OverviewThe Toquima Mountains are one of the countless giant ranges that populate the Great Basin interior of central Nevada, and mighty Mount Jefferson tops the range with a summit elevation approaching 12,000 feet. Overshadowed by the more popular Arc Dome to the west, Mount Jefferson sees its share of hikers due to its gigantic prominence of over 5,800 feet and its status as the highest peak in Nye County.
There are actually three summits comprising "Mount Jefferson". The southernmost is the highest, and the destination given on this page. The other summits can be reached by some sketchy trails and easy cross-country, once you have surmounted the southern highpoint.
A combination of old road, trail and cross-country makes for a straight-shot route to the top. Most people will start at or near "Jefferson Summit" as marked on the map, which is where a forest road achieves the ridge. From here it's about 5.5 miles and 3,000 feet up to the top.
Getting ThereFirst, get yourself to Tonopah, roughly four hours north of Las Vegas on US-95. Be sure to top off the gas and get supplies here because this is it for civilization! From Tonopah, proceed east on US-6 about six miles to NV-376. Turn left (north) and continue about 13 miles to the Belmont/Monitor Valley Road, which heads northeast. This road is paved but in poor shape- some sections are pretty chewed up and it appears the state does no maintenance on this road. Roughly 25 miles later, the road leads to the interesting ghost town of Belmont, set in the southern foothills of the Toquimas. Belmont used to be the Nye county seat and a major mining community. Today it is home to about a dozen people, including one place offering a Bed & Breakfast. For mining and historical enthusiasts, many of the old buildings are still standing. However, there are no services as such in Belmont.
Staying on the main road (now called Monitor Valley Road), leave Belmont and head north another 5 miles or so on a wide, good dirt road. Turn left onto the Meadow Canyon Road and proceed west into the range. Although the road was reasonably well graded, it is narrow (beware of oncoming cars) and in some places, prone to small washouts and ditching. After 8 miles on Meadow Canyon Road, come to a significant Y-junction. I chose to turn left and follow a relatively poor-quality road about another mile to top out at "Jefferson Summit", which is really a pass at about 8,000 feet. At this pass, a two-track wriggles off to the north on up toward the summit, which is visible. Those with a high-clearance vehicle should be able to get in a little bit (maybe a mile), where some flat spots and trees offer a good place to camp.
I did not need 4-wheel drive but did need high clearance for the last mile and a half after the Y-jct. I understand that if one turns right at this Y junction, there is a camping area and a trailhead that also leads to the peak. The advantage of starting from Jefferson Summit Pass is that about 1,000 feet of vertical is removed.
Red TapeThere are no fees or permits; the land is National Forest. Winter snows may shut the road completely.
When To ClimbUsually late May to about October is the best time. This part of the Great Basin is usually very dry but summer thunderstorms (Jul-Aug) could be a concern.
CampingContact the USFS station (number below) to inquire about the camping info for Meadow Canyon. I simply car-camped up on the ridge, where I had everything to myself!
[img:35421:alignleft:medium:By Scott Surgent]
Mountain ConditionsThis number can get you started: The USFS Tonopah District Ranger Station:
- Nye County Highpoint Trip Report - www.surgent.net
My August 2000 hike.
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