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Ruby Mountains Wilderness Trails

Document Info: Hike and Trail    

Ruby Mountains Wilderness trails

The Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail crawls along the top of the wilderness for 40 miles. Shorter side trails climb to the crest from several trailheads.

Be prepared for summer storms of several days duration, as the average annual dose of rain and snow compares with the norms for the Rockies. Because of the cool, moist climate, ponds abound, providing habitat for alpine plants that need cool, wet meadows. Here is found the largest area of alpine tundra in the Great Basin.

The Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail is the most popular route. It follows the crest of the Rubies from Lamoille Canyon to Harrison Pass, 40 miles to the south. Most people enter the Rubies through Roads End trailhead at the end of the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway, a paved 12-mile road. At least 100 people daily use this access during peak season, July 1 - August 31. Most of this traffic is day use only; beyond the first lake basins, solitude is found.

North Furlong, Overland and Long Canyon provide access to lesser-used stretches of the Ruby Crest Trail. Trailheads into the obscure northern section of the wilderness include Ruby Guard Station on the east side (off State Route 227) and Soldier Creek (about 20 miles north of Lamoille on primitive road). Most trails are open June 15 to September 15. Elevations range from 6,000 to 11,000 feet.

The Forest Service built a paved highway to the 8,800 foot level in glaciated Lamoille Canyon. At their steepest, its walls rise 2,400 feet in half a mile. Aspen fill the canyon floor. Roadside exhibits point out a hanging valley, avalanche scars, and other features. Camping is available, serving as a base for day hikes.

From Lamoille Canyon on the north to Harrison Pass on the south, a trail runs on or near the crest of the central Ruby Mountains for 43 miles. The 7-mile stretch nearest Lamoille Canyon is used more heavily than any other trail in the Ruby Range.

Access can be difficult for the few trails that climb into the Rubies from the adjoining plains. One exception is the Overland Lake, or Overland-Gardner Trail. Use the entries where the USFS has acquired easements across private land.

The steeper face of the Rubies is the east one. Not many trails climb it, and some of the trailess canyons are too steep at the heads to make good routes up to the Ruby Crest. One that "goes" is the valley of Thompson Creek, which drains east from the crest near the head of Lamoille Canyon. On this route, one climbs 3,500 feet in about 5 miles. This route lets you design a one-way trip that begins and ends on the east-side highway, with only a short car shuttle or hitch hike back to the starting point roadhead.

The Ruby Crest Trail is fairly well maintained and is a National Scenic Trail. The side trails are often ignored.

The Ruby Mountains Wilderness is home to high-elevation glacial lakes.  (c) Norman Herterich