Services, Getting There
Supplies: Elko 45 miles to the north. Access is via state highway 228
Hikes & Trails
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Wilderness Area Status
Citizen Proposed Area
Managing Agency: Forest Service
The Ruby Mountains Wilderness Area offers all users a high quality experience, yet of all the impressive country and potential solitude, most people are found near Lamoille Canyon. South of Harrison Pass, however, is a 71,632 roadless area that receives much less attention. Those turned away from Lamoille Canyon’s popularity may be interested in exploring Pearl Peak – a 10,847 foot mountain in the heart of the roadless area – to find solitude in a less explored portion of the Rubies. Traveling farther south, one could also visit Sherman Mountain, another 10,000 foot giant in the same roadless area.
Though many significant peaks in Nevada are ascended regularly, Pearl Peak’s summit is seldom visited, and solitude is assured. Lacking any established trails, an ascent must navigate ridges, steep walls, forests, and talus in order to stand on top. Perhaps someday Pearl Peak will be an extension of the Ruby Crest Trail, and we will be glad the area’s wilderness qualities were protected at a time when few had identified immediate threats.But this area is witnessing the beginning of a disturbing trend; an intrusion of all-terrain vehicles that stray from designated Forest Routes – particularly the basin between Harrison Pass and Pearl Peak. Allowing responsible use of off-road vehicles on existing Forest Routes, while recommending Pearl Peak’s backcountry as wilderness, would be an effective management solution which considers all user groups, allows access, and preserves the landscape and wildlife that are unique to the Ruby Mountains.
Clearly, the current boundary of the Ruby Mountain Wilderness area is not sufficient in protecting the future of Nevada’s most visited range. There are 14 sensitive species in the Rubies, 6 of which have reached a global rating of G5. Shielding the landscape from development will shield these species from extinction. A wilderness recommendation for the Pearl Peak Inventoried Roadless Area will ensure that the entire Ruby Mountains remain a legacy in Nevada, not simply the northern half. And the creatures, plants, and human visitors will enjoy the range forever.
Wildlife and Ecology
Pearl Peak shares many of the same wildlife resources with the Ruby Mountains Wilderness to the north, including: American pika, yellow-bellied marmot, mule deer, Rocky Mountain bighorn, mountain goat, Lahontan cutthroat trout, Black Rosy Finch, Brewer’s Sparrow, Lewis’ Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, Greater Sage-Grouse, Blue Grouse, Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Prairie Falcon. Pearl Peak hosts additional wildlife species such as Blue Grouse, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Flammulated Owl, Pine Siskin, Clark’s Nutcracker, Western Tanager, Cedar Waxwing, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Rock Squirrel, and Steller’s Jay. The limestone geology in this area is host to 400 million-year-old fossils and solution caves that support bat populations including long-legged myotis, long-eared myotis, and California myotis. This area supports the largest contiguous high elevation block of bristlecone pine / limber pine / white bark pine / curlleaf mountain mahogany / dwarf juniper subalpine coniferous forest wilderness in the Great Basin.
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