OverviewMy many standards, a geologic feature called a "hill" sounds less interesting and less significant than a feature with peak, mount, or mountain in its name. In most cases, that might be true. Perhaps even in this scenario, for Ruby Hill, that might even be true. But what separates Ruby Hill from a lot of hills is that it is significant for prominence seekers.
Ruby Hill, despite its modest elevation of 4957', is the 149th-most prominent point in Washington. That might not seem like much at first glance, but the peak (or hill, if you will) has an astounding 1957' of clean prominence and 1997' of optimistic prominence. The percentage of prominence in relation to elevation is 39%, uncommon for such a low elevation peak.
Ruby Hill also has local historical value. The mountain was once the centerpiece for local mining in the area. The peak was home to the mining community of Ruby, of which now only very few stone remnants and several mining holes on the mountain slopes are all that remain. During the late 1880s through early 1890s, Ruby was the most famous silver mining camp in the Northwest. Unfortunately, as was (and still is) common for mining communities, Ruby (and its namesake Ruby Hill) became a virtual ghost town overnight, when during 1893 the price of silver suddenly dropped beyond the worth of mining the ore.
Getting ThereFROM OKANOGAN, WA:
1) Drive west along Highway 20.
2) After 8.8 miles, turn right onto Buzzard Lake Road.
NOTE: Buzzard Lake Road is a sometimes rough gravel road. Although the road conditions might be doable by a standard passenger vehicle, a high-clearance vehicle is great recommended.
3) Follow Buzzard Lake Road for approximately 8.7 miles. A GPS will be very helpful for identifying the exact location.
NOTE: There are no big parking pull-outs along the section of Buzzard Lake Road near Ruby Hill. Instead, there are several possible road sections that are just wide enough to park alongside.
-> One small possible roadside parking section is located ENE of Ruby BM. This is an area along an open slope.
-> One slightly larger possible roadside parking section is located immediately east of Point 4805, approximately 0.2 miles north of the first parking possibility. This is an area under tree-cover.
Buzzard Lake Road also connects to roads located north of Ruby Hill. These roads are not recommended for travel, as the main route leading towards the old site of Ruby and the current township of Conconully passes by China Wall, a narrow sliver of road that is gradually eroding away. Below the narrow section of roadway is a steep drop-off of several hundred feet (but possibly more), and a fall there would be fatal.
RouteStarting from Buzzard Lake Road, assuming one of the two parking areas listed in the "Getting There" section above, head steeply uphill and gradually southwest until reaching the highpoint contenders of Ruby Hill. There are several summit contenders. A USGS Benchmark (stamped as "RUBY") is located atop a large boulder, and is the likeliest location of the highest point.
However, there are also two bumps located a short distance further to the southeast along the ridgetop which could be contenders. The middle bump has the appearance of being the lowest of the three possibilities, but the southeast-most bump could be higher than either. All three locations should be visited, and there is nothing prohibitive for visiting any of them.
ROUNDTRIP HIKING STATISTICS: 1.0-1.4 miles with 400'-500' gain, depending upon starting location. The northern parking spot has slightly more hiking distance and elevation gain.
Red TapeThere is currently no prohibitive signage or fences to park alongside Buzzard Lake Road or to hike Ruby Hill.
When to ClimbTechnically, Ruby Hill can be summited any time of the year. However, the dirt/gravel roads might be snowbound during Witner and Spring months. The road approach also gets flooded in several areas after periods of rainfall.
The peak is best recommended during dry periods from mid-Spring through late-Autumn.
CampingThe nearest "official" campground is "Rock Lakes Campground" located approximately 2.5 miles west of Ruby Hill.
Some backcountry camping might be possible in the area, too, but it is recommended to contact an Okanogan National Forest ranger station for current rules and regulations.