long drive to Tonopah on November 8th and met Ken Jones there. Ken and I then went out to the dirt track that allows access to a wash on the west side of Miller Peak and car camped just off the pavement for the night. Al Sandorf from the Lake Tahoe area joined us later that evening and while Ken and I slept in our vehicles, Al tented it. The temperature dropped into the low teens for the night and even with my zero degree sleeping bag, it was barely enough to keep me warm. Of course, I was in my truck and not in a tent so it must have been even chillier for Al.
Bright and early the next morning, we drove up the roughening jeep track to the end of the road and found the wash that Dennis Poulin had mentioned in his report. The wash was straightforward and relatively easy and while it wound back and forth a lot, it was much easier then trying to strike out up the mountainside toward the summit. It gained elevation steadily but with the three of us chatting all the way, it went seemingly fast. After following the wash for three miles, we found the spot where Dennis left the wash (he had placed a small cairn there) and started up cross country toward the peak. We found a lot of stumps along our route which indicated that probably a 100 years or more earlier, miners had done quite a bit of logging in order to get the wood they needed for their mines and other needs. Ken had downloaded Dennis's GPS track and we followed it right up to the summit. The summit wasn't a beauty spot but it did have some nice views. What we found was a cairn, a benchmark, a still standing wooden tripod and a register. After signing in to the register and reading its contents, I snapped a few pics and soon it was time to retrace our steps back toward our vehicles.
We had a great day together and all too soon it was time to return to the vehicles and head our separate ways. Ken was making the long drive back to Seattle and Al and I would head further south to get into position to climb Piper Peak the next day. Al and I car camped again that night and had found a place in Dyer that made a nice sandwich for our dinner.
Nearby prominence peaks to considerIt is a great opportunity to also plan for doing other prominence peaks that are nearby and I'd like to make a few recommendations:
1. Piper Peak - Over 4000 feet of prominence
2. Blue Dick Peak - you could drive to the top of this one
3. Lone Mountain near Tonopah
4. Boundary Peak - highest peak in Nevada, a county highpoint
There are others too but these would be good ones to consider.