pahute peak

Pahute Peak


Climb to the top of 8,594-foot Pahute Peak – also known as Big Mountain – and experience being at the center of the world. From there, you can see all of the other nine Wilderness Areas, 1.2 million acres of land as beautiful, rugged, and wild as the herds of horses that gallop across it.

Wilderness Reference Map

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About Pahute Peak Wilderness

The 56,890-acre Pahute Peak Wilderness area is nestled within the arms of the Black Rock Desert in the heart of the Black Rock Mountain Range. Elevations range from 4,050 feet to 8,594 feet on the top of Pahute Peak, also known as Big Mountain on USGS maps.

Besides the sheer wonder of looking out across the entire NCA and Wilderness complex from the peak, you’ll also get a sense of just how extraordinary the settlers who travelled through this vast region along the Applegate-Lassen Historical Trail were.

This Wilderness offers many opportunities to quietly contemplate Nature’s beauty. If you’re looking for a memorable hike or backpacking adventure, head to the higher-elevation ridge near Pahute Peak, which has aspen, mountain mahogany, and white bark pine stands and magnificent scenery.

The peak itself drops off quickly to the south, but the west side of the range is a jumble of interesting and colorful badlands-like rock formations, including one named “Fremont’s Castle” after the early explorer John Fremont. Here you’ll find several excellent staging spots for exploration of this wilderness area, especially if you’re a hunter, hiker or rockhound.

A portion of the Desert Trail – not a developed trail but a point-to-point route – traverses this Wilderness. Hunting for deer, antelope, bighorn, and chukar is popular in the area. Head for the rugged dirt roads that form the Wilderness boundaries if you’re looking to do some four-wheel driving or mountain biking.

Pahute Peak Wildlife

  • Rough-legged Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Wyoming Sagebrush
  • Sage Sparrow
  • Brewer’s Blackbird
  • California Bighorn Sheep
  • Mountain Lion
  • Mule Deer
  • Pronghorn Antelope
  • Chukar
  • Sage Grouse
  • Wild Horse

How to Get to Pahute Peak Wilderness

Pahute Peak Wilderness is located in western Humboldt County about 40 miles northeast of the town of Gerlach.

The easiest way to access this area is to take Soldier Meadows Road, Humboldt County Road 200, north from Gerlach about 50 miles to Mud Meadows Reservoir, cross the dam and turn right onto a 2 track road heading back south to the wilderness boundary.  (high clearance 4-wheel drive recommended)