If you favor a longer drive and a shorter hike, then exit US 93 only a little south of Ely to the right (west) on fine-quality dirt roads that are signed "Ward Charcoal Ovens." Keep going south on the main road through Steptoe Valley and about two miles before Bullwhack Summit, go left (east) on another fine BLM road that eventually connects to 93. But long before that, take the signed south branch to Robber's Roost Basin. This road eventually branches right and up to the Schell Creek Range summit ridge. You can park just north of Mt. Grafton--this is a spectacular car camping site--and hike the crest to the summit. I did it and made my 4 o'clock appointment with an Ely realtor the same day. But you are right to say that this peak requires care. Because there are so many trees, rare for Nevada peaks, it is actually possible to get off-route on the descent. Stay on the ridge crest and all will be well. Anyway, the photo I'm posting shows a hazy Mt. Grafton looking south from somewhere in Robber's Roost Basin and the excellent dirt road to just below the peak. The best map is BLM Garrison Utah-Nevada.
I like the thought of having another approach. I
checked on the topozone and found the end of the road mentioned above to be at:
38.7507 -114.7528 (nad 27)
The road heading south into Robber Roost Basin at
with a road junction in a bit at
Any idea on how far (mileage) from the end of the road and can you drive a 2WD vehicle up that far or is it a high clearance 4WD situation? How long did it take to hike it?
This road is too rough for a passenger car, but you don't need 4WD. A standard sized pickup truck with stock suspension and clearance (NOT a lowrider) should get you to the end of the road with ease.
I had a leisurely lunch at the summit, and the hike took 5 hours roundtrip from the end of the road.
The North Creek access is now (post-2006) closed about 3.3 miles west from us-93, at ~6850'. As of June 2010, the road was deeply eroded in the center by a stream, but I was still able to drive my 2003 Outback (7.3" clearance), by positioning the wheels on each side of the stream.
Another road, starting slightly south, joins the North Creek road at the wilderness boundary; I didn't investigate it, but perhaps that would be an alternative.
North Creek Road is now graded and easily accessible by any vehicle. Low clearance/2wd okay. FYI: due to the wilderness boundary, hikers now walk about 2 miles on road to get to the second creek crossing described in the North Creek route description.
10-21-17 The North Creek road is in really good condition. (As a side note, someone had affixed a sock to the road marker at the road entrance, and there was a nifty sign about 50 feet in which labeled the road.) I'll post a picture of it. Any passenger car could drive it the 3.1 miles to the WSA gate closure. We probably averaged about 20 mph from Highway 93 all the way to the gate. After the 2nd stream crossing (on foot) a distinct trail lulls you into a false sense of security because it peters out after maybe 5 minutes of walking and then, more or less, you are on your own - route finding coupled with bushwhacking all interlaced with aggravating stretches of mind-blowing talus. Just saying...