Boundary Peak has the highest elevation of any mountain in Nevada at 13,140 feet, making the trail most popular among peak baggers.
My fellow backcountry babe and I hiked the Boundary Peak trail via the Queen Mine route on June 25, 2016. This happened to be a light snow year, so we had no worries of snow-packed trails.
Getting to the Trailhead
We turned off US-6 and headed for the hills in a Toyota Tacoma around 3:00 pm the day before we planned to hike. At the time, we weren’t positive where we were going to spend the night, but we kept winding our way up on the old mining roads. Eventually we came to a nice, flat spot where a fellow hiker’s Subaru was parked–the Queen Mine. The site had an abandoned mine shaft and magnificent views of the valley below. The next day, we realized we could have driven even further to the very head of the trail. But, of course, we never make it easy for ourselves. Plus, the trailhead is at a saddle, so it’s quite exposed. I was later glad that we spent the night where we did.
View from our campsite at the Queen Mine (about 1.5 miles from the trailhead).
Starting to Hike
Wanting to reach the peak and come back well before sunset, we headed out early the next morning. Winding further up the mining roads, we quickly arrived at the trailhead where we were greeted with the Boundary Peak Wilderness Register.
Not being able to see Boundary Peak or any close, tall mountains makes the beginning of the trek feel unassuming and easy. After just a quick jaunt (aka, about a mile or so), the peak was in view! …And it was obvious that we had a ways to go.
View of Boundary Peak about 1 mile into the hike. (Check out Birdy in the foreground.)
As the photo above shows, the first 3 miles or so of the hike are rather flat and easy. We used this time to warm up our legs, take pee breaks and eat snacks.
The flat(ish) section goes quick, which is too bad because the second half of the hike is the tough part. First we had to ascend “scree mountain,” which is (as you can imagine) worse on the way down than on the way up. (See photo to the right.) The tiny, loose rocks that make up this mountain combined with a lack of shade make it a good reminder to try to tackle this earlier in the morning rather than at mid-day.
On the Saturday we climbed Boundary Peak, there was only one other group on the trail. It was a group of 3 men, one of who had summited Boundary Peak at least a dozen times before. Another of the men who was in his group was blind. It was his goal to summit the peak as well. While his group was moving a little slower paced than our gang of babes, it was astounding to see how he navigated the tough terrain. He moved slowly, carefully and just one small step at a time. The third man, acting as his eyes, guided him through the loose scree and helped him stay on the trail. And when I say “trail,” I use that term lightly. The trail seemed to shift as sluffs of scree slid down the mountain, covering parts where the “trail” once was.
This section actually might be easier with some snow on the ground if you had some crampons in your pack.
Once we made it up the slog of scree mountain, we rested for bit before continuing. The trail continues on the ridge of the mountain. The image below shows the view from the boulder section of the trail. This is closer to the summit looking back from where we had just come.
The ridge trail is well-worn until you encounter the boulder section. I read several reports on how to hike this section, but in the end, I just navigated it how I thought easiest on that day. Having hiking poles, again, came in handy here. Luckily, this part of the hike is the last tough part before we got to Boundary Peak, and we could see the peak in the distance, making it handy that we could visually push towards our goal.
View from the boulder section of the hike back on the ridge, above the scree climb.
On the Summit
The summit of Boundary Peak has stellar views. On the day we reached the top, it was warm with clear skies. We ate snacks and snapped lots of photos for about 30 minutes before heading back down. As (almost) always, heading down was much faster than heading up. The toughest part was actually the hike from the register box at the trailhead down to our car at Queen Mine. The afternoon heat was starting to get to us. We made it to the car in the early afternoon.
Panorama view from the summit of Boundary Peak.
Calipidder’s account of her trek from the Queen Mine. (She’s got a great shot of the actual mine area.)
- Sturdy hiking shoes
- Hiking poles
- Clothing layers
- (Note: No permit is required to hike this peak.)