Peak 2,846ft P300
Peak 3,986ft
Peak 3,966ft P500
Peak 3,874ft P300
Peak 3,891ft P300
Peak 4,114ft P300
Peak 4,051ft
Peak 4,183ft P300
Peak 3,927ft P300

Feb 24, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX


I still had a few days left of an extended road trip. I was back in California the previous night, sleeping off US95 in a wash somewhere between SearchLight and Needles. In the morning I drove out to Essex for some peakbagging fun in the Piute Mtns. I had visited the area in 2012 to do the range highpoint, a P1K, then ignored it. Some online research showed that the Piute Mtns Wilderness has a cut through it to allow OHV access north-south across the range. This looked to make for some fun Jeeping while allowing access to a bevy of minor summits. It proved to be a very enjoyable day, garnering 9 summits before the day was up.

Portions of US66 between Needles and Ludlow have been out of commission since floods wiped out some pavement. Caltrans has installed some Road Closed barriers at several locations, but one can drive around them, seemingly without repercussions. I went around the easternmost one so that I could access the BLM's Piute Crossing route starting from US66. It turns out the junction is about 1/4mi east of the first road washout. I checked out the washout - still no work to repair it - but there is a graded bypass that any vehicle can use - just not at highway speeds. The Piute Crossing Route is suitable for high-clearance. 4WD may be needed for sections with deep sand. The Jeep had no issues, though there was pinstripping to be had in some places.

Peak 2,846ft

This was the first summit encountered after driving the first 3mi of the BLM route. The peak looks like a mini-volcano, standing out by itself from the rest of the range. I parked about mile to the south of it, following a wash downhill to the north to reach the base of the peak, then up the east side where the gradient is slightly easier. Though steep, the footing is decent and goes quickly. I left the first of nine registers on the day, a record, I believe.

Peak 3,986ft

I drove a few more miles south on the main route, then a spur road to the southeast that gets one within half a mile on the west side of the peak. I went up and down the West Ridge, using a nice burro trail to start. At the summit I found a tattered mining claim in a rusted tin. It dated to the 1920s, though the exact date had disintegrated. I left the claim in the tin along with a new register at the highpoint.

Peak 3,966ft

This summit (and the next two) lies on the west side of the Piute Crossing route, about 1.5mi southwest of the previous peak. I parked about half a mile east of the peak and went up the East Ridge for the ascent, and an alternate route to the southeast for the descent. Andy Smatko had visited the peak in 1966, but I was unable to find any evidence of his visit. I added his name to the register I left before descending.

Peak 3,874ft - Peak 3,891ft

These two peaks can be combined with the previous one as they lie only a short distance to the south. I probably would have done this, but I forgot to bring more registers. So back to the Jeep I went, moving it a short distance south, and then doing these two peaks in a nice little loop - up the Northeast Ridge of Peak 3,874ft, then southeast to Peak 3,891ft across the connecting saddle, then down the NNW Ridge of Peak 3,891ft. Most of these and the previous peaks are composed of darker volcanic rock with good footing.

Peak 4,114ft - Peak 4,051ft - Peak 4,183ft

The last four summits were decomposing granite peaks, loose slopes with better granite at the summits. This group of three are found east of the main route and the previous two peaks. A spur road leads to a game guzzler on the southwest side of Peak 4,183ft (later I found the spur I used was inside the Wilderness now. It's not really needed as it adds less than half a mile to the outing). I parked before the guzzler, due south of Peak 4,114ft and started from there. It was a short but steep climb up its south side. The summit is a jumble of granite blocks, but still class 2 (as all the peaks today were). The traverse between Peak 4,114ft and Peak 4,051ft to the east went across some rolling terrain, surprisingly lush compared to most of the desert in this area. The southwest face of Peak 4,051ft looked intimidating, leading me to look for an easier route - I found it on the SE Ridge, easy class 2. Because it needed investigating, I decided to check out the SW Face on the descent, finding it easier than it had looked easier, thanks to a convenient groove and slope connecting to easier ground below. Though the highest of the trio, Peak 4,183ft proved the easiest, going up the NE side and down the NW Slope. John Vitz had visited in 1999, but I found no register as expected, sadly.

Peak 3,927ft

This peak is the furthest south of the day's summits, just outside the Wilderness boundary and south of BLM route 212. I parked north of the peak about 1/3mi away, going up one route and down another on the north side. It was 4p by the time I returned and time to call it a day. I decided to drive out west on BLM route 212 that goes through the Lazy Daisy Ranch. I thought I might find a locked gate, but it appears there is an easement through the ranch (some cattle are grazed out here, though I saw none today) to allow through traffic. I drove out through Essex on US66 and then to a campsite about a mile away (need to get some distance from the busy railroad that goes through Essex). More fun tomorrow...


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