Island Lake


Location: Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, southeast of Elko, Nevada
Access: From Idaho St and 12th in Elko, head south to the Lamoille Hwy (SR 227). At the T-intersection with 227, turn left and head southeast on 227 for 17.7 miles, then turn right on Lamoille Canyon Rd and drive 12.2 miles to the end of the road and park in the large parking lot. Road is paved all the way.
Map: USGS 1:24K Ruby Dome & Ruby Valley School
Trailhead: From the parking lot, walk back towards the entrance to the trailhead on the west side of the road.
Trail: 2 miles and 890 feet elevation gain to Island Lake, well-marked and low-grade trail up the side of Lamoille Canyon. Very little shade. 
Fees: None
Dogs: OK
Weather: National Weather Service forecast
               Snow Info from LMON2 Station near the trailhead


August 2, 2009; Monday

After returning from Liberty Pass to my car, I took a few minutes to eat a PBH sandwich and cool off my feet. Then I put on fresh socks and sneakers, loaded a few items in my daypack and headed up the Island Lake Trail around 11:25 under a perfect, clear sky. It was getting pretty warm, and the trail is very exposed to the sun, but I took along plenty of water, and put my handkerchief under my hat to shade my neck, which seemed to help. 

The trail went up the west side of U-shaped Lamoille Canyon, and gained altitude deceptively fast for such a moderate grade. A few sections of thick, short aspen gave way to a riot of wildflowers: purple delphinium, yellow sunflower, white wild celery, red Indian paintbrush, pink ?, etc. etc. It was extremely lush, and I suspect there must be underground water movement to account for so much vegetation on what appears to be a dry mountainside.  In the still, warm air, the sound of cars below on the highway was very noticeable. Itís amazing how much noise a car makes just driving. Thatís about the only downside I recall from this trail, however, as the views were spectacular, and got better with each step upward. I particularly enjoyed watching Verdi Peak, across the canyon. Talk about a rugged mountain. I had considered hiking up to the summit, but reconsidered when I saw how steep the climb from the canyon really is. 

After 40 minutes, I reached a bridge over the Island Lake outlet creek, far below the lake. The wood timbers smelled of creosote in the hot sun. A little farther on, I encountered the first shade on the trail, thrown by a few very large limber pines. I stopped and drank water, cooled off a couple of minutes, then plunged ahead, up the trail. I stopped frequently to snap photographs of the amazing wildflower display. 

At around 12:20 I reached the lake, and immediately found a shady spot on the south end to stop and take off my shoes and socks and rest a bit. It was pretty darn hot out. Several other hikers lounged about on the rocks and under the trees around the lake. A boy and his dad fished, but didnít pull anything while I was there. I examined the cliffs above the lake and it looked quite doable to hike on higher. If it were earlier in the day, and cooler, I might have attempted it, but as it was, I felt content to sit in the shade. After cooling down to normal, and chugging down a good amount of water, I put on my shoes and headed down. The hike back took just under an hour. 

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada

Island Lake Trail in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada


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Page created 12-19-09
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