Located 22 miles north-northwest of Elko in northeastern Nevada is Nannies Peak, the high point of Lone Mountain, a six-mile-long ridge in the southern Independence Mountains. Lone Mountain is so named because, although part of the Independence Range, it stands alone, bounded to the north by McClellan Creek and to the south by Cold Creek. The naming of Nannies Peak is a question mark.
Nannies Peak has an elevation of 8,780 feet, and with a prominence of 2,280, ranks #123 of Nevada’s 172 prominence peaks. While most locals know where Lone Mountain is, you would be hard pressed to find folks who know where Nannies Peak is – indeed the benchmark on the summit is stamped "LONE." This area is off the beaten path, which makes it even more attractive. It is surrounded by cattle country and like much of this part of the state, has a history linked to mining. Most of the old mining operations were based on the east side of Lone Mountain, but the site to visit is the Rip Van Winkle Mine on the west side, where some of the old structures still remain. There are no active mining operations in this area that I’m aware of.
The majority of Lone Mountain is on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. With the exception of a sizable parcel around the open pit mine located in T.37N, R.53E Sec. 11, the entire upper ridge of Lone Mountain, including Nannies Peak, is on BLM land.
Find the small rock pile on the summit – there was a glass jar in it with a summit register showing two visitors in July 2004, when the register was placed, and a third visitor in May 2007.
Your drive in will take you to the east side of Lone Mountain. Access is good and the hiking route better than the much steeper west side. As a side trip, you could venture over to the west side to see what remains of the Rip Van Winkle Mine.
You will be driving across both private and public (Bureau of Land Management) lands once you leave NV-226. Please stay on designated roads and ensure that you securely close any gates that you pass through. When looking at the USGS 7.5' quad (Reed Station), the best route in appears to be the road running southwest along Fordman Creek. This road is not in good repair and is being overrun with vegetation. The directions on this page will give you the best access into the east side of Lone Mountain.
I did not notice any areas of this route where 4WD was required, although I did put my Jeep into 4H just because it made me feel better. High clearance is always a good idea in places like this, so I would recommend against a passenger car.
Here are the detailed directions for getting to the start point of the hiking route:
- From NV-225 (Mountain City Highway) 22 miles north of Elko, turn onto NV-226 and proceed west for 4 miles.
- Turn onto the gravel road and head southwest for 1.8 miles; turn left and go southeast for 0.4 miles.
- Turn right and head southwest for about 1.5 miles. There’s a gate about a quarter mile after making this turn.
- Turn left onto the Jeep trail and head south for 2 miles. There’s another gate near the end of this stretch. Again, please make sure you close the gates.
- At some point shortly past the gate, find a place to pull off to the side and begin your hike. My stopping point was at 41.13060, -115.95077.
I chose this spot because it placed me on BLM land, T.37N, R.54E Sec. 6. With the exception of a 40-acre private parcel in the southwest quarter, this section is administered by the BLM. I thought it would less intrusive to park my vehicle here than on private land. If you continue too far past the gate, about 0.2 miles, you’ll be in T.37N, R.53E Sec. 1, where the east half of the section falls under private ownership.
Total driving distance from the turnoff from NV-226 is 5.6 miles.
From where you park, start your hike going south, continuing on the road. After about a quarter mile, cut west and leave the road, heading directly for Lone Mountain. Nannies Peak is the highest prominence on the ridge to the left. There are no roads or trails from this point.
This route is generally Class 1 and 2, with Class 3 sections just below the summit on the east side. Dense vegetation, some of it unavoidable, stands of aspen trees, and rock formations and outcroppings present some route finding challenges. Just work your west towards Nannies Peak, altering your route to avoid these areas. Some of it you’ll just have to go through, but it’s not too bad. When you get just below the summit, it’s a different story. The most direct route is to summit from the east. It is a bushwhacker’s paradise, where you’ll have to claw through thick clusters of aspen. There were a couple of areas where scrambling over boulder formations was required, although the exposure was not serious. To avoid this, simply veer left below the summit, working your way to the south, then approach the summit from the south. Doing this not only eliminates the scrambling, but also greatly reduces the bushwhacking factor, where instead you’ll encounter a number of downed trees.
The route map (2 of 2) above in the “Getting There” section includes the GPS track for my descent, which you can refer to if you wish to make the summit from the south.
Route data: 1.9 miles one-way with 1,745 net elevation gain.
Red TapeBLM regulations apply. The driving route requires the use of public access roads through private lands; please stay on the access roads.
CampingThere are no developed campgrounds in the area. Dispersed camping on BLM land is permitted at no cost for a maximum of 14 days at the same location.
Food & LodgingThe small city of Elko, along I-80, is about 22 miles from the Lone Mountain area to the south. Elko’s population is about 22,000, and it is the only city of sizeable mention in the county that will offer some variety. The best place to get gas is at the Maverik, which usually has the lowest price in town, on the corner of Idaho and 11th Street.
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