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Steamboat Hills Highpoint – Washoe County, Nevada

Steamboat Hills Highpoint – Washoe County, Nevada

Steamboat Hills Highpoint – Washoe County, Nevada

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Nevada, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 39.36712°N / 119.79002°W

Object Title: Steamboat Hills Highpoint – Washoe County, Nevada

County: Washoe

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 6178 ft / 1883 m


Page By: hgrapid

Created/Edited: Dec 23, 2010 / Jul 17, 2013

Object ID: 686914

Hits: 1978 

Page Score: 78.27%  - 9 Votes 

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The summit of the Steamboat Hills from Fawn Lane
The Steamboat Hills Highpoint seen from Fawn Lane.

Situated east of the Mount Rose Wilderness, the Steamboat Hills rise to the south of Reno, Nevada. Easily accessible, it takes less than an hour to reach the twin summits of these hills. The north summit and south summit sit along a ½ mile long ridge, and offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ranges, including the Virginia Range, the Pah Rah Range, and the Pine Nut Mountains to the east, with the Sierra Nevada to the west. More specifically, there are great views of Freel Peak 10,881’, Snow Valley Peak 9,214’, and Mount Rose 10776’ and other peaks in the Mount Rose Wilderness. Outside of these mountain ranges, one can see Tule Peak 8723’ to the north (which is west of Pyramid Lake). Peavine Peak 8266’ stands out prominently to the northwest.

The Steamboat Hills rise independently of all these mountain ranges, which is why the views are so all encompassing.

The Steamboat Hills are so named because they are home to one of the largest thermal anomalies in Nevada. Steam vents out of several areas on the east side of the hills. A series of geothermal power plants on the eastern slope of the hills produce an average of 85 MW for Northern Nevada communities. Ironically, however, the top of these hills generally retain far more snow than even the higher mountains to the east in the Virginia Range. That is because despite the presence of this massive thermal anomaly, hot ground does not extend to the west side of the hills, where the main hiking route resides, and this area is closer to the Sierra Nevada, and gets more of its weather.

Peavine Peak 8266  from the ridge
View to Peavine Peak 8266' from the summit ridge.

Access to the Steamboat Hills is from the edge of a residential area where a dirt parking area enters public land. A jeep road heads to the base of the summit ridge.

The Steamboat Hills are best hiked in late fall, winter, and early spring. As mentioned above, there can be plenty of snow, so try to avoid hiking after a big snowstorm. During the summer, rattlesnakes may be present on the rocky areas and mud can be a problem during late spring. It is advisable to hike only after the noon hour. The reason is because the sun shines on the brown hills providing better views and better visibility.

Getting There

To get to the trailhead, take 395 South to the Mount Rose Highway (Rt. 431). Head west towards the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe, and the ski slopes. Follow the road for 3 ½ miles until you see a sign that shows Fawn Lane on the left. There is no stoplight.

Take a left on Fawn Lane and follow for a mile to the end where there is dirt road and enough space to park.

Once parked, follow the jeep road as it climbs uphill. The road continues to gain elevation until it starts a descent at the north end of the summit ridge. From here, it is a ¼ mile walk up the final 300’ to the north summit. The north summit is the true summit at 6178’. However, the south summit (1/4 mile away) has slightly different views, and is worth checking out. It is only about 1’ lower than the north summit.

Both summits can be reached by hiking about 3 miles round trip and gaining a little over 750’ on the way up.

Looking north to the true summit
View to the true north summit while walking down from the south summit

Red Tape

There is no red tape if approaching from the entrance to federal land. Be cautious of target shooters and make them aware of your presence. Stay away from the electrical equipment to the east, as that is part of the Steamboat Geothermal power plant complex.


Approaching the summit of the Steamboat HillsPeavine Peak 8266\' from the ridgeLooking north to the true summitThe summit of the Steamboat Hills from Fawn LaneHeading up the roadMount Rose 10,776\' from the south summit of the Steamboat HillsThe south summit of the Steamboat Hills
Peavine Peak 8266\' from the summit ridge of the Steamboat Hills. Ophir Hill 7782\' from the Steamboat HillsLouse Benchmark from the Steamboat HillsLooking up at the summit block