The Petersen Mountains High Point is located in northwest Nevada, north of Reno, and near the California/Nevada state line in Washoe County. Highway 395 is just west of Peterson Mountains. The Petersen Mountains High Point is listed as #101 on the Nevada Prominence list with 2,501 ft of prominence. The topography of the Petersen Mountains is Basin and Range and is similar to much of the high desert landscape of northern Nevada with the range aligned almost exactly in a north/south direction.
The Petersen Mountains are on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management Carson City District Office. The BLM has provided a nice trailhead on the east side of the mountain that is used to access the summit. The Petersen Mountains have been designated as a “Natural Area” and is mostly covered in grasses, sage brush, and a few aspens up high. The area is fenced and I think this designation is primarily to keep OHV’s from destroying the fragile landscape.
From the summit you get expansive views west into California and to the south towards Reno. Unfortunately it started snowing on me while I was on the summit and I didn’t get any good pic’s of the views.
For details on the hiking trail see the Route information.
NOTE: This page created by Dennis Poulin with Dean Molen added to update some of the content.
I approached the trailhead for the Petersen Mountains from Red Rock Road which is east of the mountain. Red Rock Road has an exit from Highway 395 north of Reno. Take this exit and go north about 14 miles on this nice paved road to a turn off on the left (west) side of the road that is a gravel road. This isn’t a great road, but I don’t think you need 4WD unless it is wet and muddy. You won’t be able to see the Petersen Mountains to the west until you get to the top of the first hill. Set your trip odometer and go 2.5 miles and turn left. At 3.0 miles take the right fork and at 3.3 miles stay right. At 3.4 miles turn right into the large parking area for the Petersen Mountains.
For an approach from the west, Bob Burd posted a trip report along with a map of how he was able to make the
west side work. See Bob's fine report HERE.
The Summit stuff
Dennis has provided a nice description of his route and a trip report that I recommend reading. His directions were perfect and led me right to the signed trailhead and probably the best route on the mountain. Peakbagger reports that at least 32 people (as of Sept 2015) have ascended this mountain but that only represents peakbagger members. There is a trip report to the left that had a party of 14 people in the group that the trip report covers. Plenty of people I'm sure and with all the new birdhouses that have been placed (at least 5 by my count and I may have not seen them all), it seems likely that this mountain sees many people every year although not all probably go to the actual summit or sign the register.
No red tape for climbing Petersen Mountain. No OHV’s.
Developed camping spots in Nevada are not plentiful because virtually the whole state is open to camping anywhere you want. The closest developed campground that I could find is at Pyramid Lake. In 2008 it cost $20/night to camp at the marina plus a $7 permit fee to access the lake.
There is plenty of room to camp at the trailhead, but there is no water available unless you hike up the hill to the spring. Also, there are plenty of motels in the nearby Reno area.
Backpack camping near the summit is feasible, but bring all the water you need.
The Petersen Mountains are accessible all year round. You must use precautions if you hike in the winter and the summer. The mountains get snow in the winter and if you want to climb in the snow, you should make proper preparations. Avalanches would be a remote happening on this mountain on the route I climbed. During the summer, the weather could be unbearably hot and lightning storms are not unusual. Be wary of thunderclouds and bring lots of water in the summer.
The closest town is Reno to the south.
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