Looking up Sawyer Canyon
Surely the person who named this Bunker Hill was a person who understated things. This is really much much more than a hill, this is a full fledged mountain that soars over 11,000 feet high. It is also a sought after mountain since it is one of Nevada's 17 county highpoints and also scores high on prominence coming in as #78 on the top 100 Nevada prominence peak list
It is a major summit in the Toiyabe Range of Central Nevada, and as mentioned above, the highest point in Lander County, Nevada. If it were closer to a population center, it'd see tons of ascents yearly but due to its remoteness, no more than a dozen people climb it yearly. The log, as of 2002, contained names as far back as the early 90s, and averaged out to sometimes less than 10 visits a year. It is a testament to the grandness of the Toiyabe Range that a peak as massive as Bunker (and it is when you see it) is just one of four highly prominent peaks in the range, the most prominent being Arc Dome to the south. In dry conditions this is a fun, non-technical day hike amid high open sage slopes. There is no trail, but cross country navigation is very easy - a great 'beginner' peak for cross-country landform navigation.
From Reno, it is about a 170 mile drive along US-50 to get to the community of Austin, tucked into a canyon on the Toiyabe Range's west slopes. From Austin, drive 14 miles east up and over the passes to NV-376. Turn right (south) onto NV-376 and follow it about another 14 miles to the community of Kingston. Although there are many roads in this area, stay on the main paved local roads into Kingston and drive past the general store and into the mountains (this will be obvious when you are there). The road turns to good dirt. Follow this dirt road about another 9 miles up to a pass about 4 air-miles north of the summit. The last little bit may be too steep and rocky for most passenger vehicles. Snow lingers into June. Have maps handy.
From Ely it is about 140 miles or so to Austin but you don't need to go into Austin, just take the Nev. 376 turnoff and go about 14 miles to the turnoff at Kingston. There is gas in Eureka or if coming south from I-80, gas up in Battle Mountain, 90 miles away from Austin. From Las Vegas, head up through Tonopah and turn off from Nev 376 to the Kingston area as mentioned above. Roughly 90 miles from Tonopah to that turnoff but there is gas in Round Mountain and Carvers.
Note on getting to Austin itself: if you like solitude and stark desert beauty, this road has both. There are very few towns along the way. If coming from Fallon, gas up there since it is over 100 miles to Austin from there
| |Bunker Hill | |Our Trailhead | |At the saddle
No permits are required. No private property is crossed. The Forest Service in Austin (west side of town, signed) appreciates if you stop in before or after to say hi and to offer reports on conditions. They have an optional log that can be signed.
Austin Ranger District
Steve Williams, District Ranger
100 Midas Canyon Road
P.O. Box 130
Austin, NV 89310
FAX: (775) 964-1451
Monday through Friday
7:30 am to 4:30 pm
| | Summit ridge | |Antenna structure | |Near the summit
When To Climb / Weather
Scott Surgent's pic of snow conditions
Best time is late June to about late September. Snow lingers until June and can make some sections where crampons, ice axe and common sense would be handy. Thunderstorms can make a visit to the summit a bit dicey so pay attention to the weather and plan accordingly. I went in mid-May of a light snow year (2002) but even then still had to contend with some icy bits and some slushy steep sections near the top. We also barely got off the mountain before a big thunderstorm hit it.
Click for weather forecast
Click for weather forecast
Low-impact camping is allowed. Some pullouts are found along the dirt road nearing the trailhead - I found some secluded spots in an area of reeds that had obviously been used in the past for camping.
There are several small campgrounds in the Austin area and the closest to the trailhead is: Kingston Campground
Big Creek Campground
Bob Scott Campground
San Juan Campground
Austin has a few cheap motels and groceries - limited, but reasonable. For the size of the town, it's pretty much the only sizable place for hundreds of square miles. Kingston is barely a blip - a few homes, some prefab, and no real business district.
Me at the summit
The Forest Service in Austin may have updated info as provided by hikers. Due to the small numbers who climb it you may have to judge for yourself.
| |Looking South | |Looking west | |Looking Northwest