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Bag a Summit! Arc Dome from Columbine Campground

The Toiyabe Range, found just below the town of Austin, Nevada, is among the longer mountain ranges in the state. It also draws a striking resemblance to some other ranges that Connor Fields has visited in previous episodes of “Outdoor Nevada,” such as the Ruby Crest Mountains. The difference here is Toiyabe’s isolation and the variety of recreational opportunities.

The Toiyabe Range is not known for its hiking, like the Rubies and Jarbidge are, but it offers plenty of gems for smaller day hikes, 360-degree views of Nevada’s topography, or — for more experienced desert hikers — Nevada’s longest official trekking route, The Toiyabe Crest Trail. 

Although you might get a concerned look or two from the OHVers who explore the ridge on old service roads, this 90-mile mountain range is worth visiting for a hike or two. 



Getting There: The roads around the Toiyabe Range tend to be less-well-maintained than those of more accessible mountains. So, all-wheel drive and good navigation skills are recommended. Carefully follow the directions on the United State Forest Service website.

Starting in Austin, take Lincoln Highway (I-50) west for one mile to State Route 722. Turn left to join State Highway 722 for seven miles to the junction on Route 21. Continue for 35 miles to the Yomba Indian Reservation and turn left onto Forest Service Road 119 for 10 miles. The road will end at a roundabout marking Columbine Campground and the trailhead leading up to Arc Dome.

Distance: The Arc Dome trail is 14.6 miles out and back with 4,335 feet of elevation gain. The trail begins in a thick aspen grove and follows Stewart Creek to a high ridge above the tree line. It takes you to one of Nevada’s 10 tallest peaks, but even if you don’t make the 11,775-foot summit, the views of Nevada’s basin and range topography are a breathtaking sight. From the peak, you can see Mount Jefferson, Toiyabe Dome, and the White Mountains in California. 

Equipment Needed: It’s crucial to have plenty of water carrying capacity for desert hiking. Given the exposure of hiking above tree line, along with the limited information on seasonal water sources for the Toiyabe Range, it’s recommended to carry two to three liters of water, or enough for a full day of hiking. 

Pro Tip: The Arc Dome trail is best hiked from May to October. Although the trail starts at almost 8,600 feet, it’s still hot in the summer months. Afternoon thunderstorms are also common in the Toiyabe Range, and you should plan on being below the tree line before storms roll in. For those wanting to catch fall colors, October offers a cool respite from the desert heat.

This guide is brought to you in partnership with KNPR's Desert Companion in support of Vegas PBS Outdoor Nevada.

About the Author


Ryan Vellinga is a graphic designer at Desert Companion. Outside of work, he's an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast always searching for inspiration in Nevada's landscapes.

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