The “Best Route” for Boundary Peak, Nevada!
Boundary Peak of Nevada is located in the White Mountains, approximately 50 miles north of Bishop, California. The peak was originally thought to be inside the state of California until the Von Schmidt Survey of *****. At that time it was determined the Western “angle” boundary of Nevada was actually 3 miles further West. Thus the summit was placed officially inside Nevada and gained distinction as being the Silver state’s highest peak.
Somehow we have allowed ourselves to accept a difficult approach route from the East to Boundary Peak. This Eastern approach route is an unclear and confusing jeep road that leads to the trailhead. This route, due to numerous forks, not being maintained and few signs, becomes time consuming in traveling to the trailhead. Using this route detracts from smoothly initiating a trek to the summit. We are going the wrong way!
For clarity in this discussion, one can be aided by using California and Nevada State maps and specifically the U.S.G.S. 15 minute topographical map: “Benton-Nevada-California” (my map is dated 1962). Approaching from California, the drive to Boundary Peak can be done East on Route 120 from Highway 395 (Yosemite Area) or North on Route 6 from Highway 395 out of Bishop, California. To arrive from Nevada, one can approach this new trail by traveling West on Route 6 from either Tonopah, Nevada or from Nevada State Route 95. At any rate, you should arrive in the Queen Valley of Nevada. At the abandoned buildings on the North side of the highway (“JR”; Janie’s Brothel Ranch), drive “South” and/or “East” on the Queen Canyon dirt road for a distance of 6.9 miles, parking at or near the 9500-foot saddle below Kennedy Point. This is the key to the puzzle, allowing the hiker under “ideal conditions” to complete a round-trip day hike in six hours or less! NOTE: there is no water available on this route and the Forest Service cautions that rattlesnakes are present in Queen Canyon.
The specifics of this route are best revealed through automobile odometer navigation. To arrive in Benton, California from:
*Highway 395; from Lee Vining, CA; travel East on Route 120, =46 miles=
*Highway 395; from Bishop, CA; travel Northeast on Route 6, =44 miles=
*Queen Canyon is then 8.8 miles Northeast from Benton, CA on Route 6; placing the Queen Canyon road only 2.5 miles East of the Nevada State line.
A word of caution here; in late fall or winter if you are using a rental car or an automobile one should not proceed down Queen canyon further than 4.4 miles. There one will find a nice level area for a low base camp. If you have a 4x4 vehicle, you can proceed up the dirt road approximately one mile further to a major mine (It is believed to be the “Queen Mine”) that is camped at regularly. In summer and with a 4x4 vehicle you can struggle up the remaining 1.5 miles of JEEP road to the 9,500-foot saddle below Kennedy Point. This is a total of 6.9 miles from pavement. No matter the season, do not attempt this last 1.5 miles in anything other than a 4x4 vehicle, as the final turn that leads up to the saddle is sharp and steep and backing down is not an option. Trust me, I was hard pressed to negotiate this turn in a Ford Explorer 4x4 on my August 1999 climb.
From this 9,500’ saddle, start your climb by walking up the parallel tire tracks that go South up into the bulldozed mines. As you step into the mine, you will see a large cairn (G.P.S. Coordinates: 37’ 53’ 07” N. and 118’ 18’ 48” W.). This marks the trailhead. Additional small cairns mark the trail into 10,500-foot Trail Saddle, but you will still need to keep a sharp eye out for the well tread upon path that proceeds up the first two camelbacks and then Southwesterly behind the higher camelbacks. At Trail Saddle, (G.P.S. Coordinates: 37’ 53’ 58/05” N. and 118’ 18’ 55/50” W.) you will be directly below the steep buttress that leads to the summit. Select and remain on any footpath here, as long as you are going “up” you are on track.
For those who are climbing Mt. Whitney from Lone Pine, CA the drive to this route for Boundary Peak is only 100 miles.
Some points of interest on this highpoint are:
• A state sign, posted at a roadside rest stop, proclaims “Boundry (sic) Peak 13,143 feet”, this is 1.3 miles East of Queen Canyon Road on Route 6. This is a great photo op! I have not found any post cards of this peak.
• While climbing, keep your eyes peeled for wild mustangs and mountain sheep. I have been blessed with sightings of both!
• A commercial hot springs (with camping and a bed and breakfast) is available 3.6 miles West of Benton, CA on Route 120. I have not soaked there myself but it does look inviting and it comes recommended! Contact the Bill & Diane Bramlette at (760) 933-2507 or www.395/oldhouse.com.
• Mono Lake Committee, in Lee Vining, CA has a canoe tour of the lake that is outstanding. It is $17.00, (reservations required!!) and worth every penny for the experience. Mono Lake can be seen from Boundary’s summit. Contact them at (760) 647-6595 or www.monolake.org.
• Finally, an entire day spent at California’s Bodie State Park is well worth the time. The park is an 1870’s Mining Ghost Town that is a special treat for Wild West fans and geology students alike. Taking the Standard Mill tour within the park is an outstanding experience! The park is located East off of Highway 395, midway between Lee Vining and Bridgeport. Contact them at (760) 647-6445 or [email protected]