Secret Peak is located in the Ruby Mountains of northeastern Nevada and holds the distinction of being the northernmost peak in this beautiful and rugged range. With an elevation of 9,167 feet and prominence of 799 feet (by my calculation), Secret Peak is not one of the higher peaks in the Rubies – 10 summits top the 10,000-foot mark – however, it is a worthy summit objective. Secret Peak lies just outside of the northern boundary of the Ruby Mountains Wilderness area. There is no trail to the top, so routefinding and bushwhacking will be required.
This area of Nevada is very remote and rugged. Elko, the county seat, is the largest town in the area with a population of ~20,000. Small communities are scattered throughout the area.
Getting ThereLike many parts of the Ruby Mountains, including the northern area where Secret Peak lies, access can be a challenge. 4WD and high clearance is a MUST.
From the north: From Interstate 80, take exit 321 to Secret Pass Highway (NV Hwy 229) and proceed in a southeast general direction for about 20 miles. Turn right onto the 4WD road just north of Secret Pass. See below for further directions from this point.
From the south: From U.S. Highway 93, turn onto NV Hwy 229 and proceed west for about 14 miles, where NV 229 will turn to the north. Proceed north about 16 miles, then turn left onto the 4WD road just north of Secret Pass. See below for further directions from this point.
From the 4WD road: There is a large Forest Service marker at the head of this road that, as of November 2007, was just a marker with no information on it. This road may be what is labeled on some topographic maps as Forest Service Road 865A. The road leads to a point roughly 0.8 miles east of Secret Peak and there are some turns that need to be made along the way. Refer to the coordinates in the GPS Coordinates section below for detailed info.
Route to Secret Peak summitThe route to the summit is about 1.5 miles one-way with 1,350 feet elevation gain. When looking up from where you park, a false summit stands out; the actual summit is behind it and to the left. Secret Peak can be a bushwhacker’s dream-come-true. There is no trail, but to avoid a lot of unnecessary bushwacking and the resulting cuts, scrapes, and tears, locate the fenceline north of the 4WD parking area and start from there. Refer to the GPS Coordinates section below for precise position info. Follow this fenceline, which provides the clearest path, up the east slope to the ridge. There is a distinguishable rock formation that you will see on the ridgeline from below and it marks the approximate location where you will gain the east ridge. As you near the east ridgeline that leads to the false summit, you will see the actual summit that lies 0.2 miles northwest of the false summit. Once on the east ridge, the best route is probably cutting across in a northwest direction, passing the summit, then gaining the north ridge and turning south to the summit.
GPS CoordinatesThe following GPS coordinates are provided to assist people in getting to the 4WD parking area and to the summit. All elevations, with the exception of the false summit, were taken from my GPS altimeter.
|Turn RIGHT onto 4WD road||6,344’||40.82070 N||115.20320 W|
|Veer RIGHT||6,707’||40.81727 N||115.22241 W|
|Gardner Creek crossing||6,712’||40.81734 N||115.22289 W|
|Veer RIGHT||6,865’||40.81730 N||115.22974 W|
|Turn LEFT||6,737’||40.81795 N||115.23009 W|
|Veer LEFT||7,605’||40.82181 N||115.24211 W|
|4WD parking||7,815’||40.81841 N||115.24485 W|
|Fenceline (start ascent here)||7,856’||40.81960 N||115.24535 W|
|Fenceline (ends at east ridge)||8,599'||40.82133 N||115.25185 W|
|False summit||~9,014'||40.82054 N||115.25635 W|
CampingThere are no developed camgrounds in this region of the Rubies. Primitive camping permitted, no fees or permits required.
Red TapeUSFS regulations apply.
Food & LodgingThe small cities of Elko or Wells would provide the best options for food and lodging. I’m not too familiar with Wells, but Elko, though not large, is significantly larger than Wells and would have more options.
There are a number of hotels in Elko. I think the best deal in town is at the Stockmen’s Hotel and Casino. As of July 2007, a room with two twin beds went for $39.50. The rooms have AC, refrigerator, bathtub, hairdryer and many have a balcony. The hotel has a nice swimming pool and food is available 24/7 (including 24 hrs. breakfast) in the casino’s restaurant located right next to the hotel lobby. The Stockmen’s is located at 340 Commercial Street in Elko; 775-738-5141.
The Commercial Casino (775-738-3181) is right across the street from the Stockmen’s and their restaurant (the Brand Room) has a great dinner buffet Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm-10pm.
For good Sonoran-style Mexican food, try Sergio's on Idaho St. (between 8th and 9th Streets) in Elko. I've also heard that Sergio's serves the best burgers in the area, but have not tried them. Be careful when ordering as the serving sizes are large.