View north from the summit
Silver Hill is located to the West of Heenan Lake in the Monitor Pass area. It is not a well-known summit, despite having over 930’ of prominence. The mountain rises to the west of Heenan Lake, just south of the Monitor Pass area.
There are two primary routes. The easier route is from Heenan Lake. The route from there requires some easy bushwhacking between the lake and the ridgetop. A faint old jeep road leads the rest of the way to the summit. A more challenging option is to hike Silver Hill Road from off Highway 4. The road goes all the way to the summit, but the elevation gain is almost double the Heenan Lake route.
The peak is on federal lands and there is easy access the Monitor Pass area. Once on top, there are tremendous views to the north, south, and west. Some views are blocked by the higher summits in the Monitor Pass area to the east.
Silver Hill is best hiked between April-June and September-early November. It is recommended to leave this area alone in the heart of summer. It has a mild desert climate and it can get pretty hot.
View to Heenan Lake from the ridge
From the Reno/Carson City area there are two options which are similar in terms of drive time. Albeit, the second option is probably about 5-10 minutes faster overall. In fact, it is fun to take one of these on the way there, and the other on the way back.
Note that there are two entrances to Heenan Lake. The trailhead is accessed via the western entrance. This is the road closer to Markleeville than to Monitor Pass. The entrance road is well graded dirt. It is a third of a mile to the parking area.
From Reno, the first option is to take 395 South to Topaz Lake. Once you pass through the California entrance station, drive another three miles south to the junction with Highway 89 which winds up to Monitor Pass. From Monitor Pass drive 4 miles to the entrance road. It is about 40 miles from the US 395/Highway 88 turnoff in Minden to the entrance road.
The second, and definitely shorter, option is to take Highway 88 from Minden and go south to Woodfords, where you can take Highway 89 to Markleeville, California. About 4 miles past Markleeville is the junction of Highway 89 and Highway 4. Take Highway 89 up towards Monitor Pass. The entrance road to Heenan Lake is about 3 1/2 miles up on the right. It is about 30 miles from the Highway 88 turnoff in Minden.
If hiking up Silver Hill Road, you will take Highway 88 to Highway 89. At the Highway 89/Highway 4 junction, do not take Highway 89 towards Monitor Pass. Instead, continue on Highway 4 for about a mile. The is parking on the right at a parking area next to the Carson River. Silver Hill Road had been closed to vehicles since 2015.
From the trailhead, walk past a gate and hike about a mile along the west side of Heenan Lake. The road goes up and down along the way. From here, pick a route up to the ridge. Make sure to stay to the left of the trees. Eventually, you will run into a faint dirt jeep road. This road is overgrown and hard to follow at points. However, it leads directly to the summit.
Walking down to Heenan Lake
Depending on exactly what route you take, the summit is generally about 2 ¾ miles from the trailhead +/- 200 yards. The elevation gain is 1,250’ to 1,300’ to the summit, depending on the route. There is some additional gain on the way back as you ascend the road on the west side of Heenan Lake.
If hiking up Silver Hill Road, it winds up for approximately 4 ½ miles to the summit, gaining about 2,400’. There is a Y-junction after about 3 miles, but either fork can be taken to the summit.
Silver Hill is located within the Toiyabe National Forest. There is no red tape in particular. However, if hiking from Heenan Lake, the road is generally closed during winter.
External LinksCalifornia Wildlife Heenan Lake page