HIKING THE RUBY MOUNTAINS PART 3 Ruby Mountains Express--Logo by Jocelyne Rohrback: www.jrnewmedia.com                       
Cliffs above Cold Lakes




Contents of this page:
Hidden Lake Outfitters (Hidden/Robinson Lakes) || Nevada High Country Outfitters (Cold Lakes) || Elko Guide Service (Overland Lake)
Humboldt Outfitters (Boulder Lake) || Secret Pass Outfitters || Backpacking Guide Service (Lamoille Canyon) || Jiggs & Harrison Pass Photos
Area Map || Campgrounds and Picnic Areas in Lamoille Canyon and at Angel Lake || Hanging Valley Nature Trail || Site Search Engine

View Photo Preview Page (1) || View Photo Preview Page (2) || Part 1 Trail to Liberty Pass and Beyond
Part 2 Other Wilderness Areas, Photos and Information || Part 2 Supplement Other Wilderness Areas, Photos and Information
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 New



Part 2 and Part 2 Supplement present the most common and direct way of reaching the Soldier Basin area from the west side of the range through Soldier Canyon from Lamoille Valley. A pack trip with Hidden Lake Outfitters goes up the east side of the range in Ruby Valley starting from the Krenka Creek trailhead.

Hidden Lake Outfitters is reached by driving over Secret Pass off I-80 from Elko. Descending from Secret Pass towards Ruby and Clover valleys, watch for the junction to the North Ruby Valley road on the left side of the Secret Pass road. Continue on the Secret Pass road about two miles past the North Ruby Valley junction to a sign on the left which identifies the entrance to Hidden Lake Outfitters.

 Hidden Lake Outfitters Hidden Lake Outfitters

Henry & Brandy Krenka Outfitter Henry Krenka and Daughter Brandy

There is an access road to the Krenka Creek trailhead directly across the Secret Pass--Ruby Valley road from the ranch entrance. This is a public access road that crosses about three cattle guards (no gates to open) and continues for a mile or so through the sagebrush into the foothills. A 2-WD vehicle can make it most or all the way up to the trailhead.

The initial destination is the high ridge and saddle directly in front. The terrain is steep but the trail is easy to follow and makes numerous switchbacks through mostly open country to the ridge. This is a good deer spotting area but Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats are scarce. The next destination is the main trail in Soldier Basin but upon scaling the ridge, there is one canyon to cross before dropping down into the basin.

 Trail Break Trail Break

The trail will join the main Soldier Basin trail at a sign indicating Ruby Valley (where you started from) if you were going the other direction. Continue to the left on this trail to Soldier, Hidden and Robinson lakes. Hidden Lakes should be your primary destination. The trail crosses Soldier Creek from left to right, makes a short but steep climb, and the trail to Hidden Lakes branches off to the right about 100 yards after the creek crossing. This is not as distinct a trail as the main trail.

 Creek Crossing Horses at Creek Crossing

The Hidden Lakes trail begins to the right just a short distance beyond this creek crossing.

The trail gains some altitude and a half-mile or so later Hidden Lakes will be found beneath the cliffs. The larger of the two lakes, on the right when facing the cliffs, is the best fishing lake of the two. During a recent trip, two fisherman were at the lakes and had caught about ten or twelve Cutthroats the past two days.

 Upper Hidden Lake Upper Hidden Lake Lower Hidden Lake Lower Hidden Lake

The trail from Hidden Lakes continues around the side of the mountain and skirts the far end of Robinson Lake which has some swampy areas (and probably some cattle). Try wading out to the rock a few feet from shore for some fishing. This lake is shallow at about six feet or so and fishing for Brook trout should be good.

 Robinson Lake Robinson Lake Cliffs Above Robinson Lake Cliffs Above Robinson Lake

Cold Lakes are on the other side of the cliffs in the above right photo.

The Soldier Lake group can be checked out on the way back down the canyon as the main trail will pass by this group of ponds and one or two small lakes.

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Nevada High Country Outfitters is located on the west side of the range in Lamoille Valley. From the Lamoille Highway, SR 227, drive through the community of Lamoille to the white steepled Presbyterian church at the Crossroads. Turn right and follow the road as it makes a left turn a short distance later. At the third road to the right, Dysart Road, make a right turn and make two or three more right angle turns to make your way into the ranch.

 Chad Alexander Chad Alexander Jaime Henriod Jaime Henriod

Nevada High Country Outfitters guides Chad Alexander and Jaime Henriod.

Nevada High Country Outfitters goes to Dollar Lakes in Lamoille Canyon, Cold Lakes, north to Greys and Winchell lakes, and to Verdi Lake, trail permitting. Trail description and locating the access road to the Cold Lakes trailhead from Lamoille Valley is described in Part 2, Other Wilderness Areas.

Unloading the Horses Unloading the Horses Lakes Beyond the High Peak Lakes Beyond the High Peak

Cold Lakes Trail Scenery Trail Scenery Leading Horses Leading Horses up Rocky Trail

The final 150 yards of trail before the lake are steep and rocky and the horses must be led up this section of trail.

 Upper Cold Lake Upper Cold Lake Lower Cold Lake Lower Cold Lake

 Cliffs Above Lakes Cliffs Above Lakes Cliffs Above Lakes Cliffs Above Lakes

This is a potentially good area for spotting Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats but they weren't out on this particular day. Ruby Valley is on the far side of the ridge in the left photo.

 Jeannie, Jaime, Buddy & Horses Jeannie, Jaime, Buddy & Horses Snowball Fight Anyone Looking for a Victim

Upper Cold Lake Upper Cold Lake Lower Cold Lake Lower Cold Lake

Robinson Lake lies over the ridge in the right photo. Robinson Lake can be accessed by climbing to the saddle on the left side of the high peak in the center of the photo.

Michael and Horse Michael & Horse--If the Hat Fits, Wear It

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Ruby Crest Ranch is located near the South Fork Reservoir. Take the Lamoille Highway, SR 227, from Elko to the junction of SR 228 at Spring Creek. Turn right at the stop light and continue for 5.5 miles to the turnoff to the South Fork Recreation Area. Turn right for about two miles to Hamilton Stage Road and again turn right. The road will connect with Meadow View Drive. Merge left on Meadow View until the road makes another right turn on Hamilton Stage Road. Proceed to the ranch on the left.

 Bill Gibson and Kristy Wright Bill Gibson, Outfitter, and Kristy Wright, Trail Guide

Elko Guide Service makes trips over the entire Ruby Crest Trail, and to Echo, Lost and Overland lakes.

 Ruby Crest Ranch Ruby Crest Ranch Cabin Cabin at the Base of Gennette Canyon

The cabin is the starting point for the pack trip to Overland Lake from the west side of the range. Gennette Canyon is some distance from the ranch near the South Fork Recreation Area, and riders spend the night at the cabin for an early start the next morning.

 Bill Gibson Bill Gibson Horses at Corral Horses at Corral near Cabin

The trail starts as a gentle sloping trail through sagebrush and some aspens as it works its way towards a distant high ridge. The trail eventually joins the Ruby Crest Trail and switchbacks take over as the terrain becomes steeper when approaching the saddle on the ridge. Upon crossing the divide, the terrain on the east side is steep and rocky and the ride is not as leisurely as it had been on the west side.

 Rocky Terrain Rocky Terrain
Ascending and Descending the Steep and Rocky Trail out of Overland Lake

 Pond Classic View of Pond Above Overland Lake Overland Lake Overland Lake

 Cabin at Lake Cabin at Lake Overland Lake Another View of the Lake

The cabin in the photo was constructed by the CCC's (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the '30s. Do not use the cabin since it is occupied by bats, mice and other rodents and the viral concentration would be quite high.

 Lake Scenery Lake Scenery Candice and Horse Candice and Horse

Theo and Tux Theo and Tux

Nevada ranch kittens brought in from the cold. Theo was rather friendly and wasn't too hard to catch but Tux didn't want anything to do with anybody. But after some concerted effort we were able to keep him off some coyote's dinner menu.

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HUMBOLDT OUTFITTERS (Wilde Brough and Mike Morrison)


Humboldt Outfitters is located in Clover Valley at the base of the East Humboldt range. Drive to Wells on I-80 from Elko and take Route 93 south from Wells to SR 232. SR 232 continues south along the base of the mountains. Look for Humboldt Outfitters on the right side of the Clover Valley Road.

Humboldt Outfitters primarily takes in Boulder and Steele lakes but might also go to Greys and Winchell lakes in the Angel Lake area as trade-off destinations with another outfitter.

 Mike, Marc and Matt
Humboldt Outfitters Master Guide "Big Mike" Morrison
Assistant Guides Marc and Matt Morrison

The meet location will not be at the Outfitters' ranches for all trips. If you were going to Steele Lake with Humboldt Outfitters, the meeting place would of course be at the ranch (Steele Lake is directly above the ranch). However, if going to Boulder Lake, accessed from the opposite side of the range, the meeting place would probably be the Starr Valley Convention Center. From Elko, drive east about 30 miles on I-80 to the turnoff to Deeth. A mile or so down this road, a sign will indicate Deeth to the left but keep going straight. The Convention Center is a small white building on the left side of the road five miles from the I-80 turnoff. The front door of the building faces the road.

There is a turnoff to the right at the Convention Center and this road will continue south along the base of the mountains through Starr Valley. The starting point for the trip, a few miles down this road, is from a ranch located adjacent to the road and more or less between 3rd and 4th Boulder Creek canyons. Starting from there, the trip to Boulder is nine miles one way. The old route, when you could drive some distance up 3rd Boulder, was about seven miles.

 Deb & Candice Deb & Candice Old Reliable Old Reliable

There were about as many mules on the above trip as there were horses, and the mules seemed to adjust better to the rigors of the improvised trail. Completing the round trip in a single day, whether by foot or on horse, you will definitely know at the end that you have been somewhere.

Hole in the Mountain Peak Hole in the Mountain Peak (distant photo)
Photo furnished by Humboldt Outfitters guide Mike Morrison.

Hole in the Mountain Peak Hole in the Mountain Peak (close photo)

Photo furnished by Doug Clarke, U.S. Forest Service, Elko. The location was reached by a long hike starting from Lizzie's Basin trailhead in Clover Valley.

The window is about 30 feet in diameter.

The trail starts in the sagebrush and proceeds up the ridge between the two canyons. Hole in the Mountain Peak is visible near the skyline of a distant ridge. The window, around 30 feet in diameter, can be clearly seen but it is too far away to be impressive. Some distance later 3rd Boulder Creek Canyon will be immediately off to the right. The horses will pick their own trail down the rather steep descent into the canyon. At that point a road continues for a short distance and the going is easy for a ways. The former hiking trail following the creek at the bottom of the canyon is completely overgrown and cannot be used.

 Ridge Above 3rd Boulder Canyon Ridge Above 3rd Boulder Canyon Trail Break Trail Break

Cindy & Horse Cindy & Horse

After the road comes to an end, the trail continues along the left side of the canyon and, losing itself in places, makes its way through open terrain, sagebrush, mud, boulders and aspens. There is hardly any question as to why this area was named "The Boulders". Occasionally the aspens are so thick that it is difficult for the pack horse with its wide pack saddles to make its way through.

Traveling slowly up the canyon, terrific scenery takes over with steep and high granite cliffs imposing themselves along the sides of the canyon. Now is the time to start testing your Deer, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat spotting abilities. Nothing beats going in by horse for taking in the scenery. When hiking there is the tendency to be looking down at the trail much of the time to keep from stumbling over rocks, snags and fallen trees, and you miss the deer and other wildlife darting out ahead.

Trail Scenery Cliffs Along Trail Ridge Above Boulder Lake View Towards Ridge Above Boulder Lake

The canyon makes a sweeping turn to the left and you can see the ridge up ahead that separates Boulder and Steele lakes. The distance slowly closes in and finally you get the satisfaction of being one of relatively few people who have ever seen Boulder Lake. One of the first things to do is to climb to the ridge directly in back of the lake and view Steele Lake on the other side. Climb down to the lake if inclined but have a good look at the terrain first. This is Mountain Goat territory.

 Boulder Lake Boulder Lake from Near Side Boulder Lake Boulder Lake from Far Side

Upon a recent arrival, a Forest Service helicopter was engaged in wildlife counting and it chased 25-30 Bighorn Sheep for about a half-mile around the upper basin. We were down at the lake at the time and could not get suitable photos. We climbed to the ridge a short time later and came almost face to face with four Mountain Goats. I was unable to photograph the closest one, less than six feet away, but three others came by and I was able to get digital photos of those.

 Mountain Goats Above Boulder Lake Mountain Goat on Ridge Above Steele Lake
Mountain Goats on Ridge Between Boulder and Steele Lakes

We were there during mid-day and attempts at fishing were unsuccessful. However, the lake continues to sustain large Brook trout. Brian Harasha of Spring Creek had been to the lake on an overnight trip about a week earlier, and, fishing during the early morning and evening, reported that they caught the biggest Brook trout that he had ever seen. He reported that trail conditions were poor, and that hiking in over the Secret-Starr trail took 15 hours of actual hiking over two days to reach the lake.

 Boulder Lake Boulder Lake Steele Lake Steele Lake

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Secret Pass Outfitters in Ruby Valley has changed ownership from Joe Wines to Walt Gardner. Ranch location in Ruby Valley is unknown. They can be contacted at telephone number 775-779-2201.

Secret Pass Outfitters makes trips to Boulder and Overland lakes. The trailhead sign shown below is a public access route to Overland Lake and Secret Pass Outfitters uses this route to the lake. Secret Pass Outfitters, when owned by Joe Wines, was located within walking distance of the trailhead.

To locate the trailhead sign on your own, drive to Harrison Pass on SR 228 from Spring Creek, a distance of 33 miles from the Spring Creek junction. Drive 11 miles over the pass to the Ruby Valley road and turn left. Nine miles later look for the Rock House off to the left side of the road. A short distance later, after crossing a cattle guard, look for the trailhead sign off to the left side of the Ruby Valley road.

 Rock House Rock House  Trailhead Sign to Overland Lake Trailhead Sign to Overland Lake

Start of Overland Lake Trail Start of Overland Lake Trail
Drive up the road as far as possible to eliminate some hiking distance.

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Allen Tatomer specializes in conducting guided backpacking trips in the Lamoille Canyon area and makes at least two trips per season. He is a Lamoille native currently residing in Northern California, and founded the Bay Area based California Adventure Club and Family Trekkers hiking groups. Most Ruby Mountain trips are run under the auspicies of the "Ruby Alpinists", a specialty group of the California Adventure Club.

He has been conducting an Early Season trip in June, and then a Fall Colors trip in early October. The trips include a one or two night campover at the Thomas Canyon campgrounds, camp breakfast provided, and then several days overnight backpacking into the mountains to various locations depending on conditions. Participants will receive an honorary Ruby Alpinists membership and certificate after completion of their first trip.

Tatomer has a good knowledge of the mountains and most of their more popular canyons, and has been able to give all participants a unique hiking/backpacking adventure. Trips are noted for reconoitering off-trail jaunts, visiting some breathtaking snow covered passes and ridges, visiting unnamed lakes complete with peak bagging, great fishing, and evening star gazing, all at a generally relaxed pace. His built in flexiblity can allow an off day on longer trips, giving participants the choice to laze around the high camp and do what they wish. Favorite destinations include upper Thomas Canyon cirque, upper Right Fork meadows and/or cirque, upper Island Lake cirque to Full House Peak, and upper Lamoille Canyon to Snow Lake and Mt. Fitzgerald Peak.

 South Face of Mt. Fitzgerald South Face of Mt. Fitzgerald Upper Thomas Canyon Panorama from Mt. Fitzgerald Upper Thomas Canyon from Mt. Fitzgerald

 Mt. Fitzgerald Base Camp Mt. Fitzgerald Base Camp
Photos by Allen Tatomer from the Mt. Fitzgerald area, a popular hiking destination, located towards the end of Thomas Canyon.

The trips are open to early teens and older; the only requirement being the ability to carry ones own backpack and gear. Allen has attracted a wide variety of conditioned hikers ranging from borderline conditioned car campers to accomplished climbers. He has had clients from New Jersey to California that includes some from Las Vegas, Redding and Portland. Average trip size is about eight participants, but will be limited to no more than 25. Fees vary from $40 to $100 depending on the entertainment and number of participants. A visit to one of the great Basque restaurants in Elko for evening dinner is included.

Small lake at upper Right Fork Canyon (nicknamed Goat Lake)  Goat Lake at upper Right Fork Canyon Photo by Allen Tatomer during July 2001

Allen is a member of the Sierra Club and the California/Nevada Desert Committee, and he holds a certification in Wilderness First Aid by the American Health and Safety Association. All trip participants are required to sign a liability waiver in lieu of insurance.

Allen or Moses Allen (or is it Moses) somewhere in the Rubies

2004 Annual Ruby Rendezvous from June 18-26th, 2004, includes Car Camp, Day Hike, Peak Bagging and Backpacking Adventure. Join us for part or all. Reservations required. Call or email for more information. Limited to 25 participants.


Email Allen Tatomer or call 925-439-0434 (fax 925-432-1022).

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 Jiggs Scool House Old Jiggs School House Outdoor Plumbing Outdoor Plumbing

Jiggs is located on the way to Harrison Pass on SR 228 about 26.5 miles from the Spring Creek junction of SR 227 and SR 228. At the ages of three and four, the web author spent twenty below zero winters at the Jiggs School House.

 Harrison Pass Summit Harrison Pass Summit Ruby Crest Trail Sign Ruby Crest Trail Sign

Depending on your hiking direction, the Ruby Crest Trail signpost identifies either the beginning or end of the trail.

 CCC Cabins CCC Cabins
CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Cabins in Harrison Pass

Working for $1 per day Government pay during the '30s, the CCC employees used the cabins when working in the Harrison Pass and Ruby Valley areas. They constructed many of the trails in the mountains.

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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.



Two designated campgrounds are available, one at Thomas Canyon off Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountain range and the other at Angel Lake in the East Humboldt range.

The Thomas Canyon Campground is located on the right side of the Lamoille Canyon road eight miles from the canyon entrance. It is generally open May through September but this can change with the weather. There are about 42 campsites that are fairly secluded due to a heavy concentration of aspen and cottonwood trees. The campsites generally have fire rings and running water is available along with quite good "outdoor accommodations".

 Campground Entrance Campground Entrance  Registration Information Registration Information

The peak season is June through August and if you want to camp in the canyon, it is advisable to make reservations to ensure a campsite. Reservations must be made at least four days ahead of time and can be made up to eight months in advance. The reservation period extends to September 1st, and after that it is first-come, first-served. Call 1-877-444-6777 for reservations. The daily rate is normally $14 and payment arrangements are made at the time of the call. Note that the office for reservations is located in Texas so they cannot provide any local information. To inquire about snow or other conditions in the Ruby Mountains, call the U.S. Forest Service office at 1-775-752-3357. Large motor homes would be out of place in the campground, and camps usually consist of tents, pickups with camper shells, or small camper vehicles.

Upon your arrival at the campgrounds, check in with the campground's host who usually resides in a trailer to the left upon entering the campground. If you are arriving cold without reservations, contact the host for available campsites.

The Angel Lake campground is located at Angel Lake, a twelve mile drive on SR 231 from the town of Wells. Wells is located 50 miles east of Elko on I-80. There are about 26 sites at the campground and it is not quite as formalized as the Thomas Canyon campground. Reservations can be made from five to 120 days in advance by calling the National Recreation Reservations Services at 1-800-280-2267 or the 1-877-444-6777 number as shown above for Thomas Canyon. Fees are $14 per night and most campsites can accommodate two vehicles.

An on-site host is usually available at campsite 26. If a site is unoccupied, you can use the site but you may have to move later if it is reserved. Due to the winding road and steep climb to Angel Lake, large RV's are not recommended. The road to Angel Lake is normally open around the end of May during the Memorial Day weekend and campsites are available at that time. The campgound hosts are usually there the first of June. The U.S. Forest Service office at Wells can be called at 1-775-752-3357 for road and snow conditions.

There is another campground called the Angel Creek Campground located at the base of the mountain right before starting up the steep grade to Angel Lake. The most recent available fee for this campground is shown as $12 per night. This campground would be preferable to driving a large motorhome up to Angel Lake and reservations can be made through the same reservation number, 1-877-444-6777.

 Angel Lake Recreation Area Angel Lake Recreation Area Angel Lake Angel Lake
The "No Overnight Camping" refers to a temporary condition.

Lamoille Canyon has two picknicking areas that are not to be used for overnight camping. The Powerhouse Picnic area is located at the mouth of the canyon and an exit road to the right off the Lamoille Canyon road leads into the area. This site can remain open for some time into the late fall and winter before the road might be closed due to snow.

 Powerhouse Picnic Area Powerhouse Picnic Area Registration Information Registration Information
The sign warns of the possibility of rattlesnakes. This is the most likely area in the canyon where they might be seen.

 Lamoille Creek Through Picnic Area Lamoille Creek Through Picnic Area

The Terraces picknicking area is located on the left side of the Lamoille Canyon road about 10.5 miles from the mouth of the canyon, and this area would close around the first or second snowfall of the season.

 Terraces Picnic Area Terraces Picnic Area Entrance to Terraces Entrance to Terraces

The daily rate at the picnic areas is $4 on the honor system. Both areas have good accommodations and they are usually not crowded.

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There is an easy hike, or walk, mostly through aspens on the Nature Trail located on the right side of the Lamoille Canyon road a mile or so past the Thomas Canyon campground. Look for the Nature Trail sign but it could be hidden by cars parked along side the road. In this case, park where you see the other cars. If you come to the Terraces picnic area you have gone a half mile too far.

 Hanging Valley Hanging Valley, Start of the Nature Trail

Nature Trail Through Aspens Nature Trail Through Aspens Beaver Pond Beaver Pond

The trail makes a one-quarter mile loop through aspens and cottonwoods and passes by some beaver dam activity that resulted in some realignment of Lamoille Creek. These dams and burrows are more impressive early in the season, June or July, when there is more water flowing in the creek and the beaver ponds are deeper. There is hardly any rise or fall in elevation along the easily traveled trail.

Beaver Pond and Dam Beaver Pond and Dam Lamoille Creek Lamoille Creek Above Dam

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George Sheaks
Ventura, CA
(Elko native)

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Part 1, Trail to Liberty Pass and Beyond
Part 2, Other Wilderness Areas
Part 2 Supplement, Other Wilderness Areas, Photos and Information
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