HIKING THE RUBY MOUNTAINS PART 2 Ruby Mountains Express--Logo by Jocelyne Rohrback: www.jrnewmedia.com                       
Mountain Creek in Lamoille Canyon
Above Photo Courtesy of Susan Zerga Photography, Lamoille, NV




Contents of this page:
Angel Lake Group || Boulder/Steele Lakes || Robinson/Soldier/Hidden Lakes Group || Verdi Lake || Overland Lake
Lake Marian || Echo Lake || Seitz and Griswold Lakes || Cold Lakes || Birdeye Lake || Area Map || Outfitters
Airline Accommodations, Motels, and Basque Restaurants || Recommended Publications || Site Search Engine

View Photo Preview Page (1) || View Photo Preview Page (2) || Part 1 Trail to Liberty Pass and Beyond
Part 2 Supplement Other Wilderness Areas, Photos and Information || Part 3 Outfitters, Pack Trips and Backpacking Guide Service
Part 3 Supplement Outfitters, Pack Trips, Thomas Canyon, Right Fork Canyon and Ruby Valley
Part 4 Hiking the Ruby Crest Trail with Lynda Mellows and Rosanne Baker || Photo Page Hole in the Mountain--East Humboldts


Angel Lake is located at the extreme north end of the East Humboldt section of the range, and is the only lake in the entire range you can drive to. Because of the drive, Angel Lake is a popular picknicking area. Drive to Wells, 50 miles east of Elko, and then take the 12 mile drive up to Angel Lake. As unlikely as it may seem, due to easy and frequent access, fishing at Angel Lake can be good. The lake has Brook, Rainbow and Tiger trout.

Click on the image icons to expand the images for better viewing and then click the "Back" button to return to the page.

Angel Lake Angel Lake Angel Lake from Greys Lake Trail Angel Lake from Greys Lake Trail


Other lakes accessible from the Angel Lake area are Winchell, Greys and Smith, and these lakes do not seem to get much attention.

 Greys Lake Greys Lake  Greys Lake

Greys Lake is about a ten mile round trip from the trailhead at Angel Lake. Greys Lake is shallow at only about six feet in depth and contains Cutthroat trout. Winchell is about a six mile round trip from its trailhead which begins about two miles back down the road from Angel Lake. Winchell may or may not contain fish.

Greys Lake can also be reached by a shorter and easier route from the Starr Valley side. Link to Part 3 Supplement for additional Greys Lake information.

Smith Lake can be reached by an off-trail climb that is short but challenging. Start out on the Greys Lake trail from Angel Lake and at less than one mile you will come to an East Humboldt Wilderness sign.

 Greys Lake Trailhead Greys Lake Trailhead East Humboldt Wilderness Sign East Humboldt Wilderness Sign

The trail then bends to the left and will start to go downhill. There is a saddle below the ridgeline in front of you as the trail turns left and this is your destination. Smith Lake lies just beyond the saddle. Immediately leave the trail to the left rather than follow the trail down.

 Saddle to Smith Lake Smith Lake is just Beyond the Saddle

After leaving the trail, try to stay as high as you can for as long as you can until the terrain seems suitable enough to start working your way down and then upwards towards the saddle. Any route you choose will take you over or around high boulders, through high, dense brush and snags, and up through loose footing for a half mile or so. It is not the least bit easy.

However, it is not necessary to take this mostly off-trail and difficult route to Smith. For the easy way to the lake taking less than an hour which, along with Winchell and Island lakes, now qualifies as one of the easiest lakes to get to, link to Hiking the Ruby Mountains Part 5. Smith Lake has to be high on the list of the most scenic lakes in the entire mountain range.

A 2003 fishing report confirms that the lake does contain Cutthroat trout that are up to 15 inches in length. Golden trout were supposed to have been planted but their status is unknown.

 Smith Lake Smith Lake Smith Lake
Smith Lake Photos

None of the lake trips should be considered real easy but some are easier than others. Along with Island Lake, the hike to Winchell Lake is one of those that is easier than others and is a delightful hike. As you are driving towards Angel Lake, locate the trailhead sign on the left side of the road near a 90 degree turn to the right about two miles from Angel Lake. Parking is on the opposite side of the road from the sign. The sign indicates four miles to the lake but it is closer to three.

The hike to Winchell is different since instead of hiking up a canyon you are traversing the side of the mountain. It's like a walking roller coaster ride as you traverse one vertical ridge after another and the shallow canyons in between. The overall elevation gain is less than 1000 feet but you will repeat some of the gained and lost altitude over the successive uphill and downhill portions of the trail. This means that overall you may climb 1600 feet but lose 700 feet during the process for a net gain of 900 feet.

 Beaver Ponds Beaver PondsHappy Camper Happy Camper

 Storm Clouds Storm Clouds Disgruntled Camper Wet and Disgruntled Camper

What started as a cool, overcast and comfortable hiking day ended with thunder, lightning, rain and hail, and dipping temperatures.

Constantly traversing the canyons and ridges may get a little disconcerting after a while as you start to wonder where the lake is. There is a tendency to think that the lake just has to be in a basin up one of the canyons that you have been passing for the last hour or so. Eventually you will see a low horizontal saddle below the ridgeline and the lake is just beyond the saddle. The trail makes a short climb and you are there.

Chimney Rock Chimney Rock

The trail passes some distance below Chimney Rock on the way to Winchell Lake.

The trailhead sign to Winchell shows a fish (meaning fish in the lake) but the Lakes of the Ruby Mountains Ranger District chart indicates that there aren't any. This is a rather small lake, not very deep, and the winter freeze could very well prohibit any fish life.

Winchell Lake Winchell Lake

Link to: Additional Winchell Lake trail and lake photos.
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(An Unfortunate Dilemma)

Due to fish quality, I consider Boulder and Steele lakes to be the best fishing lakes in the entire range, but you need to be there very early in the morning or in the evening. The first fish you catch from either lake will amply reward your hike. The Brook trout in both lakes are well fed, much fatter than usual, and heavy for their eleven or twelve inch length. It's like catching Clydesdales after catching Quarter Horses in other lakes. However, it is no longer easy to get to Boulder (but it is now a little easier to get to Steele).

Boulder and Steele lakes are in the East Humboldt Range. The west side of the range is Starr Valley and the east side is Clover Valley. There is a small valley area called Secret Valley on the east side of Secret Pass, and Secret, Ruby and Clover valleys converge at this point.

Boulder Lake located on the Starr Valley side of the range is at the end of Third Boulder Creek Canyon. Before the crossing of private property became a problem in certain areas, you could drive right up to the trailhead at the entrance to Third Boulder Creek Canyon and begin the pleasant and gradual seven mile hike to the lake. Things have now changed. When you locate and attempt to drive up the road to Third Boulder Creek Canyon, you will be met by a locked gate with a "No Trespassing" sign.


 Boulder Lake and Pond Boulder Lake and Pond

The last time that the Forest Service and other agencies attempted to obtain an easement agreement into Third Boulder was in 1996. There didn't seem to be any overwhelming reason why the easement could not be obtained other, perhaps, than someone might leave a gate open.

However, there are still at least five ways to get to Boulder Lake but none are easy. From Starr Valley you can still reach the lake from Third Boulder Canyon by starting from the Starr Valley road near the base of Fourth Boulder Canyon. There is a ranch adjacent to the road where you should ask permission to park your car and start the hike. The beginning of the trail is a two wheel-track road just a few yards north of the ranch which will take you to the ridge separating Fourth and Third Boulder Creek canyons.

This route is a nine mile one way trip, mostly by an uncharted trail maintained only by horse traffic a few times each summer. After accessing the ridge, look towards the skyline on the left where Hole in the Mountain will be visible in the distance. After proceeding along the ridge for a ways, drop down a steep hill into Third Boulder Canyon to the right. A road will continue for a short distance, but the former easy hiking trail up Third Boulder Creek no longer exists and the horse trail, such as it is, proceeds for the most part along the left side of the canyon. This is an arduous trip, even by horse. The canyon eventually makes a sweeping turn to the left and at that point the ridge, still quite some distance away, can be seen that separates Boulder and Steele lakes.

A second way is from the Secret-Starr trailhead. This is a shorter straight line distance but not necessarily an easier route since you have to cross First and Second Boulder canyons by an equally unmaintained trail and then drop down into Third Boulder. Michael White describes this route in his book "Hiking and Backpacking Guide". To locate the Secret-Starr trailhead, drive to Secret Pass from I-80 out of Elko. Descending into Secret Valley from Secret Pass, almost to Ruby and Clover valleys, look for the Secret-Starr trailhead sign on the left side of the Secret Pass road. The sign is about 100 feet off the road and a dirt road leads up to the trailhead sign. If you come to the junction of the North Ruby Valley road, you have gone a little too far.

Secret-Starr Trailhead Sign Secret-Starr Trailhead Sign

Another way is up Pole Canyon from Clover Valley which is not too distant from the Secret-Starr trailhead route, but, unlike the Secret-Starr trail, this is not a public access route. The entrance to Pole Canyon is from the North Ruby Valley road, through a locked gate, and then continuing up the road leading into Pole Canyon. This road crosses private property and it is not known if permission could be obtained to gain access. This is the route used by Secret Pass Outfitters into the Boulders area and inquiry could be made with them at 775-779-2201 to find out if it would be possible to gain access through the gate.

The road extends into the canyon area about three miles and the hiking distance into Boulder Lake is then about six miles. Again you would cross First and Second Boulder canyons and drop down into Third Boulder. The route is maintained by horse traffic and is a better way than going in by the Secret-Starr trail.

Week's Creek Canyon from Clover Valley has been described as another way into Boulder. Hiking up Week's Canyon does not appear to be that difficult but it would end with a steep climb to a ridge and then a descent to the lake. Week's Creek Canyon is one canyon removed to the north of the Steele Lake basin. Steele Lake is located directly above Humboldt Outfitters on the Clover Valley road. See Part 5 of this site Birdeye Lake, Lake Peak, Smith Lake, Clover Valley and Cave Creek for information on locating Week's Creek Canyon and the road leading into the area.

Finally, you could climb to Steele Lake from Humboldt Outfitters in Clover Valley and then climb over the ridge behind Steele Lake and descend to Boulder. The climb to the ridge above Steele Lake is loose and steep and very demanding. The climb to this same ridge from the Boulder Lake side is more gradual and not as difficult. After reaching Steele Lake and taking a look at the ridge ahead, you may be satisfied not to go any farther.

It's difficult to suggest a recommended route. The choices are either long and bushwhacking or steep and bushwhacking. Everything considered however, the best way is to go in by horse. Link to OUTFITTERS section for information and consider Secret Pass or possibly Nevada High Country Outfitters for a day or overnight trip to the lake. To fish the lake, it must be an overnight trip. Humboldt Outfitters goes in from the Starr Valley side while Secret Pass Outfitters and Nevada High Country Outfitters will go in by way of Pole Canyon.

 Boulder Lake Boulder Lake and Boulders Boulder Lake Boulder Lake from the Far Side

On one trip to Boulder, when you could hike directly up Third Boulder Canyon, we left Elko at 4:00 p.m. and had exactly five hours of daylight left to drive to the trailhead by way of Deeth and make the seven mile hike to the lake. We would have to make good time up the trail so to cut down on weight we each took a light blanket rather than a sleeping bag. We made it to the lake in time but the small amount of firewood that we found during the waning minutes of daylight was consumed in an hour.

A breeze started coming in from across the lake and by midnight the temperature dropped to near freezing. A Levy jacket and a light blanket weren't nearly up to the task. We were awake all night shivering violently and huddled in front of the large rock in the above photo on the left. Excellent fishing come daybreak made up for the very uncomfortable night.


The good news is that it is now easier to reach Steele Lake which will lessen the desire or necessity to go to Boulder. Steele has always been a somewhat better fishing lake than Boulder anyway. Previously, to reach Steele, you either had to climb over the ridge and back from Boulder (difficult and not something to look forward to), or do a bushwhacking climb through the sagebrush up a steep ridge from Clover Valley.

 Steele Lake
Arrowhead Shaped Steele Lake from Ridge Separating Boulder and Steels lakes

Starting from Humboldt Outfitters in Clover Valley, a trail has now been constructed that leads about half way up to Steele Lake. To use the trail, drive to the Humboldt Outfitters ranch and ask for directions. They take horses up this trail, but with a trail half way up the mountain, the overall hike/climb to the lake would be much less strenuous than it was previously.

To drive to Clover Valley from Elko, consult a Nevada highway map of the area (or the Forest Service map) and first drive to Wells on I-80 and then take route 93 south to route 232 which proceeds along Clover Valley at the base of the mountains.

Mountain Goats Mountain Goats Above Boulder Lake

We had climbed to the ridge between Boulder and Steele lakes, and, not knowing who surprised whom the most, a mountain goat came around a rock less than six feet away. I had a film camera in hand trying to reload a roll of film and could not get a shot. The goat took two or three hops and disappeared down the steep slope towards Steele Lake.

Retrieving a digital camera, two more goats came by 20 feet away and posed for photographs. An hour earlier 25-30 Bighorn Sheep passed by this same spot but we were down low at the time, and trying to photograph the sheep at this distance was unsuccessful. This was a spectacular sight as the sheep ran for a half mile around the entire upper basin surrounding Boulder Lake. They were being chased by a Forest Service helicopter engaged in wildlife counting.

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Robinson, Soldier and Hidden lakes are located in Soldier Basin in the Ruby Mountains section of the range. The west side of the Ruby Mountains section is Lamoille Valley and the east side is Ruby Valley. These lakes are a well known group of lakes and the most popular access is from Lamoille Valley, but you can also come up the other direction from Ruby Valley via the Krenka Creek trailhead.

The trailhead at Lamoille Valley is reached from either the community of Lamoille or the Halleck area. See Part 2 Supplement Directions to Soldier Canyon Trailhead from Lamoille for route information through Lamoille. If this is a first time to Soldier Canyon and you want to get a pre-dawn start, consider locating the trailhead on a day prior to the hike.

The trailhead is reached by driving two miles up Soldier Canyon on a one lane dirt road. Soldier Canyon is completely different than Lamoille Canyon and so are the trails completely different. This would be a fairly easy 10 mile round trip if it were not for a certain mile or so of steep and rugged trail through the canyon. I told my hiking partner that the first part of the trail was a little steep, rough and rocky, and the later evaluation was that the description was a gross understatement and that the hike deserved the title "worst hike ever".

Soldier Creek Soldier Creek Within the Canyon

 Soldier Creek Soldier Creek in Soldier Basin Soldier Peak Soldier Peak in Background

The first lake you would come to by following the trail is the Soldier Lake group but your primary destination should be Hidden Lakes due to their scenic value and fishing challenge. Robinson Lake and the Soldier Lake group are mostly out in the open in flat areas and lack the scenic quality of most lakes.

The first part of the hike from the Soldier Basin trailhead is through the narrow and rather steep Soldier Canyon. Link to: Directions to Soldier Canyon Trailhead from Lamoille for additional trail description and photos. The trail then breaks out of the canyon into an open area and continues into Soldier Basin where the hiking is easy. The trail will pass a Ruby Valley trail sign on the left. This is the trail leading up from the Krenka Creek trailhead in Ruby Valley.

A short distance later, the trail will cross Soldier Creek from left to right and the trail will make a steep but short climb to the top of a small hill. About 100 yards later, start looking for a narrow and less distinct trail leading off to the right. Follow this trail to the granite cliffs where Hidden Lakes are hidden. These are two lakes separated by a narrow strip of land. The lakes contain some large Cutthroat trout up to 18" in length that are usually difficult to catch.

Lower Hidden Lake Lower Hidden Lake

Both Hidden lakes are at the same elevation but I am referring to the "lower" lake as the one farthest away from the mountain. This lake is the larger of the two, located to the right when facing the lakes, and is the primary fishing lake of the two. The larger Soldier lake can be seen in the background in the above photo.

From Hidden Lakes, the trail will continue down to Robinson Lake. Robinson Lake does not lie in a basin but is more or less on a flat area just over the divide between Lamoille Valley and Ruby Valley. This flat location would tend to explain why the lake is so shallow (six feet or so). Warm springs must seep into the shallow lake to keep it from freezing solid in the winter. Lacking nearby cliffs and trees, Robinson is hardly a scenic lake.

Robinson Lake Robinson Lake

Wade out to the rock several feet from the shore to try some fishing. Fishing for Brook trout at Robinson Lake is generally reported to be good but I cannot verify that. Either I am not there at prime time, it's too cold, it's too windy, they're just not biting, the lake is fished out, the lake is too shallow, or some other valid excuse.

The main trail coming back down from Robinson will pass by or close to the Soldier Lake group. One or two of the group deserve to be called lakes but others are only ponds. There may be Brook trout in the one or two larger lakes but access to the water is difficult due to patches of willows around the shorelines.

Soldier Lake and Ponds Soldier Lake and Ponds

One of the two larger Soldier lakes can be seen in the trees to the left of the ponds in the above photo. Like Robinson, the Soldier Lake group is also not very scenic. Soldier Peak is in the background.

Link to Robinson Lake Photo, for an early morning photo of the lake by Larry Hyslop of Elko

Link to: additional Soldier Basin and lake photos.
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Verdi Lake is a little known lake in Talbot Canyon that parallels Lamoille Canyon to the north of Lamoille Canyon. I was not particularly successful during the one time I tried to fish the lake but it is reported that fishing for fairly large Cutthroat can be good. The big challenge here is just getting to the lake.

There are two ways to access the lake: hike up Talbot Canyon, about an eight mile one way trip beginning near the community of Lamoille, or by scaling the ridge from Lamoille Canyon. Looking for a way up to the ridge from Lamoille Canyon, a gullywasher that had washed out the road had left a nice gully down the side of the canyon that seemed to be in the right location and not too difficult to traverse. The gully, now more prevalent than ever, is on the left side of the road while traveling up the Canyon and about a mile or so past the Thomas Canyon campgrounds. Following the gully to the ridge resulted in a perfect view of the lake on the far side.

The successful climb up the gully and the descent to the lake was through steep and rocky terrain with the usual loose footing. Since then the gully must have gone through more gullywashers since there is much more rock exposure that includes small, medium and hugh loose bolders and large expanses of sheer rock to climb up.

Verdi Lake Verdi Lake
Above photo courtesy of William E. Johnson

William Johnson, who owns property at the base of Talbot Canyon, is the authority on Verdi Lake.
Send an email to Mr. Johnson for Verdi Lake information.

During a recent attempt, I failed to make it all the way up to the ridge. The climbing was getting difficult, partly due to the sheer rock faces, and was taking more time than expected. Coming back down was done backwards on all fours and it took real effort to keep from sliding down the sheer rocks and crashing into boulders.

 Climb to Verdi Ridge Climb to Verdi Ridge  Climb to Verdi Ridge
Photos Taken from Climb Towards Verdi Ridge

The photo on the left was taken from the Lamoille Canyon road. The sheer rock face near the bottom is the start of the climb.

However, most climbers start the climb to the ridge from The Terraces, a picnic area a little farther up the canyon, and climb to the vicinity of Verdi Peak overlooking the lake. There is supposed to be somewhat of a trail via this route but we were unsuccessful on two occasions trying to find the trail. We came to a cave but couldn't proceed much farther than that.

 Cave Above Terraces Cave Above Terraces  Cliffs Above Terraces Cliffs Above Terraces

Link to: Part 3 Supplement for information on accessing Verdi Lake from Talbot Canyon.


Scaling the ridge by the "gorge" route described earlier, there is a brass plate embedded in a rock on top of the ridge that appears to be a memorial to someone. I don't recall the inscription, which is rather brief, but it is entirely possible that someone could take a fatal fall down the side of Lamoille or Talbot canyon. Another Web author who has seen the brass plate put it this way: "...like someone was playing on the ridge and fell off."

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Overland Lake is a popular lake off by itself in the southern section of the Ruby Mountains range, and can be reached from each of the four major points on the compass. The lake is a major destination point when traversing the Ruby Crest Trail and upon so doing, the lake can be approached from either the north or the south. The lake can be reached from the west side of the Ruby range through Gennette Creek Canyon but this would normally be a horse trip with Elko Guide Service (Bill Gibson) since this route goes through private property. Finally, it is most commonly reached by a trail from the steeper east side of Ruby Valley which is a general access route. Secret Pass Outfitters uses this route to the lake.

From Elko, turn right onto SR228 at Spring Creek and drive over Harrison Pass to Ruby Valley. The distance from the SR228 junction to the start of Harrison Pass is 33 miles. Descending into Ruby Valley 11 miles later, turn north, or left, onto the Ruby Valley road. For years this road was rough, dusty, washboaded dirt and gravel but now has been improved to oiled gravel or asphalt.

Nine miles later, look for the Rock House about 40 yards off to the left side of the road. The Rock House had been a bar and later a Post Office but is currently vacant. It is now fenced in with a blank white sign in front.

Rock House Rock House

Continue about three-quarters of a mile farther and upon approaching a cattle guard, look for the Overland Lake trailhead sign on the fence about 25 yards to the left of the cattle guard. The trailhead sign indicates eight miles to Overland Lake. Turn left on the access road which continues for about a mile, and drive up the road as far as you can to shorten the hiking distance.

Overland Lake Trailhead Sign Overland Lake Trailhead Sign

Fishing for Brook trout is usually good but they are usually small.

Overland Lake Overland Lake


There are references to Overland Lake having been called Lake Marian (or Lake Marion), but these names are not generally recognized. However, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names USGS Geographic Names Office does list Lake Marian and Lake Marion as variant names and Overland Lake as the official name.

For some interesting history as to how this came about, visit web site Gilbert Munger's Paintings of Lake Marian which relates to Clarence King, a geologist who later became the head of the U.S. Geological Survey, and had visited Overland Lake during 1868 and named the lake after his sister Marian as a Christmas present.

It is not known when Overland Lake became the official name of the lake and King may have named a previously named lake. But on the other hand, probably not. Nearby Elko did not start coming into being until 1869, a year after King had coined the Lake Marian name, and it seems very unlikely that any of the Ruby Mountain lakes would have acquired their current, official names before Elko became Elko. So it appears that the Lake Marian name just faded into obscurity and King lost out on his original naming efforts.

Artist Gilbert Munger joined King's survey party during 1869, the year after King had named the lake, and had traveled with King to California. While there he painted Donner Lake in the Sierra Nevada range. It is thought that Munger may have accompanied King on a return trip to Lake Marian/Overland Lake during 1869 or after, and if so, would have been in a position to paint the lake while there. On the other hand, there may be some speculation that Munger may have painted the Lake Marian pictures from the black and white photograph that was taken by expedition photographer Timothy O'Sullivan (see the Gilbert Munger web site for this photo and Munger's paintings).

To add some additional confusion, the inscription "Donna Lake" along with the year 1872 appears on the back of one of Munger's Lake Marian paintings. To try to answer the question, "Why Donna Lake?", the best guess seems to be that Munger applied this inscription a few years later and had confused the lake name with that of Donner Lake in the Sierras (that he had painted), perhaps thinking that Lake Marian was Donner Lake. However, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Lake Marian/Donna Lake paintings in the Gilbert Munger web site are in fact Overland Lake.

To summarize, although it appears that the Overland Lake name came along later, the official and recognized name is Overland, but the Lake Marian and Lake Marion names are listed as variant names. "Donna Lake" has to refer to Donner Lake in the Sierras.

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Echo Lake is a remote lake that sees few visitors, and, as a result, fishing Echo for Brook trout and a few Makinaw Lake trout is about as good as you will find.

Echo Lake Echo Lake  Bighorn Sheep Bighorn Sheep near Echo Lake

The usual way to Echo Lake used to be up Echo Canyon from the vicinity of Lee. Echo Canyon is not easily recognizable from the road into Lee since the entrance to the canyon is off to the left and partially hidden by a foothill. The hike is about six miles up the left side of the canyon and is a recommended overnight trip in order to take in early morning and evening fishing.

Echo Canyon Echo Canyon

The above photo was taken from the road leading to the locked gate (see below for explanation) which is some distance back down the road from Lee. You can still go by way of Echo Canyon by making arrangements with the Te-Moak Indian Reservation, and this may still be the best way, definitely the easiest way. This route, however, requires admittance through a locked gate and an entry fee of $25 per person for hiking and fishing (charge for hunting is considerably more). If there are quite a few in the party, the $25 fee might be downward negotiable.

 Te-Moak Reservation Sign Te-Moak Reservation Sign

Make a telephone call to the Reservation Travel Office at Lee (775-744-4273) to make the preliminary arrangements. Lorayn London is an administrator at the office. The office is open weekdays, 8:00a to 4:00p. Make the arrangements a day or two in advance since you need to arrange for someone to meet you at the travel office and then make the drive to the locked gate. You can then drive an additional four or five miles to the forest service boundary where you start hiking. A four wheel drive vehicle is preferable on any of these two tire track roads leading into the mountains, but usually a high clearance two wheel drive vehicle will do the job. Standard passenger cars should not be attempted.

To locate the Travel Office, drive from Elko on the Lamoille Highway to Spring Creek just over the Lamoille Summit and turn right at the stop light onto Route 228 (which would eventually take you to Harrison Pass). Thirteen miles later, a sign will identify the cutoff to Lee on the left. Drive an additional seven miles (one-half mile passed the end of the paved road) to the Travel Office on the right which is a reddish-brown colored building.

 Reservation Travel Office Reservation Travel Office  Right Fork Lamoille Canyon Right Fork Lamoille Canyon

You may have read a news item that on 7/7/04 President Bush signed the Western Shoshone Distribution Bill that relinquishes the Shoshone claims to certain Western Shoshone lands that were initially obtained by the Shoshone Tribe through the Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863. However, it is not expected that the fee entrances to Echo and Rattlesnake canyons will be effected since these entrances are through reservation land rather than the Ruby Valley Treaty land.

Echo Lake can be reached from Right Fork Canyon off Lamoille Canyon but this is a very difficult route. The hike up Right Fork is usually a hike in itself, let alone making the extra demanding scramble to Echo. Drive up Lamoille Canyon about three miles to the turnoff on the right to the Boy Scout Camp, more recently named Camp Lamoille. The turnoff will cross Lamoille Creek and lead into an open area with some A-frame buildings. Do not drive into the camp but park in an out of the way spot before crossing a cattle guard near the entrance to the camp. Walk through the camp on the road skirting the left side of the athletic field to find the beginning of the trail.

The existing trail will go back some four miles to some ponds and a small lake. Facing the end of the canyon at the lake, start scrambling through the rocks to the high ridge to the right of the lake. For some additional off-trail information on climbing to the ridge overlooking the lake, go to Web site Backpacking the Ruby Mountains and then select the link to the trail information page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Echo Lake information.

Link to Part 3 Supplement at this site for information and photographs of Right Fork Canyon and the lake at the end of the canyon. Part 3 Supplement also furnishes information on making a horse trip to Echo Lake with outfitter Bill Gibson, Elko Guide Service.

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(Another Dilemma)

Seitz and Griswold lakes are not the most popular hikes in the range but they do add some diversity. No two canyons are alike so wherever you go you are always encountering something new. The hikes to Seitz and Griswold are about six to seven miles round trip but the trails are no longer maintained by the Forest Service. The reason given for this is that the area is unavailable for general public access (but only to a limited extent as explained in a later paragraph).

The lakes are accessed from the Pleasant Valley area that is located at the base of the mountains and south of the road leading into Lamoille Canyon. Seitz Lake is located in Seitz Canyon and Griswold Lake is located one or two canyons away in Hennen Canyon. Previously you could easily access these canyons from a road skirting the base of the mountains that branched off the road leading into Lamoille Canyon. The Ruby Dome ranch now occupies this area and it appears that this road no longer continues along the base of the mountains.

In addition, due to the Spring Creek development in Pleasant Valley, general public access as defined by the Forest Service is limited, but only if you don't know how to proceed. Entrance to Seitz and Hennen canyons is controlled by the Spring Creek Association and it only takes $10 and a $25 returnable deposit to rent a key for access through a locked gate.

The Spring Creek Association office is located at 451 Spring Creek Parkway, tel. 775-753-6295, with daily office hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Stop in personally a day or so in advance for a key in order to get an early start on the day of the hike. To find Spring Creek Parkway, drive from Elko through the community of Spring Creek on the Lamoille Highway, pass the high school on the left, and continue on the Lamoille Highway to Spring Creek Parkway. This is a fairly busy intersection for the area but does not have a traffic light (as of July 2003). Turn left and proceed for 2.5 miles to the office on the left side of the road.

Obtaining a key is only a minor inconvenience and should not be an excuse for not going to the area.

To reach the locked gate, continue driving on the Lamoille Highway towards Lamoille and watch for the turnoff to Pleasant Valley road on the right (about two miles before the turnoff to Lamoille Canyon). Follow this road three miles to the green locked gate on the left. Unlock the padlock to let yourself through and of course lock the gate after entering.

Locked Gate Locked Gate to Hennen and Seitz Canyons

Drive a short distance down the dirt road to a fork in the road. The road straight ahead at the fork leads into a rifle range and a 4-WD road to the left of the rifle range will take you up and over the ridge into Seitz Canyon. If you don't want to descend into the canyon, park at the top of the ridge and walk down into the canyon for the start of the hike to Seitz Lake (or start hiking from the rifle range).

The road to the right at the fork will continue for about a mile to the Griswold Lake and Ruby Dome trailhead sign at the base of Hennen Canyon. This is the primary access route for those climbing the Ruby Dome, the highest peak in the Ruby range, via Griswold Lake, and for that reason alone the Forest Service would be justified in maintaining the trail to Griswold Lake.

Griswold Lake Trailhead Griswold Lake Trailhead

 Trail Through Aspens Cliffs
Trail Segment Through Aspens and Cliffs Near Griswold Lake

 Butterfield Creek Aspen Thicket
Butterfield Creek Draining Griswold Lake and View of Aspen Growth from Hillside

For a good overhead photo of Griswold Lake, link to Griswold Lake Photo.

Link to: photos and trail descriptions to Griswold and Seitz Lakes.


During September 2000 Brian Harasha of Spring Creek, age 14, and family members made the hike to Seitz Lake, and he reported that the trail was good for a ways but after that you were pretty much on your own as you fight your way through aspen thickets, swampy areas and up and around cliffs. They drove from the rifle range to the ridge above Seitz Canyon and started hiking from there. Due to the trail conditions, the hike took up to six hours, at least twice the time it should take.

He reported that the lake was hardly more than a big shallow pond without any fish and was a big disappointment. Accordingly, he does not recommend the hike (especially if you have fishing in mind).

 Seitz Lake Seitz Lake
Rare Photos of the Rarely Seen Seitz Lake

Final Approach to Seitz Lake  Approach to Seitz Lake (note small waterfall in center of photo)
Above Seitz Lake and Scenery Photos Courtesy of Brian Harasha

Link to: Additional Seitz Lake and trail photos.
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Cold Lakes qualify as two of the most scenic lakes in the mountain range.

These two lakes are on the Lamoille Valley side of the Ruby Mountains range and are located just over the ridge behind Robinson Lake. There is no trail leading over the ridge so you may have to brush up on your mountain goat climbing. Hiking into the Robinson Lake area from either Lamoille Valley or Ruby Valley, climbing over the ridge to Cold Lakes and back, and then out again is probably not something that you would want to try in one day.

Hike to Hidden Lakes for overnight camping (rather than to Robinson), and the next day follow the hillside around to the vicinity of Robinson Lake (off to your left), and pick your way up towards the right side of the ridge behind Robinson. Upon scaling the ridge, Cold Lakes will be in view off to the left. Sidehill down towards the lakes to keep from losing altitude.

Lake access from Lamoille Valley is through private property, and the preferred way to go is by making packtrip arrangements with Nevada High Country Outfitters or Hidden Lake Outfitters. The horse trip can be easily made in one day.

Fishing for Brook trout is excellent in both lakes. Golden trout had been planted in Cold Lakes but they failed to survive. This is a prime area to observe bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

Ridge Behind Robinson Lake Ridge Behind Robinson Lake Ridge From Cold Lakes Ridge From Cold Lakes

For additional photos and Cold Lakes information, link to Part 3, Outfitters and Pack Trips

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Birdeye Lake is a little known lake near Boulder Lake, does not have any direct trail access, and is the least viewed lake in the East Humboldt range. It is located in the cliffs above 3rd Boulder Creek Canyon on the right as you are approaching Boulder Lake from 3rd Boulder Canyon starting from Starr Valley. It lies on a small shelf about one mile down from Boulder Lake and it may take some guesswork to recognize the shelf. The difficult climb to the lake from the canyon is relatively short but is steep through dense brush.

Michael White mentions Birdeye Lake in his book "A Hiking and Backpacking Guide". For a rare view of probably what is the very first photograph of Birdeye lake, go to Glacial Lake, East Humboldt Mountains which shows a black and white photo taken by photographer Timothy O'Sullivan who was with the Clarence King Survey during the 1860s. The lake name for the photo is shown as Glacial Lake. An O'Sullivan photo of nearby Boulder Lake is shown at Glacial Lake/Upland Lake, East Humboldt Mountains where the name of Boulder Lake is indicated as Glacial Lake and Upland Lake. Neither of those names are currently used. There are some references to the lake name spelling as Birdseye, but the U.S. Board of Geographic Names lists the official name as Birdeye with no variant names. Birdeye is a small lake that does not contain any fish.

For first-hand recent photos of the lake and vicinity with access information via Pole Canyon from the Secret Valley/Clover Valley side of the range, link to Part 5 of this site Birdeye Lake, Lake Peak, Smith Lake, Clover Valley and Cave Creek. Access to the lake from this route is up the steep and rocky ridge that separates 2nd and 3rd Boulder canyons.

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 Area Map Map Displaying Lake Locations and Other Geographic Features

Click the map image to expand to full size (file size is 282k so loading time may be slow). The map will show the locations of many features mentioned on these pages. Included are the communities of Elko, Wells, Deeth, Jiggs, Lee, Lamoille and Spring Creek. Some geographic features shown are Ruby Valley, Secret Pass, Harrison Pass, the Ruby Marshes (Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge), and Lamoille Canyon. Relative positions are shown for all named lakes in the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldts as well as some other major canyons. To prevent over-crowding, the distances apart are not exactly to scale.


The only thing better than hiking in is going in by horse. Relax and take in more of the scenery.

Several outfitters, located both on the east and west sides of the range, do an excellent job of providing four-footed transportation to almost the entire range of lakes. The season dates for most trips would usually start around the first week in July. If possible, make your reservations well in advance. Making reservations now for next summer is not too soon.

Look over the following destinations and drop me an email at Ruby Mountains Express for additional information, suggestions or recommendations.

Bill Gibson
HC 30 Box 197 #13
Elko, NV 89801
Tel: 775-744-2277
Elko Guide Service takes in the Lamoille Canyon area and south and includes the entire Ruby Crest trail. Other "south" areas would include Echo, Lost and Overland lakes. Ruby Crest Ranch is located near the South Fork Reservoir in the general direction of the community of Lee.

Elko Guide Service also offers hunting expeditions for deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, antelope, and other game animals and birds, as well as other miscellaneous activities. The latter includes bass fishing at the nearby Ruby Marshes, trout and bass fishing at the South Fork Reservoir, log cabin rentals, photography, cattle drives, and wild mustang and birding tours.

The other outfitters in the area, Humboldt, Nevada High Country, Hidden Lake, and Secret Pass, offer similar hunting expeditions and other miscellaneous activities; contact each for complete information.

Wilde Brough
HC 60 Box 160
Wells, NV 89835
Tel: 775-752-3714
Fax: 775-752-2389
Email: [email protected]
Web Site: www.nvhunting.com
Humboldt Outfitters covers the entire East Humboldt Wilderness range, with Boulder and Steele lakes being the most popular destinations. Hole in the Mountain Peak near Boulder Lake is another destination. Greys and Winchell lakes in the Angel Lake area could be trade-off destinations with another outfitter. Humboldt Outfitters is located in Clover Valley right below Steele Lake.

Todd Schwandt
P.O. Box 281388
Lamoille, NV 89828
Tel: 775-777-3277
Email: [email protected]
Additional information can be obtained through NevadaAdventureS website: Nevada High Country Outfitters/Jazz Ranch
Nevada High Country Outfitters takes in Lamoille Canyon to Dollar Lakes only. Other destinations are Verdi, Cold, and Boulder lakes, and north to Greys, Smith and Winchell lakes in the Angel Lake area. They are located on Dysart road at JAZ Ranch near the base of Snell Canyon, just a short distance from the white steepled Presbyterian church at Lamoille. Snell Canyon is located between Lamoille and Talbot canyons.

Henry Krenka
HC 60 Box 514
Ruby Valley, NV 89833
Tel: 775-779-2268
Hidden Lake Outfitters takes in Cold, Hidden, Soldier and Robinson lakes. They are located just off the Ruby Valley road at the base of Krenka Creek in Ruby Valley. Drive over Secret Pass from I-80 and the ranch is located on the left side of the road about two miles passed the junction of the Secret Pass road and the North Ruby Valley road.

Walt Gardner
Ruby Valley
Tel: 775-779-2201
Email: [email protected]
Web Site: Secret Pass Outfitters
Secret Pass Outfitters provides trips to Overland Lake from Ruby Valley, and into the Boulders area in the East Humboldts via Pole Canyon. After arriving at Boulder Lake you can make your way over the ridge to Steele Lake if desired. And with an off-trail scramble, you can be one of the few to ever view Birdeye Lake.

Several trips start almost from the outfitters' back door, thereby eliminating the necessity to transport the horses any real distance, if at all:

Verdi Lake: Nevada High Country Outfitters (Todd Schwandt)
Overland Lake: Elko Guide Service (Bill Gibson)
Lost Lake: Elko Guide Service (Bill Gibson)
Hidden/Robinson Lakes: Hidden Lake Outfitters (Henry Krenka)
Steele Lake: Humboldt Outfitters (Wilde Brough and Mike Morrison), although located right at the base of Steele Lake, horses may have to be transported in from north of Wells by Mike Morrison.

Horse trips to Boulder, Greys, Winchell, and Cold lakes, and all lakes accessed from Lamoille Canyon (Island, Dollar, Lamoille, Liberty, Favre, Echo, and North Furlong) require transporting the horses some distances to the trailheads. Seitz, Griswold and usually Smith lakes are hiking trips.

Hole in the Mountain (see Humboldt Outfitters in Part 3) is in the vicinity of Boulder Lake and can be accessed by the outfitters who access Boulder Lake from Starr Valley (Humboldt Outfitters and Nevada High Country Outfitters).

Decide on the area or areas you would like to visit and call the appropriate outfitter(s) for information, arrangements or recommendations. They will no doubt be able to accommodate most any kind of a trip you would like within their areas. Trips can be for several days, single days, pack you in and pick you up later, or pack you in and you hike out on your own.

Find out what gear and provisions are provided by the outfitter and what you need to furnish. Not all the outfitters can or will accommodate the same number of clients. If you might have an unusual number, such as only one or as many as eight or more, find out how many can be included for the particular trip. If younger children are to go along, bring this to the attention of the outfitters.

Ask for pricing and method of payment and any required deposit. Typically, costs could be $100 to $200 per horse per day, or there may be a flat rate for a particular trip. The cost per horse of single day trips or for trips where you are just transported in for a drop-off and you hike out on your own could be less than multi-day trips where more gear and provisions would be required. Not all the outfitters may be able to accommodate credit cards, and cash would be the preferred method of payment.

For additional Outfitters information and photos, link to Outfitters and Pack Trips

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If you would rather fly than drive:

Flying in or out of Elko is not all that convenient; you will not find many 747s or even 737s flying into the Elko airport. The major air provider is Skywest, tel 1-800-453-9417, a commuter airlines associated with Delta that flies in from Reno and Salt Lake City. Call the Elko airport at 775-777-7190 for any additional information that might be needed. Rental cars from Avis (800-331-1212) and Hertz (800-654-3131) are available at the Elko airport.

The closest thing to a commercial airlines with larger aircraft would be the gamblers' special junkets operated by Casino Express Airlines, associated with the Red Lion Inn, that do fly 737s in from various cities, but probably not on any regular, repeated schedule. Their contact telephone number is 800-258-8800.

It would probably be difficult to arrange your schedule with their schedules for round trips, but it might be worthwhile to contact them for a one way, either in or out. To fly in on Casino Express, you might have to "commit" yourself to so much gambling money (cash) but that doesn't mean you have to spend it that way.

Link to: Casino Express Airlines for flight information as it becomes available.

The other alternative would be to fly to either Reno or Salt Lake City and drive a rental vehicle from either of those locations. The distance from Reno is about 300 miles and the distance from Salt Lake City is about 230 miles. Drive in on I-80 which follows the Donner Party trail along the Humboldt River. Scenery along either route leaves something to be desired.

Motels are usually readily available but due to conventions and other attractions like the annual Basque Festival, try to make reservations well ahead of time. You can tell from the addresses below that the main street through Elko is Idaho Street. The area code is 775.

The larger, newer motels, usually complete with casinos, are located on the east end of Idaho Street. If an outside swimming pool is high on your preference list, the Best Western Gold Country Inn is the only motel on the east side of town with an outside pool and is a recommended choice.

Trips to Nevada are not complete without taking in any of the Basque restaurants. Elko has four; try them all. The Nevada Dinner House, the Biltoki and the Star Hote1 are all within close walking distance of each other on Silver Street.

If you are new to a Basque bar and restaurant, it may appear that everyone is sitting around sipping a coke. What they are actually having is a picon punch, or just picon, the traditional and popular Basque-American beverage. I suppose it is called "punch" due to the number of ingredients, but otherwise "punch" is a misnomer; like calling a martini, a martini punch.

The beverage is a mixture of Picon or Torani brand Amer Aperitif liqueur, brandy, grenadine, club soda, and a lemon twist served in a highball glass. If the first taste is not too appealing, perhaps a little bitter, just give yourself time to adjust to the flavor. Once you have adjusted, don't overdo it. No doubt all Basque bars include the brandy float with the picon but other more standard bars may not. If ordering from other bars, specifically request the brandy float if you want a full strength picon.


Click to Access NevadAdventureS Web Site
Explore NevadAdventureS for more colorful information on the Sagebrush and Silver state.

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Nevada Wilderness Areas and Great Basin National Park
A Hiking & Backpacking Guide

By Michael C. White

Nevada Wilderness Areas and Great Basin National Park by Michael White is a hiking guide to many wilderness areas throughout Nevada and includes information on the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldts. Normally listed at $14.95, it was recently listed at $11.96 (March 2003).

White's adept descriptions of the various hikes and surrounding scenery make you feel like you are actually there. Trail descriptions may seem to be overly detailed however, as he appears to point out every rise and fall and switchback along the trail. It may seem that a paragraph of trail description must cover at least two or three miles of trail, while in actuality it is only a half-mile or less. But by avoiding the common tendency to overestimate distance in the mountains, he tells distances as they are. As an example, he puts the Ruby Crest trail at a much more realistic 32 miles rather than the usual rounded upward distance of 40 miles.

Hiking Guide
Visitor's Guide to the Ruby Mountains

By Larry Hyslop

Hiking Guide and Visitor's Guide to the Ruby Mountains by Larry Hyslop are two hiking guides primarily on the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldts. The three books by White and Hyslop furnish information on a number of the hikes that have been presented here.

In addition to ordering from the above sources, the books by White and Hyslop might be available in Elko from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest office, 2035 Last Chance Road, 775-738-5171, or the Northeastern Nevada Museum, 1515 Idaho Street, 775-738-3418.


NEVADA, Magnificent Wilderness

One hundred twenty-eight pages of Nevada wilderness photos taken by photographer and Utah resident Scott T. Smith. This book can be obtained from amazon.com by accessing Nevada Bookstore.

The book's opening FORWARD paragraph (by Hal Rothman, History Professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas):

"My first vision of Nevada was at nightfall, crossing from eastern Oregon one summer long ago. Sunset approached with rapidity--one minute it was daylight, the next, night had fallen, first purple and then almost immediately black, the night of the undisturbed desert, with only stars above. The sole source of light on State Highway 140 came from my headlights. Silhouetted against the skyline were the starkest forms of landscape I had ever seen: lines, shapes and features that, even in the dark, defied categorization. These were not the ordinary scary monsters of the night. The images in front of my headlights were far different, far more surreal, yet simultaneously more real than the phantoms that creep at the edges of the night."

PREFACE (opening two paragraphs by photographer Scott Smith):

"Wallace Stegner [called the Dean of Western Writers who created the Literary Department at Stanford University and taught from 1946-1971] once noted that to appreciate the scenery of Nevada one had to acquire a new set of values about scenery. Nevada landscapes are more subtle than ostentatious. To those who define scenery as humid, green countryside, or snow-covered mountains rising above forested lakes, or crashing surf along a coastline, the vast and lonely terrain of Nevada's Great Basin and Mojave Deserts can appear hopelessly bleak and uninspiring. To these people Nevada remains a blank spot in their minds, just one hell of a long, dull drive to get to the surrealism of one of the neon gambling ghettos, or a transit to be endured while traveling to or from California.

"Those of us who have stopped to look, who have walked a mountain ridgeline or the edge of a playa, know that this land does not reveal itself all at once. It can be aloof even to those who love it. It may take many miles of driving and hiking before one appreciates the intricate relationship of flora and fauna, the exposed and complex geology, the complicated and compelling beauty of Nevada's wild country. Or it may be love at first sight. The mountains, valleys and plateaus of Nevada are full of splendidly isolated singular places. Here are some of the most remote, least visited, strangest landscapes in the country. I think this is wilderness at its best."

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Email correspondence to Ruby Mountains Express
I respond to all emails
George Sheaks
Ventura, CA
(Elko native)

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Part 1, Trail to Liberty Pass and Beyond
Part 2 Supplement, Other Wilderness Areas, Photos and Information
Part 3, Outfitters and Pack Trips
Part 3 Supplement, Outfitters, Pack Trips, Thomas Canyon, Right Fork Canyon and Ruby Valley
Part 4, Hiking the Entire Ruby Crest Trail with Lynda Mellows and Rosanne Baker