Frontier Adventure

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the Ruby Crest Trail

By Michael Lanza

Under a hot sun, but with a nice breeze keeping us cool, on our second day backpacking the Ruby Crest Trail in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, we made the slow, 1,700-foot climb from the North Fork of Smith Creek to a pass at over 10,000 feet. It was a grind and my family spread out along the trail. But reaching the pass, we all stopped and smiled, mesmerized by a breathtaking view of the small basin that cradles Overland Lake and the mountains extending for miles beyond it (photo above).

Although our trip’s first two days had already been very scenic from the first steps, that pass heralded the upcoming character and magnificence of the Ruby Crest Trail, which does largely hew to the crest of this very alpine mountain range. I had long had the Ruby Crest Trail on my radar, but it exceeded expectations, with almost constant, long vistas and some mountain lakes that are among the prettiest I’ve seen in more than three decades of backpacking, including many years as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and running this blog.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker above Liberty Lake on the Ruby Crest Trail in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains.
” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ width=”900″ height=”600″ src=”″ alt=”A backpacker above Liberty Lake on the Ruby Crest Trail in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains.” class=”wp-image-40746″ srcset=” 1024w, 300w, 768w, 1080w, 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />My wife, Penny, above Liberty Lake on the Ruby Crest Trail in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains.

My family backpacked a four-day, approximately 36-mile, south-to-north traverse of the Ruby Crest Trail, from Harrison Pass to Lamoille Canyon, in mid-July—a perfect time of year in the Rubies, with wildflowers blooming, moderate daytime temperatures and comfortably cool nights, and not as many mosquitoes as you’d see in many mountain ranges in July. But like
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