OverviewWith close to 3200 feet of prominence, Cain Peak was definitely one of the peaks on our list for the late October weekend that we planned to visit Nevada. We started off on friday climbing Sonora Peak near Winnemucca and followed that on Saturday with a climb of Adam Peak also near Winnemucca. Cain Peak was our third peak on our priority list and one that we had wanted to visit ever since we had looked at it from the summit of Moses Peak, just to the north. We looked closely at the route that BradB had mentioned on his Cain Peak page but we wanted to get a bit closer to maximize our daylight. I remembered that John Vitz had provided a short description of how he accessed the peak and fortunately still had that information in my files.
John Vitz was able to get to the summit using a jeep road that led to a ridgeline that started at 6300 feet. It was John's route (see below) that we used to get to what became our trailhead. From there the route is straightforward as it follows the northeast ridge up to a plateau like area that heads northwest toward the summit area. See the GPX track provided by Ken Jones on peakbagger.com. There is a summit plateau that makes this mountain feel rather unique as you find on this plateau that wild horses and cattle that somehow manage to find their way up to the area. This would indicate that there must be another and probably easier way up but in studying the map, it would appear that the horse and cattle route must come up from the south. Perhaps some future visitor will be able to find their way up from the south and share it here at summitpost.
Getting ThereGetting to Home Station Gap was the key to finding the correct road that heads south. The directions on the main page helped us find our way to Home Station Gap. I've added a map that waypoints both the turnoff from highway 305 and at the place where you need to turn north to get to Home Station Gap when the main road turns to the south. Once at the Gap, take the road that bends back a bit and heads south, (don't cross the cattle guard or take the fenceline road) staying on this road for 2.2 miles (waypointed on map), taking the lesser road at a right fork. This road heads west and after a mile, look for a jeep track (waypointed on map) that heads northwest and follow it for about 2.7 miles to its highest point at 6300 feet and park off the road in an obvious spot. The jeep track is extremely primitive and requires 4WD and high clearance. If you don't feel comfortable driving this jeep track, you could park near its beginning and walk from that point. It would add close to six miles round trip and 1200 feet but it might be worth it to do so. I nursed my Tacoma up the deteriorating road which turns out to be a corridor between two sections of a wilderness study area as indicated by the BLM signage that we passed on our way. From highway 305 to where we parked was around 21 miles with the last section being pretty poor.
Route DescriptionFrom where we parked to the summit area, it was three miles with close to 2250' of elevation gain overall. We made our way up the ridge and stayed to the left as we worked our way past the cliffy rocky areas and aimed for point 7881 as shown on our topo map. Nothing was harder than class two and we found it easy to find our way. It helps to pay attention however since on the way down it would be easy to get off course. Marking a couple key areas with cairns or GPS waypoints would be a good idea although we were able to pretty much follow our own footprints on the way back down.
Once on the plateau area at around 8000 feet, it was close to a mile over to the highpoint, located to the northwest. We found a cairn with a register and nearby a central benchmark as well as a witness benchmark. The name on the benchmarks was Cain Creek. Excellent views in all directions and a feeling of the immensity of this part of Nevada.
Here is the information as provided by John Vitz:
"2.2 miles south of Home Station Gap, a poor road heads towards the
peak. Take the right fork after one mile and continue another
2.7 miles to where the road starts downhill. Hike the ridge
south to the summit plateau passing over point 7881 and then
head west to the high point."