Lincoln County High Point Trip Report

on south ridge of Mount Grafton South

Date: June 27, 2003
Author: William Everett

The route I chose to reach the south ridge of Mount Grafton may not be the best, but there weren't any other trip reports posted, so I'm offering this.

Starting on Highway 93 south of Ely, NV, about a mile north of the Lincoln-White Pine county line, turn west on a dirt road. Immediately after turning off the highway, before the cattle grate, there is a fairly rough and fairly large parking area on the left, there is also a stop sign as you face back looking at the highway.

After the cattle grate, the road is very rough and rocky. It is barely drive-able by passenger cars; trucks shouldn't have much trouble. As you drive along, there are a few campsites with fire rings. These are good places to camp if you want stay here the night before you go up or a place to park if you become concerned about the roughness of the road. There are a few rough 4-wheel roads splitting off from the main road, I think mostly to the right, just stay on the road that looks in the best condition. A few miles in, after hillsides have risen on both sides of the road, there is jeep track leading off to the left up a grassy slope onto a ridge. If your vehicle is capable, you can take this branch, otherwise, find a place to park your car (which isn't easy), and start hiking up the track.

The jeep road leads up to the top of a broad grassy ridge and heads west up it towards Mount Grafton. From here you have a good view all around. The track continues, vaguely, up the ridge until it gets to thicker vegetation at the base of the mountain. From here, you're on your own. It's a cross country scramble up the slope to the top. Finding your way up to the top is fairly simple. Finding your way back down is more complicated. Pay close attention to where you're going so you can find your way back down to the same ridge you started on.

The trees are fairly thick, but not so bad that you really have fight through them. There are also substantial sections of boulder-covered slope. You can skirt around these, or you can climb up them to avoid the brush. The flowers were blooming nicely at the time of my trip, especially some nice large flowers of a small cactus. Another thing I saw on the way up were ants. I have never seen so many ants in one place. I frequently came across extremely large anthills, composed largely of pine needles, it seemed. I saw one that was about 4 feet across and 3 feet high. Be careful about stopping on the way up, as you may find ants crawling all over you and your pack.

If you just continue going uphill, you should eventually reach the summit of Mount Grafton. At the top was a cairn and a small American flag. I saw no register. From the top, looking south along the ridge line, you see a small bump in the ridge, and then a more prominent bump beyond that. The county line is just on the other side of the larger bump. I headed down the ridge and contoured along the west side of the bumps, avoiding the unnecessary up and down going over the top of the bumps. At the far side I used my GPS to confirm my position and then wandered up and down the ridge line some to try and find a marker or register. I could not find one.

Heading back, I went back along the ridge and ended up contouring underneath Mount Grafton on the east side rather than make the climb to the top again. I had avoided this on the way up because I wanted to avoid the brush (aspens, mostly) but it wasn't too bad. It is possible to do this highpoint without ever actually going to the top of Mount Grafton, although it's only a few hundred extra feet and I think it's worth it.

This hike took me 8 hours and 50 minutes, starting from the dirt road just below where the jeep track leaves off. I have done all of the Nevada county highpoints except for Elko and Mineral, and I would say this is the most difficult except for Boundary peak in Esmerelda county, because of the length, and the extensive bushwhacking and cross-country scrambling.

There is another dirt road just a little further south than the one I used. From above, it looked as though that might provide a better and closer access, although it might have it's own obstacles that I am not aware of.