Hiking and Backpacking in Nevada

Hiking & Backpacking

With more than 300 named mountain ranges, millions of acres of rugged, untamed wilderness, and thousands of miles of trails, it’s safe to say the Silver State offers hikers and backpackers a lifetime of exploration. From celebrated Nevada state parks and national park wonders to crowd-free conservation areas and the 36-mile long, peak-hopping Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail, learn where to get some Nevada dirt on those boots.

Highlights

  • Hiking in Reno and Backpacking the Tahoe Rim Trail
  • Quick Hiking Trips from the Strip
  • The Ruby Crest Trail and Jarbidge Wilderness Area
Hiking & Backpacking Faves

From easy ambles to alpine scrambles, all alluring to casual out-and-back day trippers and hardcore, toothbrush-chopping wilderness thru-hikers alike, Nevada is a hiker’s paradise.

Hiking in Reno & Backpacking Lake Tahoe: Northern Nevada

Season

All Seasons

Region

State of Nevada

Looking to get after some hiking in Reno? While the Biggest Little City is surrounded by amazing hikes, some great places to start are local faves like the Hunter Creek Trail and Galena Creek Trail. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, head for the Mount Rose Wilderness Area, located between Reno and North Lake Tahoe.

Named after the Carson Range’s highest peak, the Mount Rose Wilderness Area frames Lake Tahoe’s northeast rim. The 10,766-foot Mount Rose summit peaks every Tahoe hiker’s interest, thanks to en-route waterfalls, blazing midsummer wildflowers, and views of Lake Tahoe and Nevada’s sweeping desertscapes. You could spend up to two weeks backpacking Lake Tahoe Rim Trail’s 165-mile, lake-studded, peak-bagging alpine circuit, or simply enjoy a morning meadow stroll on any stretch of this iconic Sierra Nevada trail, where dozens of spur trails lead to mind-bending views surrounding Lake Tahoe—the largest and clearest alpine lake in the U.S.

Tahoe Rim Trail, Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Rim Trail, Lake Tahoe

Beckoning hikers across the border, just beyond South Lake Tahoe, are Mt. Tallac, Jobs Peak, and Freel Peak (three of Lake Tahoe’s tallest and most famous mountains), along with the jagged summits and countless backcountry lakes of the heavenly Desolation Wilderness—home to a fabled stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, every thru-hiker’s fantasy.

Mount Rose Summit

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Ready for some wilderness where you can count on having the trail to yourself? Head for the Toiyabe Crest Trail—75 miles of trail, mostly above the timberline, traversing the towering Toiyabe Range, with 100-mile views and access to 11,477’ Bunker Hill, and 11,781’ Arc Dome.
Death Valley National Park, Hiking Death Valley, Death Valley Hiking
Death Valley National Park

Hiking Near Las Vegas: Southern Nevada Tips, Tricks & Trails

There is no shortage of hiking near Las Vegas, either. Just 45 minutes northwest of Vegas, Charleston Peak rises from the Spring Mountains Wilderness Area, scraping the Mojave Desert skies at nearly 12,000 feet, with mountainsides cloaked in one of the largest groves of ancient bristlecone pines in the West. The full round-trip trek to the top of southern Nevada’s most prominent peak is not for the faint of feet, but intrepid hikers are rewarded with big-sky views stretching into California and Arizona, along with vistas down to vibrant rock formations at Red Rock Canyon and the glimmering Las Vegas Strip.

Beyond hiking in Vegas, other gotta-experience-it trails await at Valley of Fire, barely an hour from Downtown. Beeline it for the White Domes Trail, Rainbow Vista, Petroglyph Canyon Trail to Mouse’s Tank, and Balancing Rock to get a full spectrum of the spectacular vibrancy found within Nevada’s first state park. Planning to visit Las Vegas during our hotter months? Escape the southern Nevada heat by navigating Cathedral Gorge’s otherworldly slot canyons—which always run a good 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding landscape.

Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

Nevada Backpacking & Hiking in the Places in Between

One of America’s most underrated national parks, Great Basin National Park offers gobsmacking views from its pleasantly uncrowded hiking trails. The 4.3-mile Bristlecone-Glacier Trail ascends past the gnarled bristlecone pines to a stark, rock-rimmed cirque cradling Nevada’s last active glacier. The Wheeler Peak Trail climbs to 13,064 feet and a vista stretching into Utah. For a gentler stroll, take the 2.7-mile Alpine Lakes Loop, which serves stunning vistas of ruggedly beautiful alpine lakes set against some of Nevada’s tallest peaks.

The Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail (RCT) follows the spine of one of Nevada’s most pristine, barely-touched locales: Elko County’s Ruby Mountains. Its sole paved access point—the drastic and picturesque Lamoille Canyon Road—sees its fair share of day-trippers and overnight visitors. But rugged terrain and lingering snow (many high lakes and the pass above Overland Lake remain frozen well into June or July) keep the furthest reaches of the range reserved for the hardy few who venture out on foot or horseback. Beginning at Harrison Pass, the RCT is often navigated from south to north, winding through 36 miles of alpine lakes, lush mountain meadows, and pristine wilderness.

Ready for the triple triple crown of northeastern Nevada adventure? Hike into the Jarbidge Wilderness Area, not only for some of the best hiking in Nevada, but also incredible fishing and stargazing, too. Just shy of the Idaho border, plan for 10,000-foot-peaks dressed in wildflowers and glacier-carved river canyons. More than 126 miles of hiking trails. Big-game hunting. Native trout-packed streams. Basque sheepherder-etched aspen arborglyphs. Cinematic campfire scenes. And even a dose of Wild West history at the site of the last stagecoach robbery in the American West. Sold? Yeah, we are too.

Get Some Dirt on Those Boots

Tapping into outdoor adventure in Nevada is true guilty pleasure. With all our crowdless surprises, it feels like you’re getting away with something you shouldn’t. Whether you’re summiting one of our 300+ mountain ranges or navigating a people-free trail through an ancient bristlecone pine forest, Nevada hiking beckons your boots. All you gotta do is get out here, go for it, and never look back.

#NVAdventure

Wanna let more Nevada-lovers hike vicariously through you? Use #TravelNevada and share your fave Nevada trails. If we love your photo, look for it here!

A picture is worth 1000 words sometimes. #homemeansnevada #tahoe #trails #takeahike #mtrose #topoathletic #inpursuitofawe #optoutside
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How do you like your canyons? Scrambled.
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Wildflower hunting today with peshetti14 

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Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic, beautiful parts of life, and the universe will keep giving them to you ✨🖤
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#thesimplelife #sunshinetherapy #thehillsarealive #spring2020 #livethelifeyoulove  #positivevibesonly #travelnevada #rubymountains #soloadventures
Mount Charleston - Mt Charleston South loop
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So proud of my kids & Charlie (the doggy)!! We hiked to Raintree today and they did great! It’s tough for littles, especially my youngest, but they endured. My oldest wants to bag a peak next and they were asking about overnight backpacking trips too! I see more fun hikes in the future for them!
#FunFactFriday: Did you know that ponderosa pines are known to smell like vanilla and butterscotch? Scientists believe that this sweet scent comes from a chemical in the sap, that when heated by the sun releases the aroma. Next time you find yourself hiking through these towering trees, try it out for yourself! Follow your nose to find a #ponderosa, or look for the trees with the thick reddish bark and long pine needles. A tree that has been exposed to the sun will have the strongest scent.

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Galena Falls was filled with beautiful views throughout the trail. The hike was pretty easy and after 2.5 miles you'll reach the base of the waterfall with other trail options. I choose to hike to the top of the waterfall. I will be back to explore another trail.
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#galenafalls #tahoerimtrail #mtrosesummit #mtrosewilderness #mtrose #exploretahoe #explorenevada #hiketahoe #tahoehikes #hikenevada #waterfalltrail #inclinevillage #renonevada #laketahoe #tahoe #reno #thesummit #alltrails #trekking #bikinibabe #mountainhiker
Highly recommend visiting an Alpine Lake. Stella Lake in Great Basin National Park was beautiful! 🏞️
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📷: sarahephotographyllc 
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