Zoom shot of Mount Houghton
Mount Houghton is the 2nd highest peak in the Mount Rose Wilderness, located near the cities of Reno and Carson City. It is situated on the north edge of the Relay Ridge 1.36 miles west of Mount Rose 10,776'. It rises 750 feet above the saddle it shares with Mount Rose, clearly distinguishing itself as a separate peak.
The trailhead is a 30 minute drive from downtown Reno, making it a very accessible mountain summit. Mount Houghton is overshadowed by Mount Rose, which is why it doesn't see nearly as many hikers on its slopes.
Despite this overshadowing, Mount Houghton is still a worthy destination. It can be hiked in four to five hours round trip via two primary routes. The longer route is all on trail (ideal for trail runners), the shorter route involves some class 3 climbing. From the summit you will find exquisite views, particularly to the northwest and to the south. Views towards Reno are blocked by Mount Rose.
Getting to the trailhead for Mount Houghton is easy. From Reno take 395 to the Mount Rose Highway (431). Take 431 until you reach the Mount Rose Summit Parking Area (8,911'). From here, there are two main routes to the summit, both which will take four to five hours to hike up and down.
The main class 1 hiking route is described on this page, and there is a separate route page for the secondary route, which involves a class 3 scree slope.
Mount Rose Summit parking area to the Relay Peak Service Road
Round Trip Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Difficulty: Walk up
This is a day hike up from the Mount Rose Summit parking area. The trail to Mount Houghton is the same as the trail to Relay Peak
. The trail to Relay Peak is marked at the entry to the trail. From the trailhead, take the trail southwest for about 3/4 mile until it reaches the service road. Take a right and follow the service road for just over two miles where there is a sign for the trail to Mount Rose. At this point, there is also a sign saying it is two miles to Relay Peak. Now head west towards Relay Peak. It is 1 1/2 miles to reach the top of the Relay Ridge.
Mount Houghton from the Relay Peak Service Road
Once on top of the Relay Ridge, there are electrical towers to the north and the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) to the south. Instead of taking the TRT south to Relay Peak, follow the road as it passes under the electrical towers. There is a slight use trail to follow on the way to Mount Houghton. The use trail fades in and out, but generally follows the top of the ridge. There are several divots that appear to be trails. However, these are not trails, and generally head downwards. Continue up the ridge, following the trail where it is visible. From the electrical towers, it is less than a mile to the summit and roughly 400 feet up. The total elevation gain for the entire hike is roughly 1700 feet or so due to some slight ups and downs each way along the trail and the ridge.
The route to the summit from the Relay Peak Ridge - Click to enlarge
No red tape, but watch for fire danger signs during high fire season.