By: Richard L. Carey
Several hardy hikers from San Diego returned to the Muddy and Mormon Mountains in southern Nevada on the Thanksgiving weekend to repeat climbs done last
May. Routes on both peaks were described by Dave Jurasevich in Sage #232, July, 1994. While on the summit of Mormon on that trip Dave and I noticed a dirt road in the canyon on the south side of the mountain. It appeared that if one could drive in on this road it would offer a much closer approach than the standard route. In the previous write-ups on Mormon I had not seen any mention of an alternate route so on this trip we decided to give it a try.
Studying the Rox and Rox NE maps, the road to the southwest side of Mormon Peak is shown as a dotted jeep road ending at some ruins less than a mile from the summit. (The summit and ruins are at the far left side of the Moapa Peak NW map, but 95% of the hiking route is on the Rox NE map.) This road branches out on the plains and the northern part intersects the road along the Union Pacific railroad 2.3 miles south of the previously used turnoff to the mountain. We left the Muddy Mountains late Friday afternoon and by the time we drove north along the railroad tracks it was dark. With a little help from a GPS unit we were able to find our way into the trailhead reaching the first ruins and a suitable campsite at 9:00 pm. At home I had stored the coordinates of the road junctions so we were able to confirm our location along the way. This road is fairly good, better than the other route, and a 4WD vehicle is not needed. On the way in we passed sheep hunters camped out on the plain.
The hike went well the next day, although the fast changing weather hit us with a short blizzard near the top and hail on the way down! Hikers making the summit were Mark Adrian, Terry Flood, Gail Hanna, Judy Ware, Mark Vogt, and me. This route at 4 3/4 miles round-trip is quite a bit shorter than the old route shown on the map. I recommend this route for those wanting to hike this interesting area.
Here are the driving and hiking directions: On I-15 at Glendale take highway 168 NW for 2.8 miles to a dirt road just before a railroad overpass where you turn right (N) onto a very good graded dirt road. Reset your odometer and note the following mileage's: At 11.7 miles the road crosses to the left side of the tracks and then at 14.3 miles ford a stream and then cross the tracks to the right side at 15.5 miles. There is a railroad switchbox at 15.8 miles marked "Rox, CPC399". At 16.1 miles overall, or 0.3 miles 'past the box, the road crosses the tracks again to the left (W) side. Turn right at this point, go through a gate, and head north paralleling the tracks for 0.3 miles to a road on your right. Take this road up a wash and after it climbs up on the flat plain go straight at a junction at 2.4 miles. Continue straight at a junction at 8.4 miles and at 8.7 miles the road makes a right turn with a mescal pit on your left which is one of the few suitable camping areas in the canyon. Start the hike from here or drive another 0.8 miles to where there is a large canyon on the left (Very limited parking here). Leave the road and hike north and then NNE up the canyon and after 3/4 mile take the right branch up to a saddle at 5680 ft. Continue NE on up to the ridge and then go east to the summit. Elevation gain from the road is 2850 ft. and the hike takes 5 to 5 1/2 hours round-trip.
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