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Jarbidge Mountain Trip

Click on the pictures below to see the full-size version.
Square Top
The Matterhorn from the Jarbidge River canyon.
Square Top from Jumbo Peak.
Jumbo Peak

Jumbo Peak from Square Top.

Trip Report (10/03/2003):

The town of Jarbidge is tabbed as the "most remote inhabited town in the 48 contiguous states". No paved roads lead to the town and it is hours away from any cities large enough for say a McDonalds. Beyond its remoteness, it is tucked neatly in a very narrow river canyon. The remoteness, beauty, and history of the town all add up to make it an incredible destination. We ate a fine breakfast at one of the local eating establishments, which was very clean and modern.

To the southwest, the mighty Jarbidge Mountains rise 6,000 feet above the town. They really are nothing more than a high ridge of about 8 peaks above 10,000 feet that separate two forks of the Jarbidge River. This is what brought Rick Lowell and myself to this area.

Plans were to drive to the trailhead at Snowslide Gulch (also the boundary for the wilderness area). From here, we would hike to the headwaters of the Jarbidge River and hike northerly and hit 3 or 4 peaks before dropping back down to the trail. Once arriving, we found that the river had flooded in 1995 and washed the road away several miles before Snowslide Gulch. Therefore, we changed our plan of attack to make our way to a ridge south of Dry Gulch that we would follow to the crest of the range at 10,300.

After ascending easterly up 3,000 feet of steep brush and forested slopes to the crest of the range, we headed south to the summit of the Matterhorn. At 10,839 feet, Matterhorn is the highest point in the range. Besides being the range highpoint, it is also quite impressive, sporting a pointed summit that is vertical for the final 500 feet on its north side. The summit offers incredible views south in Nevada, straight down into the Jarbidge River valleys on each side of you, and north to the high plains of southern Twin Falls and Owyhee counties in Idaho. This is quite possibly the smallest summit I have been on to date.

From the Matterhorn, we then headed north, ascending Square Top and Jumbo Mountain. While the whole ridge was scenic and enjoyable, one section near the summit of Square Top mountain was especially narrow and scenic. If you have more time, water, and energy… the last 10,000 foot peak in the range (Jarbidge Peak) is another 500 feet and mile away. We were low on all three.

From Jumbo Mountain, we descended the steep slopes back down to the Jarbidge River and out vehicle. The ridge down was steep, but was easily traversed. Keep your eye out for old mining remnants on the ridge.

This was a difficult hike that left Rick and myself a bit sore and ready for a meal and bed. Plan on it taking the better part of a day. That said, a lot of time was spent sitting atop peaks and reading through summit log entries. It is obvious that this area is seldom visited, with only 10 or so entries in the summit registers a year.

Other notes:

There are several areas for free camping from Jarbidge to the end of Elko county road #2477.

You can get to this area with a two-wheel drive vehicle very easily. Rick and I made it a bit further by having higher clearance, but it is not a necessity.

Trip stats:
Time: 9 hours 45 minutes
Length: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 5300 feet
Class (difficulty): 2-3


Make your way to Jarbidge, Nevada. We did so by heading south out of Twin Falls, ID on ID 95 to Rogerson, ID. Here we took a right and headed westerly onto the signed Jarbidge Road. The road is in great condition and paved until just before Murphy Hot Springs. Here it descends into the Jarbidge canyon and becomes a highly maintained dirt road. After about 20 miles of winding road, you will be in Jarbidge.

From Jarbidge, head south for 3 miles and take the signed turnoff for Elko county road #2477. This road goes for a mile or so before becoming impassable to vehicles from flood damage back in 1995. We walked from this point up the old road. You will pass sections of road still in tremendous shape, old picnic sites, and an outhouse and trailhead eventually.

The issue of the road is a hot-button issue, with a battle between Elko County, Jarbidge residents, environmentalists, and the federal government over its reopening.


See trip report above...

Pictures: Click on the pictures below to see the full-size version.
Hoodoos in the Jarbidge River canyon.
Downtown Jarbidge.
Humorous sign in post office window.
Matterhorn from the Jabidge River trail.
About 300 feet below the pointed summit of Matterhorn.
The ridge we would follow from Matterhorn.
Square Top from the saddle north of Matterhorn.
Looking down at the Jarbidge River from Jumbo Peak.
Looking northeast towards the Magic Valley from Jumbo Peak.

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