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Silver Peak
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve
Silver Peak
Silver Peak
Silver Peak and mine road scar (view W)

Overview

The Silver Peak use-trail, an old mining road, offers a path deep into the Mojave Wilderness Area within the Granite Mountains. The old road starts up the gently sloping Cottonwood Valley, then climbs the alluvial fan below Silver Peak at moderate grades. After working through a rocky and tree-filled canyon, the old road ascends very steeply to ridges above. At more gentle grades, the old road ends some 250 vertical-feet below the summit. Steep use-trails then lead to the 6,400-ft summit, from which views stretch beyond the horizon. Although the road was put in at great effort and expense, there is no evidence that a mine was ever opened.

Link to map or elevation profile.

Silver Peak
Route uses ridge above road scar (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is pretty safe. There are plenty of places to walk into a cactus or stumble off a steep hillside, but there are no unusual hazards. There is little shade along the route, so this hike is best done at cooler times of year.

This route runs into the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, a research area and outdoor classroom for the University of California. Please generally stay on trail and don't mess with flagging or other study plot markers.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this is a short hike, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials. This hike goes into the Mojave Wilderness Area, so pay particular attention to protecting the land.

Silver Peak
Silver Peak trailhead parking (view W)
Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Mojave National Preserve, about 1-3/4 hours south of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to the Mojave National Preserve Visitor Center in Kelso. In Kelso, drive south on Kelbaker Road for 12.4 miles to Silver Peak North Road, an unmarked dirt road on the right. Drive southwest on Silver Peak North Road 1.8 miles to the end. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Silver Peak
Silver Peak trailhead at edge of road (view W)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the old mining road descends at a moderate grade into the sandy wash below (Wpt. 02) and turns upstream to head west.

About 5 minutes out, the sandy wash seems to split 3 ways (Wpt. 02). The left fork is the actual wash, the center fork is an old road that runs directly to an old corral (visible in the distance), and the right fork is the old road, which continues and soon becomes more apparent.

The old road (Wpt. 04) passes north of the corral (Wpt. 05). For hikers interested in historic sites, consider using the cool of the morning to climb the peak, then visit the corral on the way down.

Silver Peak
Sandy wash (view W)

Cottonwood Valley is hot with little shade, but at least the soft sand underfoot ends not far beyond the corral. Running southwest, the old road forks (Wpt. 06), and the main road stays right. Shortly thereafter, the road encounters a gate without a fence (Wpt. 07); this probably marks entry into the UC Natural Area.

Continuing southwest, the old road reaches a juniper tree (Wpt. 08) that offers the first bit of shade in 1.5 miles. If the day is warm, hikers are well advised to take advantage of it.

Now running more to the west, the old road forks again (Wpt. 09). Here, the left fork runs out to Cottonwood Spring, while the route stays right. Shortly, the road arrives at a wide spot below large boulders (Wpt. 10). This was an old campsite area, and it seems to mark the end of the most-recent drivable road, as the road deteriorates considerably just beyond.

Silver Peak
Wash forks 3 ways; route stays right (view W)

The now narrower and rockier road begins to climb the alluvial fan as it runs up the canyon to the west. The canyon narrows and where the road was cut into the canyon walls, hikers can see evidence of timbers that formerly held up the edge of the road. The old road crosses the wash (Wpt. 11) to the southwest side and continues upstream.

Shortly, the old road crosses a side wash (Wpt. 12) at a point where the road is entirely washed away and the brush is quite thick. Although hard to see, the old road continues across the side-wash on the contour. Be sure to watch for snakes when you can see your feet.

The canyon bottom, now quite narrow, is choked with willow and oak trees, and at one point, hikers need to duck left and tunnel under the trees (which provide nice shade but no breeze).

Silver Peak
Historic corral (view S)

Emerging from under the trees, the old road cuts steeply out the north side of the canyon. The road forks (Wpt. 13), and again the route stays right. Now very steeply, the old road cuts up the hillside across east facing slopes. At what seems an impossible grade for a road, the route climbs onto a side-ridge (Wpt. 14), and indeed, the route seems to have short-cut what originally was two switchbacks in the road. Back to the "very steep" grade, the old road resumes cutting up and across the hillside to the northeast.

At a corner on the skyline, a tall single-leaf pinyon pine (Wpt. 15) offers not only shade, but a breeze and there are boulders to sit and rest upon.

Continuing, the road climbs up and across the hillside heading northeast, but now at a more moderate grade. The road wraps around the ridge and heads west on the north-facing slope where bits of shade can be found. The road climbs back onto the ridgeline at an old landing (Wpt. 16) where going up, the trail obviously stays right, but the wide spot with shrubs is a bit confusing on the way down (stay left).

Silver Peak

The old road runs west onto the south-facing side of the ridge, then climbs atop the ridge again and turns north to cut across steep slopes below the summit. The road runs onto another ridgeline and forks (Wpt. 17). As usual, the route stays right (the left ends shortly).

Now on the north side of the peak, the road runs west to a corner (Wpt. 18). In this area, look for high-elevation species such as Panamint Chipmunks and Pinyon Jays, species unusual in this part of the Mojave Desert.

At the corner, the road appears to climb steeply up a mine tailings pile, but the road curves hard left to make a switchback, and there is no evidence of anything other than road-building activities.

Silver Peak

The road curves back to the east then bends a bit south and abruptly ends. Again, there is nothing to suggest anything other than road building activity, but the road ends at a large, metallic looking boulder (Wpt. 19).

Use-trails cut very steeply up both sides of the boulder, but literally from the base of the boulder, the better route cuts up the right side of the boulder to a white rock outcrop and pinyon pine beyond. Ducking under the pine onto the ridge, a use-trail (lower) and cairn route (higher) climb to the summit. After climbing a 15-ft-high outcrop of black rock, it is only a few rocky yards across the summit ridge to the peak, which has a summit register.

Silver Peak

There seems to be some confusion about the height and location of this peak. Some maps and sources show the peak several hundred yards farther south on the ridge, and even give a higher elevation, but from the peaklet on the north end of the summit ridge (where the summit register is located), peaklets farther out look lower.

Regardless, the views can't get any better farther out the summit ridge, as there are vast, vast views from this high vantage point. Views to the north run to Kelso Dunes and mountains into the far distance, far beyond Interstate 15. Even the Kingston Range (67 miles) and Mt. Charleston (102 miles) are visible. To the east are the Providence Mts. and others far off into Arizona.

Silver Peak

To the south, Granite Mountain (1-2 miles) blocks most of the view, but over the ridge to the southeast, mountains stretch off into the haze, including the Clipper Mountains (17 miles), Van Winkle Mountains (6 miles), and Middle Hills (10 miles), Old Woman Mountains (33 miles), and possibly even the Big Maria Mountains (87 miles). To the east, Granite Mountain blocks much of the view, but over the ridge perhaps San Gorgonio (81 miles), the Transverse Ridges, and other mountains stretch off into the distance.

Return to the trailhead by following the route back down. Consider detours to Cottonwood Spring and the old corral, and pay attention to left turns in the trail going down the steep hillsides.

Silver Peak
Old road fork; stay right (view W)
Silver Peak
Gate with no fence (view W)
Silver Peak
Old road runs west
Silver Peak
California Juniper provides shade at 1.5 miles out (view W)
Silver Peak
Boulders with old campsites (view W)
Silver Peak
Road becomes rough and rocky (view W)
Silver Peak Silver Peak
Silver Peak
Old road climbs towards canyon (view W)
Silver Peak
Old road in canyon (view W)
Silver Peak
Old road in canyon (view W)
Silver Peak
Route burrows under Canyon Live Oak and Narrowleaf Willow
Silver Peak
Old road cuts steeply out of the wash (view NW)
Silver Peak
Old road cuts steeply across the hillside (view N)
Silver Peak
Desert Live Forever under Desert Needlegrass
Silver Peak
Old road cuts steeply across the hillside (view N)
Silver Peak
Old road cuts steeply across the hillside (view N)
Silver Peak
A thoughtful Bobcat left some Tootsie Rolls on the trail
Silver Peak
Shady Single-leaf Pinyon Pine (view E)
Silver Peak
Delightful shade (view S)
Silver Peak
Near shade tree (view NW towards summit)
Silver Peak
Mormon Tea in full bloom (view NW)
Silver Peak Silver Peak
Silver Peak Silver Peak
Silver Peak
Road cuts across east-facing slope below summit
Silver Peak
Trail ornament: Beavertail Pricklypear
Silver Peak Silver Peak
Silver Peak
Road appears to fork; stay right (view W)
Silver Peak
Road cuts across north-facing slope below summit
Silver Peak
Panamint Chipmunk near the summit
Silver Peak
Road switchbacks across north-facing slope below summit (view E)
Silver Peak
Metallic boulder at end of road (view W)
Silver Peak
Steep, rocky ridge marked with cairns (view up, west)
Silver Peak
Mining claim marker and cigar tin near summit
Silver Peak
Miners put claim documents inside cigar tins (this tin was empty)
Silver Peak
Fewer rocks near the crest of the summit ridge (view W)
Silver Peak
Huge Utah Juniper: main trunk is 30-in DBH
Silver Peak
Colorful rock covering: epidote
Silver Peak
Colorful rock covering: orange lichens
Silver Peak
Long view northward
Silver Peak
Approaching buttress guarding summit ridge (view W)
Silver Peak
Rocky summit ridge, approaching summit (view SW)
Silver Peak
Rocky summit ridge, approaching summit (view SW)
Silver Peak
Summit with backpack (view W)
Silver Peak
Hard to see, but lots of small beetles on me (view N)
Silver Peak
Summit register in tin cans
Silver Peak
Summit register: can inside a can
Silver Peak
Summit register: plastic bag inside can
Silver Peak
Grand Vista (view north towards Mt. Charleston)
Silver Peak
Grand Vista (view north towards Kelso Dunes)
Silver Peak
Grand Vista (view SW to Mt. San Gorgonio beyond Granite Mtn)
Silver Peak
Grand Vista (view E to Panamint Range and mountains in Arizona)
Silver Peak
Grand Vista (view SE over Granite Mtn. Clipper Mountains)

Returning to the Trailhead

Silver Peak
Summit (view E towards trailhead; its a long ways off)
Silver Peak
Summit (view E towards trailhead)
Silver Peak
Summit (view E towards trailhead)
Silver Peak
Descending steep ridge above old road (view E)
Silver Peak
Descending steep ridge, dropping towards end of road
Silver Peak
Going down, the trail turns right over this ridgeline (view E)
Silver Peak
Dropping across south-facing slope (view E)
Silver Peak
At landing, trail angles off left side (view E)
Silver Peak
Steep road below shady pinyon pine (view SW)
Silver Peak
Steep road below shady pinyon pine (view SW)
Silver Peak
Old road cuts left before reaching trees
Silver Peak
Dropping into the shrub-choked canyon (view SE)
Silver Peak
Descending onto the alluvial fan (view E)
Silver Peak
Descending onto the desert flats (view E)
Silver Peak
Crossing sunny desert flats (view E)
Silver Peak
Developing fruit on Mojave Yucca
Silver Peak
Historic coral (view SE from old road)
Silver Peak
Historic ranch gate
Silver Peak
Historic water tank and watering trough
Silver Peak
Historic fencing or cattle chute
Silver Peak
Looking back after departing historic corral area (view W)
Silver Peak
Long, sandy wash (view E)
Silver Peak
Long, sandy wash (view E)
Silver Peak
Route departs sandy wash at old road scar (view E)
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
01 Trailhead 623717 3853706 4,085 0.00 0.00 GPS
01A Trailhead, Alternate 623754 3853761 4,026 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Road Enters Wash 623659 3853725 4,057 0.04 0.04 GPS
03 Wash Splits 623460 3853598 4,078 0.15 0.19 GPS
04 Spur Trail to Corral 623254 3853436 4,102 0.17 0.36 GPS
05 Corral 623289 3853392 4,071 . . GPS
06 Road Forks 622429 3852674 4,244 0.72 1.08 GPS
07 Gate Without Fence 622341 3852614 4,258 0.07 1.15 GPS
08 Shade 621811 3852370 4,337 0.39 1.54 GPS
09 Faint Road South 621710 3852372 4,353 0.06 1.60 GPS
10 Old Campsite 621577 3852367 4,366 0.08 1.68 GPS
11 Road Crosses Main Wash 620258 3852233 4,818 0.91 2.59 GPS
12 Road Crosses Side Wash 620196 3852207 4,869 0.05 2.64 GPS
13 Road Forks 620054 3852216 5,026 0.10 2.74 GPS
14 Road onto Side Ridge 619931 3852366 5,163 0.15 2.89 GPS
15 Tree and Shade 620062 3852579 5,401 0.24 3.13 GPS
16 Landing on Ridgeline 620057 3852717 5,619 0.19 3.32 GPS
17 Road Forks 619473 3853033 6,080 0.54 3.86 GPS
18 Road Switchbacks 619303 3852966 6,104 0.13 3.99 GPS
19 Road Ends 619407 3852933 6,170 0.09 4.08 GPS
20 Summit 619346 3852813 6,411 0.15 4.23 GPS
01 Trailhead 623717 3853706 4,085 4.23 8.46 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130627

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