Gass Peak
Back in Las Vegas, Nevada for the second time this year, Kelly Bou and I started our trip off with an ascent of Gass Peak on 14 December 2011.  Despite its close proximity to the north end of the city, Gass Peak is a tricky peak to access.  According to, southern approaches to Gass Peak are generally restricted due to the need to cross private land (not to mention a nearby shooting range!), and at least one reported route up the south side entails technical climbing.  Kelly and I chose to ascend the normal non-technical route on the north side of the peak as described in, but this requires a somewhat long and bumpy drive along dirt roads to reach the trailhead.

On the drive in, I found some of's reported distances a little off (eg. Corn Creek road is not nearly as far from Exit 93), but the signage at important intersections was good.  The Gass Peak road was rough enough in a few spots to make me glad that I had a high-clearance vehicle, but generally, the road was in pretty good shape by backcountry standards.  The trailhead is a small parking area beside a T-intersection with a service road that heads toward Gass Peak.  A sign here (see photo below) seems to imply that the service road is off-limits to unauthorized motor vehicles.  The service road splits further up, but both branches end on the nearest ridge.  Strangely enough, there is absolutely no evidence of any "serviceable" infrastructure in the vicinity which makes me wonder about the validity of the "trailhead" sign.  While a 4WD is definitely needed to reach the end of the west (climber's right) branch of the service road, a high-clearance vehicle could easily get far enough to to shave nearly 3 kilometres off the round-trip distance.

On our way up, Kelly and I took the east (climber's left) branch of the service road.  Where the road peters out on the ridge, we simply headed upward and eventually connected with the terminus of the west branch of the service road.  From here, we followed a faint trail up a series of ridges rising successively to the summit.  Snow plastered most of the north side of Gass Peak on this day, but it was neither deep nor slippery enough to hinder our progress.  In fact, there were fresh footprints in the snow that were very reassuring to follow.

Throughout the day, Kelly and I saw USAF fighter jets fly overhead, and their sonic booms were hard to ignore.  We also heard numerous faint thuds which were a bit of a mystery until Kelly realized that they were probably the result of gun fire from the nearby shooting range.

The summit is cluttered with solar panels and other telecommunications equipment, but Kelly and I still enjoyed far-reaching views as well as pleasantly calm weather.  On descent, we mostly retraced our steps except that we took the west branch of the service road.  Fresh tire tracks, in conjunction with the aforementioned fresh footprints, showed that at least some people do not take the sign at the trailhead too seriously.
I don't think "hibited" is a real word...but the sentiment is about right! Gass Peak is visible behind the sign at the trailhead.
Can you spot the road? The normal route winds up the ridges on the left.
You can find a whole forest of these in the Mojave National Preseve. There are a few Joshua trees in the area.
It would be no problem to drive at least this far... Kelly hikes up the east branch of the service road.
Look but don't touch! The sunshine highlights this Cholla cactus.
Wish I had my waterproof boots for this hike! Snow covers much of the north side of Gass Peak.
Rather woody, isn't it? Kelly holds up the remnant of some sort of cactus (probably cholla).
Good place to get shrubbery. Ni! Kelly looks across the access valley to the north.
Wanna hug? This yucca plant resembles a saguaro cactus.
Lotsa bumps along the way! The route continues along the connecting ridgelines.


The summit is further away than it looks!

Kelly studies the remainder of the route to the summit.


Very mildly. A few rocky sections like this one are mildly exposed.
Very cool. Kelly admires this snow-plastered yucca plant.
Almost there...finally! Kelly approaches the summit of Gass Peak.
You too can wield the Sword of Power on top of Mount Gass! Kelly (holding what appears to be a plastic propeller blade) and Sonny stand on the 2109-metre summit of Gass Peak.
It's probably possible to hike up the west ridge. This is the west ridge of Mount Gass.  The Spring Mountains are visible at distant left.
And somewhere at distant far right is Sheep Peak. The distinctive wall to the northwest is Fossil Ridge.
Bizarre! These icicles on the summit pole have seemingly defied gravity by growing upwards.
Lotsa unnamed ridges to walk on here! Frenchman Mountain is visible at distant right to the southeast.
Watch your head! Icicles were constantly falling off the antenna while we were there. Telecommunications equipment crowd the summit of Gass Peak.
This must be a good place to get a tan! These solar panels presumably help power the telecommunications equipment.
It's nicer to be up here than down there! To the south, the Las Vegas Strip is barely visible through the haze and smog.
Just another beautiful day in southern Nevada! The desert landscape glows late in the day.


The sun is gone by 4:17 PM!

The sun disappears behind some clouds on the southwest horizon.


If I could do this trip over, I would drive up the right branch to the bottom of the steep hill just before the end of the road. This is the route as viewed in Google Earth.
Another must-do peak in the Las Vegas area! Total Distance:  11.7 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 13 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  619 metres

GPX Data