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Billy Goat Peak
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Billy Goat Peak
Billy Goat Peak
Billy Goat Peak trailhead parking (view S)

Overview

Billy Goat Peak (5,701 ft) is a tough hike to a minor peak in the middle of some of the wildest country in southern Nevada. Why bother to go so far to climb a minor peak? Spectacular views. Enough said.

The route runs south through a 2005 burn area to contour around a forested knob (Pinyon-Juniper Woodland life zone) and drop into a saddle on the north side of Billy Goat Peak. From the saddle, the route climbs the north ridge until cliffs force the route onto brushy sideslopes before a climb onto the summit.

Don't let this short hike fool you; it is only 1.2 miles to the peak, but the last half-mile is tough.

Link to hiking map or elevation profile.

Billy Goat Peak

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a tough hike in a wild and remote place. The route is steep, rocky, brushy, and requires a bit of Class II or III scrambling depending on how you go, so be careful out in this remote area because even a twisted ankle could be a serious problem with help so far away. The access road is not maintained and has a rough patch in the middle; with a 2WD vehicle, consider parking near Arizona Road and walking.

This is a wild and remote area without services of any kind (no restrooms, no water, no gas, no food). Bring what you need to survive. Be prepared and be self-reliant. Someone will find you eventually if you stay on a main road, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or two. Cell phones only work along parts of the paved road.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a remote hike, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

billy goat hike
Route crosses first shoulder of knob (view S from the trailhead)

Getting to the Trailhead

Billy Goat Peak is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 2.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.

From town, drive out to Gold Butte National Monument. From the end of the pavement at Whitney Pocket, continue south 100 yards on the unpaved Gold Butte Road to Arizona Road on the left. Turn onto Arizona Road and drive east into the mountains.

Atop Whitney Pass, with grand views east out over northern Arizona, continue east 0.4 miles to Billy Goat Peak Road, on the right. Turn onto Billy Goat Peak Road and drive south 0.36 miles to the end of the road and the Billy Goat Peak trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

billy goat hike
Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)

Hiking Guide

From the parking (Table 1, Waypoint 00) or trailhead (Wpt. 01), the route follows a burned-off ridgeline southward with the goal of climbing onto the east shoulder of the knob that stands between the trailhead and the summit. This area is in the uppermost Mojave Desert Scrub Life Zone. Most of the shrubs and Buckhorn Cholla in this area burned in 2005, and it is still pretty barren, but the cholla still have sharp spines and some of the Cliffrose are growing back.

As the route climbs onto the first shoulder, it crosses out of the burn area and into a Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, evidenced by lots of Single-leaf Pinyon Pine and a few Utah Juniper. Most of the shrubs in this area are Blackbrush, but Cliffrose, Shrub Live Oak, Utah Agave, and Banana Yucca are common, and there is a fair bit of Buckhorn Cholla, Mojave Kingcup Cactus, Barrel Cactus, Grizzlybear Pricklypear Cactus, and even Pancake Pricklypear.

 Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)

From the first shoulder, the route contours south across the hillside to pass below and to the east of the knob. The route climbs onto a slightly higher second shoulder on the southeast ridge (Wpt. 02) of the knob. Bighorn Sheep trails make hiking through the brush and yucca in this area a bit easier. This second shoulder provides the first good view of the main saddle and the route to the summit.

From the second shoulder, the route contours around to the main ridgeline and follows it southward and down into the big saddle (Wpt. 03) between the knob and Billy Goat Peak, proper.

From the big saddle, the obvious route would be to continue southward on the main ridge (North Ridge of Billy Goat) to the summit cliffs, and then bypass the cliffs to the east. However, the ridgeline is soon blocked by rocky outcrops and brush, forcing hikers onto the steep, east facing slope. Trying to regain the ridge, and repeatedly being forced back onto the steep sideslopes becomes tiring and dangerous.

billy goat hike
The second shoulder and view of peak (view S)

Because this is a north-facing slope, the soil moisture is high and the brush is thick. Much of the brush is Shrub Live Oak, which has stiff branches and is tough to get through, but there is a fair bit of Desert Gooseberry (Ribes velutinum) with its nasty little spines. There is less cactus on this colder side of the mountain, but watch for Brake Ferns growing among the rocks.

From the saddle (Wpt. 03), it might be easier to traverse the slope to the southeast on Bighorn Sheep trails into the gully between the north and northeast ridges, and then either climb the gully directly or climb onto the northeast ridge, which has fewer rocky outcrops to avoid.

billy goat hike
North face of Billy Goat Peak (view S)

However one gets there, gaining the summit (Wpt. 04) of this seldom-visited peak rewards hikers with some of the most spectacular views in all of southern Nevada. To the north is Virgin Peak, to the east are the Grand Wash Cliffs in Arizona, to the south is Gold Butte, Lime Ridge, and surrounding peaks and ridges, and to the west are Lake Mead and mountain ranges extending as far as the Spring Mountains.

When ready, return to the trailhead by following your footprints back down the mountain, although it might be worth trying to find an easier way.

 Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)
Pink rock outcrop (view SE)
 Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)
Pink rock outcrop (view E from near main saddle)
Summit (view SE into Arizona)
High saddle (view SE to Grand Wash Cliffs in Arizona)
Billy Goat Peak
Hikers traversing ridgeline (view W)
billy goat hike
Hikers starting up the ridge from the big saddle (view S)
Summit (view SE into Arizona)
Hiker coming up snowy hillside (view E)
billy goat hike
Hiker on difficult terrain with snow (view NE)
 Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)
Hikers on steep terrain (view SW)
 Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)
Nearing the summit (view SE)
 Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)
Hikers scrambling among the cliffs (view W)
 Approaching the first shoulder (view SW)
Hikers on the summit (view NW)
billy goat peak
Hikers on the summit (view NW)
Billy Goat Peak
Summit (view SE into Arizona)
Billy Goat Peak
Summit (view N to Virgin Peak)
Billy Goat Peak
Summit (view W to Sheep Range)
Billy Goat Peak
Summit (view W)

The Descent

Billy Goat Peak
Hikers departing the summit
Billy Goat Peak
Pancake pricklypear near the summit
Billy Goat Peak
Descending steep, snowy slope
Summit (view SE into Arizona)
Ridge (view W towards Whitney Pocket)
Summit (view SE into Arizona)
Nearing the high saddle (view N)
Billy Goat Peak
Passing the pink rock outcrop (view E)
Billy Goat Peak
Descending forested slopes (view N)
billy goat hikeThe route ahead (view N towards the trailhead)
Billy Goat Peak
Hikers descending the lower ridge (view N)
Billy Goat Peak
Back into the burn zone (view N)

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
00 Parking 762776 4046079 4,805 . . GPS
01 Trailhead 762719 4046070 4,825 0.0 0.0 GPS
02 Second Shoulder 762779 4045347 5,202 0.5 0.5 GPS
03 Saddle 762737 4045093 5,115 0.2 0.7 GPS
04 Summit 762908 4044592 5,718 0.5 1.2 GPS
01 Trailhead 762719 4046070 4,825 1.2 2.4 GPS

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 151030

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