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Ruby Dome in the Ruby Mountains
| Ruby Dome is the tallest peak in the Ruby Mountains and Elko County at 11,387 feet in elevation. The hike to the summit of Ruby Dome is around 6 miles long with an elevation gain of almost 4800 feet. This peak can be easily seen from Elko and Spring Creek as it towers above the valley below. You can hike Ruby Dome as a day trip but most people spend the night at Griswold Lake and then hike to Ruby Dome the next Day.
This hike starts at the trail head in the Spring Creek Campground. For directions to the trail head see the Spring Creek Campground section on the Trail Head Page of this site.
You will need a key to get through the gate and into the campground. To obtain a key contact the Spring Creek Association office at 451 E. Spring Creek Pkwy (775-753-6295) 8am-5pm weekdays and arrange for a key to get through the gate. As of July 2005 there was a $10 per person, per day fee and a $25 dollar deposit for the key to the gate. If you write a check for the key deposit and drop the key off after hours through the door slot the association will mail you back the check for the key deposit.
The hike to Ruby Dome starts at an elevation of 6600 feet at the base of the Ruby Mountains. From here the trail heads up Hennan Canyon along Bufferfield Creek. This part of the hike can be hot but luckily the trail weaves in and out of aspen trees and runs very close to Butterfield Creek from time to time.
As you hike up the canyon the terrain changes and gets rockier. Once you get closer to the Griswold Lake the trail gets steeper and you can lose the trail in the rocks and vegetation very easily. I always try to make this hike late in the hiking season because the traffic on the trail makes it easier to find your way through this section of the hike.
Once you arrive at Griswold Lake I figure you are half way to the summit. Griswold Lake is at 9220 feet in elevation and is a popular place to spend the night before the steep climb to the summit of Ruby Dome. It usually takes me between two to two and a half hours to get to Griswold Lake. The time to the summit is also around two and a half hours from Griswold Lake.
From Griswold Lake the hike really starts to get steep. Hike to the back of the lake on the left side of the lake and you can find a trail that heads up the slope to the ridge above. Once you make it to the top of this ridge you will be at 10,200 feet in elevation and can see Ruby Dome as the peak to your right. The photo above was taken from this ridge.
From here you have the choice to summit Ruby Dome from the ridge on the left or a chute on the right. On my first trip to the summit we used the ridge on the left. This is not a difficult route but since I do not like heights and there are huge drop offs on both sides of this ridge I decided to use the chute this time.
The chute worked well except for the fact that there was still deep snow in it. The snow had melted back from the edge enough for me to work my way up. Even this required me to climb a few rocks to keep the hike alive. The snow in some of these spots was still over my head and it was the 30th of August. Crampons would have made this part of the hike really easy.
After you exit the chute keep heading up the rocky slope and before long you will see the two karns on the summit of Ruby Dome. Now the only thing you have to do is enjoy the view and write your name in the book.
To Download a KML to open in Google Earth Click Here.
This kml gives a 3D representation of the Ruby Mountains and this hike. When viewed in Google Earth there are more photos of the trail from me and other users plus points of interest from the interactive map.
For photos of this hike go the Ruby Dome photo set on flickr.com
I also hiked this in September 1998. That trip report is located at the bottom of this page, Here
This is one of the harder hikes around here in my opinion. I have been to Ruby Dome only once and my friend and I did it as a day hike. I know of a lot of people who make this an overnight hike by camping at Griswold Lake the first day and then going to the 11,387 ft. summit of Ruby Dome the second day. To get to Ruby Dome hike to Griswold Lakewhich will take around 2:00 hr. if you don't lose the trail (which is very easy to do early in the year before trail traffic makes the trail more visible.) My friend and I arrived at the Summit of Ruby Dome in 3 hours 57 minutes. Three hours is not a lot of time but when you start hiking at an elevation of around 7,000 ft. and end up at over 11,000 feet that is a lot of climbing in a short amount of time.
When you get to Griswold go to the left side of the lake (as you are facing the lake). About 3/4 of the way to the back of the lake turn left and start climbing up the hill. There is no trail from even before the lake to the top. Although you may be able to find a trail marker every here or there if you are lucky. Once you climb up out of the lake you will end up on a rim between Griswold Lake behind you and Ruby Dome in front of you and to your right. Once you get to this point the main thing to remember is that the best way to get to the summit is to use a small chute to the right of the peak and not the ridge to the left of the peak. Work your way up to this chute and once you exit this chute you will have an easy walk to the summit which will be to your left as you come out of the chute.
The way out is the same as the way in. The difference being it is all downhill which on this hike is not a good thing. We left the summit at 11:44 and were at Griswold Lake at 12:57. We left the lake at 14:22 and arrived at our truck which was parked at the front gate of Spring Creek Picnic Area at 15:53 p.m. This was a very hard hike on the knees,(and yes I always use a pair of LEKI hiking poles.) It is straight up and then straight down and for me one way was just as demanding as the other. [maps needed 7.5 minute Ruby Dome & Lamoille & Noon Rock]