Peak 3,251ft P300
Peak 3,828ft P500
Peak 3,612ft P300
Peak 4,635ft P300

Jan 30, 2024

With: Patrick O'Neill

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


Our second day in California Valley had us at the northeast end, where a small collection of hills separate California and Pahrump Valleys near the Nevada border. We'd camped the previous night between two of these that we climbed that evening. In the morning, we left Patrick's Grand Cherokee at the campsite and took my Jeep for the morning's outings.

Peak 3,251ft

We drove the Jeep a few miles northeast on BLM road AR051, then a short distance west on a lesser road to get us within about a mile of Peak 3,251ft on its SE side. The summit is located at the far northwest end of the summit ridge, so we took the easy way around the southwest side where most of the distance is covered over desert flats. A short climb up to the ridge then got us to the summit, taking half an hour, all easy class 2. To the northeast and east is the massive Pahrump Valley through which the CA/NV border runs. On the California side is the unicorporated community of Charleston View. Various proposals for large communities of up to 65,000 homes have been floated over the last several decades, and a grid of dirt roads have been laid out as a start (google street view has driven all these roads), but to date little has come of it and the population remains under 50 in a handful of scattered homes. We left a register at the summit before descending back via a slightly more direct route.

Peak 3,828ft - Peak 3,612ft

We drove back along AR051 and then a spur road that took us to a prospect on the east side of Peak 3,274ft, one of the peaks we'd climbed the previous evening. It appears that this spur road is completely within the Pahrump Valley Wilderness, but there is no signage to indicate this and we only discovered this afterwards. Our starting point would allow us to do these two summits in a five mile loop (probably 6.5mi if starting from the Wilderness boundary). We headed ENE to Peak 3,828ft, the highest of the two with more than 600ft of prominence. The going is easy again for most of the distance, then a final steepening climb that gains about 700ft in a short distance. We reached the summit ridge a bit northwest of the summit, then followed the ridge to the highpoint. The highpoint is marked by a good-sized cairn and the remains of a sign fastened to a pole, with only the last few letters, "ess", readable. Mark Adrian had visited the summit in 2020, leaving a register that we dutifully signed.

Peak 3,612ft was about a mile and a half south of the first summit, our route chosen to minimize elevation loss/gain between them. We headed southeast along the summit ridge, dropping to a saddle before turning south and southwest to avoid Pt. 1088m. We descended to a wash, took a shortcut into an adjacent wash, then climbed to Peak 3,612ft's summit ridge from the northeast. This was an easier gradient than the previous peak, and once on the summit ridge, it was a straightforward hike to the highpoint at the south end of the ridgeline. Mark had left a register here on the same day in 2020 as the previous peak - likely we were simply retracing the route he'd taken. On the return, we headed north on the summit ridge and continued along it as much as we could since it was breezier and cooler than had we simply dropped off the west side and returned via the desert floor. We dropped off the north end and then across the flats for the last part, returning shortly after 1p. About three and a third hours for the whole outing.

Peak 4,635ft

This summit is the northernmost in the Kingston Range. We had attempted to reach it the previous day, but had had trouble finding the roads depicted on the topo map which weren't matching what we found on the ground. With cell service, we were able to peruse the satellite view and figure out how to make it work. We returned to our campsite and picked up Patrick's GC, then driving both back out on Mesquite Valley Rd. We parked the GC at a junction on the southeast side of the Nopah Range. The problem, we found, was that the older road had been washed out and a new section graded to bypass the washout. Google Maps still shows the old washed out section, but I've submitted an edit to correct this. This newer section has an old Road Closed sign, seemingly obsolete. We were able to drive the road just fine, no gates, no further washouts. This is the same road that the BLM calls "Mesquite Valley Trail" (also signed as AR063) and connects to Excelsior Mine Rd in the Kingston Range. I had driven it a short distance from Excelsior Mine Rd the previous day when visiting Peak 4,977ft. We drove the road in the Jeep about six miles northeast and east to another junction, turning off Mequite Valley Trail to take the spur road an additional 2.5mi to the southeast, where it climbs up a drainage on the southwest side of Peak 4,635ft. The road drops into a wash (shown on the topo as a rougher 4WD route), but we only made it up a short distance before stopping when I lost track of the road in the gravelly wash. It mattered little, as we were now only about half a mile from the summit.

We'd burned more than an hour and a half with the driving, and it wasn't until 2:45p that we started for the summit. It turned out to be harder than the half mile distance had us believe. We crossed the wide wash and onto the peak's NW Ridge, finding much scrambling with several false summits. It would take most of an hour's time to finally reach the top. No Adrian register on this one, so we left our own while taking in the fine afternoon lighting over the Kingston Range. We decided it would be easier to drop off the southwest side of the peak and follow the wash back, a steeper and longer route that seemed to work better overall. We were back by 4:20p and ready to call it a day.

We drove back down to Mesquite Valley Rd and Patrick's GC, showered with the setting sun, then to Tecopa where we had dinner at the Kit Fox Cafe. It was suprisingly good wood-fired pizza that we both enjoyed. The small cafe had several parties comprised of interesting characters, both local and tourist. The local guy tried talking the other patrons into visiting his mine (Tecopa Mines on Google Maps) for a tour the next day. Lead and tin are no longer mined there, but he's trying to make a tourist business of it. Afterwards we drove east out of town on the Old Spanish Trail Hwy and found a quiet place to camp on the west side of the Nopah Range.


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