1000 Mile Nevada Thru Hike on the Basin and Range Trail

seekinglost

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
98
Howdy folks, I want to introduce you to a new 1090 mile thru hike route across central Nevada called the Basin and Range Trail. Nevada is the most mountainous state in the lower 48, with over 310 named mountain ranges. The BRT strings together some of the more spectacular ranges in the state, including some pretty obscure ones in-between. Why did I choose to do a long hike Nevada? Because the topography looks amazing and it gets close to zero visitation. It’s the perfect recipe for adventure, if you’re looking for that kind of thing.

BRTpixMAIN0001.jpg

Goshute Range

BRT-Sections-Overview-Map-v2-1.png


Where: Central Nevada

When: June 1st 2020 – August 6th 2020

Distance: 950 miles (1090 for the full route)

Conditions: Varied. June was mild, and sometimes downright cold. Two storms brought a dusting of snow to high elevations in June. After 4th of July, it was much warmer. Low to mid 90s daily from mid July on, and 100 degrees in early August.

Lighterpack: https://lighterpack.com/r/4aj6eq

Website: https://basinandrangetrail.com/ (I built a dedicated website for this trail and its planning resources)

Route Map: https://basinandrangetrail.com/the-trail/

Photo Album: https://basinandrangetrail.com/discover (organized by section, 1-10)

60-Minute Documentary Movie:

11+ Hour Vlog Series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8GyPZecZZYjl9ircZWaYGZwOaojotA-3

Overview: The route I planned to hike was close around 1100 miles. The route I actually ended up hiking was around 950 miles. I completed the hike in 67 days, but 17 were zero days. I filmed the hike and had to spend a lot of time in town dumping media from my cameras, charging electronics, replacing gear lost in bushwhacks etc. I’ve revised the route since returning home, and have laid out a 1090 mile route moving forward.

The route is broken up into 10 sections, and is best hiked clockwise. I started the hike in Ely and ended in Baker. You could hike a true loop if desired, but there isn’t much of a logistical advantage to that. Ending in Baker, you can bag Wheeler Peak (2nd tallest in Nevada at 13,063’) on your last or second to last day, which has great symbolic meaning for the end of a thru hike IMO. End on a high note, literally.

The route hits 22 mountain ranges (and the high point of 13 of these ranges), 11 wilderness areas, 5 wilderness study areas, and 1 National Park. It’s almost entirely on BLM and National Forest land, and there are no permits required… not even in Great Basin National Park, because the visitation is so low!

The good is that it’s very beautiful, and the variety of hidden gems never ceases to impress. I can’t think of anywhere else that compares in terms of remoteness and the overall feeling of desolation. It’s just so empty! There is practically no information out there on most of these mountain ranges, so it’s an adventure around every turn. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes, not so much. The bad is that the bushwhacking can be extremely bad at times. Like, the worst of your life, and plan to redefine that definition every couple of days. This route definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you are willing to put up with this level of suck, man does it pay off.

I started June 1st because of my personal schedule. Ideally, I think early to mid May would have been better, at least for last year. Most years, you can start on the early side (possibly mid April), but when looking at historical snow pack levels, about 30% of the years past, deep snowpack lingers in the Toiyabes, Rubies, Schell Creek and Snake Ranges into June or even July. .

Probably on the tip of everyone’s mind when you mention thru hiking Nevada is water. Honestly, it’s not that bad. The longest water carry for me was 25 miles or so, but could potentially be up to 38 miles depending on your route. Water can be found in most ranges in the major drainages, many times in the form of flowing creeks. Even in 2020, a very dry year in the driest state in the country, in the middle of a hot summer, water sources were almost never dry. In fact, only two of my planned water sources along the entire route were dry. Some of the ridgeline traverses can be challenging though, as these are typically dry. An earlier start would give you more access to snow melt on these otherwise dry ridgelines. Also helpful are guzzlers. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are rain collection structures that hold water for wildlife. And you’re an animal too, right? Some of these guzzlers provide that critical water source along otherwise dry stretches. Water quality is pretty good overall. There is a lot of cow and sheep grazing in certain areas, but rarely was the water fouled to the point I wouldn’t drink it.

Why the name Basin and Range Trail? Yes, this area is more commonly known as the Great Basin. But most of Nevada also sits within the northern Basin and Range Province, which is a term used to describe the unique topography here… a parallel series of tall, narrow faulted mountain ranges separated by vast flat, arid valleys, or basins. This topography can easily be observed from any satellite or terrain map, and is highly representative of the hiker’s view along the entire route. And so, the name Basin and Range Trail was chosen, for the stunning topography of central Nevada.

There are few hiking trails here, so it’s mostly cross country hiking and old 4x4 roads. There's some pretty intense bushwhacking, but you’ll have the chance to walk places that few ever bother to visit. The goal is typically to walk the crest of a mountain range, if possible. This is easier on the north-south running sections, the direction the mountains run. The east-west sections are up-and-overs, but can incorporate some length of ridgewalking too. Some of the lower ranges are thick and wooded on the crest, which is extremely challenging to work through.

Usually, crossing the basins (valleys) is a 10-20 mile hike, with water on both sides along the base of the mountains or up a drainage. So this is quite manageable. The longest desert section is about 65 miles along the southern portion of the route, in between the Grant Range and the Hot Creek Range. Technically, the Pancake Range (and the awesome Lunar Crater volcanic field) is in-between, but this is a low, dry volcanic range, and more desert than mountains.

Resupply was initially a challenge to plan for. Half of the towns are walk in, half are hitches. You will need to send a food box to 3 of the towns. It’s incredible how remote and isolated some of these small towns are, and how little they have to offer. It’s not uncommon for locals in multiple towns along the BRT to drive 4 hours each way to Vegas for groceries. THAT is remote!

I could go on about how great Nevada is, but I'll stop here. Feel free to ask any questions if you're interested in learning more about the route.

BRTpix0004.jpg

Goshute Range

BRTpix0010.jpg

Snake Range ridgewalk, Great Basin National Park

BRTpix0009.jpg

Hot Creek Spring

BRTpix0008.jpg

Lunar Crater - nearly 4000ft across and 430ft deep

BRTpix0007.jpg

Cowboy camping with Hot Creek Range/Morey Peak backdrop

BRTpix0003.jpg

Descending Pearl Peak in Ruby Mountains

BRTpix0002.jpg

Hendry's Creek, Mt. Moriah Wilderness, Snake Range

BRTpix0005.jpg

Crest of the Monitor Range, Table Mountain Wilderness

BRTpix0006.jpg

Morey Peak, Hot Creek Range

BRTpix0001.jpg

Snake Valley

BRTpix0011.jpg

Johnson Lake, Great Basin National Park
 

Attachments

  • BRTpix0004.jpg
    BRTpix0004.jpg
    374.8 KB · Views: 20
Last edited:

scatman

Member
.
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
2,047
Spectacular trip @seekinglost! I'm at a loss for words. Congratulations on exploring such a remote area. So on your 25 mile stretch with no water sources, how much water did you carry and how hot did it get on that stretch, and how hot on average was it when you crossed the basins? Could you tell a big difference in the temperatures between the valley floor and the ridgelines?
 

priz1234

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2020
Messages
105
Such an awesome trip. Been wanting to get out to quite a few of those ranges you passed through for awhile. Your first video was great and made me want to get out to those areas even more. Glad to see that you are releasing more detailed videos of the sections.
 

seekinglost

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
98
Spectacular trip @seekinglost! I'm at a loss for words. Congratulations on exploring such a remote area. So on your 25 mile stretch with no water sources, how much water did you carry and how hot did it get on that stretch, and how hot on average was it when you crossed the basins? Could you tell a big difference in the temperatures between the valley floor and the ridgelines?
For the 25 mile carry, I was planning to do the 38 mile route and took 8 liters with me. Then I ended up doing the 25 mile route and carried the extra water for nothing! Ha. That stretch, Railroad Valley and the Lunar Crater volcanic field, was not that hot. Maybe in the low 80s, and one of those days, like 40+ mph winds. Last few days of June saw a snow dusting in the Toiyabes south of Austin. Temperatures in the basins moved from 70-80 in June to upper 90s/low100s in early August. June was pretty comfortable. When the temps were above the low 90s every day is when it started getting hot for me, around mid July. The tallest ranges, like the Snake, there is a massive difference in temps. The climb up to Wheeler Peak in Great Basin NP went from 5200' (102 degrees down there) to over 13,000'... THAT was a temperature difference! But mostly, these ranges have 4000-5000' prominence over the valley floor, and you DO feel it dropping down out of the mountains. As always, it's best to climb high and stay high, where possible!
 

seekinglost

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
98
Such an awesome trip. Been wanting to get out to quite a few of those ranges you passed through for awhile. Your first video was great and made me want to get out to those areas even more. Glad to see that you are releasing more detailed videos of the sections.
Nevada fascinated me for quite some time before this trip. I had a bunch of ranges on my list too, and I thought, I should just string as many as I can together into one big hike. The Jarbidge is the one I really wanted to include, but just too far from the rest of the route with long stretches of less interesting terrain in between.
 

Laura V.

I'm not lost. I'm on an adventure.
.
Joined
Feb 15, 2021
Messages
48
Wow. What a spectacular hike! Thank you for sharing. I have wanted to do something similar for a long time, but I need to make enough time to plan it and make it happen. Thanks for the inspiration!!
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
.
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
2,605
Fun route! Looks extremely similar to Dirtmonger's Great Basin Trail route. Was there any collaboration there?
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,934
Nice trip , long dry trip.....
How about putting names to your pics....
 

seekinglost

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
98
Fun route! Looks extremely similar to Dirtmonger's Great Basin Trail route. Was there any collaboration there?
Nope, no collaboration. I had no idea someone else what out there doing something similar until a friend sent me a link to his IG post when he finished his hike... I was halfway into my route at the time. Pretty crazy to have two routes so similar (but actually quite different upon closer inspection) be developed and hiked independently, so close together.

How about you, another long trail/route in the works for next year?
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
.
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
2,605
Nope, no collaboration. I had no idea someone else what out there doing something similar until a friend sent me a link to his IG post when he finished his hike... I was halfway into my route at the time. Pretty crazy to have two routes so similar (but actually quite different upon closer inspection) be developed and hiked independently, so close together.

How about you, another long trail/route in the works for next year?
Yeah, Dirt's been kicking around the Great Basin for years now. I wasn't at all surprised to see him take a second go at what eventually turned into the GBT. Hopefully you guys can collaborate rather than compete. I think the hiking community will be the better for it :) What a wonderful, empty, beautiful, majestic corner of the world.

No long-distance for me for a while. I'm working back from injury. Loooong rehab!
 

seekinglost

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2015
Messages
98
Yeah, Dirt's been kicking around the Great Basin for years now. I wasn't at all surprised to see him take a second go at what eventually turned into the GBT. Hopefully you guys can collaborate rather than compete. I think the hiking community will be the better for it :) What a wonderful, empty, beautiful, majestic corner of the world.

No long-distance for me for a while. I'm working back from injury. Loooong rehab!
I'm certainly not opposed to collaboration. With the handful of water source reports for the region, just one more hiker adding to the pot would make a big difference out there. I think it's a pretty awesome place to wander, but I question the demand for these kind of hikes, though. Bushwhacking obscure places seems to be lower on most folks' bucket lists, haha.

I know you are coming back from an injury, I saw you had gone on a couple of small hikes recently and thought you might be planning something as a goal for next year, maybe. I think I would be dreaming quite a bit about the next adventure, to motivate me to do all the rehab stuff and have something to look forward to. Bummer the rehab is taking so long for ya, hope you are back at it soon.
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
.
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
2,605
I'm certainly not opposed to collaboration. With the handful of water source reports for the region, just one more hiker adding to the pot would make a big difference out there. I think it's a pretty awesome place to wander, but I question the demand for these kind of hikes, though. Bushwhacking obscure places seems to be lower on most folks' bucket lists, haha.

I know you are coming back from an injury, I saw you had gone on a couple of small hikes recently and thought you might be planning something as a goal for next year, maybe. I think I would be dreaming quite a bit about the next adventure, to motivate me to do all the rehab stuff and have something to look forward to. Bummer the rehab is taking so long for ya, hope you are back at it soon.
Nothing concrete planned... TBD based on how complete/incomplete the recovery is. Off-trail routes with tough footing (like something in the Great Basin) are probably out of the question for the next little while. May have to stick to trails more than before.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Nick 1000 Cuts General Discussion 3
IlVagabondo Looking for a ~30 mile loop in the Scapegoat/Bob Trip Planning 2
P 9 Mile Trail, Yellowstone Backpacking 3
tropicalwanderer YNP : 8/31-9/7 : Heart Lake to Nine Mile via CDT, South Boundary and Thorofare Trip Planning 9
Stephanie B Behind the Rocks, Ken's Lake Faux Falls, U-Turn Canyon, Seven Mile Canyon, and Dark Angel Hiking & Camping 4
smscheick Packrafting Willow/Davis/50 mile Backpacking 22
fossana Superstitions 8-25 mile hike suggestions Trip Planning 19
DrNed Recommendation for 35-45 Mile Route in the Uintas Trip Planning 7
Born to Hike Windriver 36 mile loop: Skull Lake, Washakie Pass, South Fork Lakes, Lizard Head Trail, The Cirque, Big Sandy Lake Backpacking 6
Tanasi 50 mile trip suggestions for 1st week of August? Trip Planning 19
seekinglost Pinto Valley Wilderness, NV - 3 Day 25 Mile Loop Hike March 2017 Backpacking 6
Outdoor_Fool Yellowstone - 9 Mile Post to South Entrance Backpacking 1
tomcat32 Late May suggestions for 100ish mile backpacking trip Trip Planning 1
V 50+ mile backpacking loop in Escalante? Trip Planning 5
piper01 Packrafting Escalante, Part 3: Fifty Mile Canyon Backpacking 4
Brian Skibbe 200 mile Yellowstone loop in June. Route advice needed. Trip Planning 15
Dustin Gent fifty mile canyon Trip Planning 6
piper01 Packrafting Escalante, Part 2: Davis to Fifty Mile Backpacking 12
Udink Nine Mile Canyon XIV: Warrior Ridge Hiking & Camping 4
Udink Nine Mile Canyon XI Hiking & Camping 0
Nick The Emerald Mile General Discussion 50
Scott Chandler A Square 1/2 mile in the Red Cliffs Hiking & Camping 5
klank Documentary: Mile.. Mile & Half Photography 2
Udink Nine Mile Canyon VII: Awesome! Hiking & Camping 5
Udink Nine Mile Canyon VI: Big, Big Sheep Hiking & Camping 0
IntrepidXJ Nine Mile Canyon Tour Hiking & Camping 4
Udink Nine Mile Canyon V Hiking & Camping 5
Udink Nine Mile Canyon IV Hiking & Camping 2
mtthwlw 25 mile backpacking trip ideas needed Trip Planning 8
Ben Sawtooths, 68 mile loop, August Backpacking 32
BrendanLB Coyote gulch via 40 mile ridge road Trip Planning 17
John Fowler Entering Forty Mile Gulch General Discussion 7
Udink Nine Mile the Third Hiking & Camping 8
Scott Chandler Egypt TH south to 25 Mile? Trip Planning 10
Udink Nine Mile Canyon, Round Two Hiking & Camping 2
Udink Nine Mile Canyon Hiking & Camping 6
steve Mile Mile and a Half General Discussion 31
IntrepidXJ Fall in Nine Mile Canyon Hiking & Camping 3
Blake Merrell HELP! Need ideas for 50 mile routes in the Uintas Trip Planning 14
Nick Forty Mile & Willow Gulch Backpacking 6
Antlerking Nine Mile Photography 2
Duke Five Mile Gulch Canyoneering 2
napatony13 SUCCESSFUL SLEUTHING-Nevada Rock Art Off Road 3
Reef&Ruins Nevada Mining Ruins/Ghost Towns Trip Planning 6
balzaccom Ruby Mountains, Nevada Hiking & Camping 2
Stephanie B Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada, February 11 - 15, 2020 Hiking & Camping 3
balzaccom Sierra (Nevada) Stories General Discussion 0
dug Bikepacking in Nevada. Not what you think? Everything Else 16
wsp_scott A week in the Sierra Nevada Backpacking 23
mikejones3 Northfork to Second Lake Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains Backpacking 5

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top