Little Smith Valley route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.50810°N / 119.2945°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike / scramble
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 1 and 2
Sign the Climber's Log


For this route, come in from Nv highway 338 (on the east) via FS road 050. Follow this road for about 3.2 miles (it takes a curve to the north) and you'll notice a rough jeep track heading off to the southwest. This is a pretty rough road and unless you have decent clearence, you might be well served to find a spot where you can park on the main road. The elevation here is about 7000 feet but if you can take the jeep road (you'll pass through one gate), you'll save a mile each way and about 500 feet of elevation. Drive until you come to some corrals and park here

Route Description

The Little Smith Valley route:
The trail starts immediately up a draw and passes through a shaded area which will soon be replaced by open trail. The trail heads westward around a ridge and then points you south. After a while you'll pass a tire in the trail and shortly thereafter the trail will curve to your left and swing you off the side of the northern flanks of East Sister. The trail is easy to follow and steady in the elevation gain. Passing through another gate (not closed) you'll continue to gain elevation until you come to the Little Smith Valley. Just keep on the trail as it swings you away from East Sister and then south again. Before the trail is about to top out in elevation look for the draw to the south / southeast and head for it.

It is cross country a third of a mile from here but the way is obvious. The brush is easily manageable and soon you'll be heading up a sparsely wooded draw that strangely enough has a set of tire tracks in it about midway. Keep giong and the way leads up to a large meadow area (est 9600 feet) where it is easy to pick your line up the flanks of Middle Sister. You can avoid a sandy slope by picking your way up the rockier part to the east until you get on the ridge. and head up southerly.

The spot (if you are a county highpointer) you are aiming for is the California / Nevada border marker, a large cairn with a wooden post in the middle. The number 32 is spelled out in nails and the actual Lyon county highpoint is just beyond it to the north. A large outcropping of roacks where a red canister register is placed (near the very top).
Another cairn with a pole in it is very obvious on the ridgeline to the southwest, about 80 feet higher in elevation but you can ignore this one as it is a false alarm. To capture the summit, continue on up the ridge until you find yourself on the rocky summit, views opening to a full 360 degrees.

The distance from the corral area to the summit and back is about 12 miles with an elevation gain of over 3300 feet.

Essential Gear

No special gear but take water in the summer and fall as no streams available. Snowshoes in early spring might be useful.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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