Into the Heart of Jarbidge Wilderness, Nevada

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14190A, Supported Trekking


  • Hike through one of the remotest Wilderness Areas in the lower 48
  • Enjoy fabulous vistas, wildflowers, and wildlife
  • Carry only your daypack and lunch for the day


  • All meals from dinner the first day to breakfast the last day
  • Pack animals and wranglers to transport your gear
  • Gratuities


DatesJul 6–13, 2014
StaffAurora Roberts

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Come and explore the heart of the Jarbidge Wilderness as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Located in northeastern Nevada, this wilderness area is one of the more remote and least traveled wilderness areas in the lower 48 states. We’ll spend a week traversing mountains and valleys filled with wildflowers, spotting deer and elk, swimming in lakes, and -- for those who are properly licensed and bring their poles -- fishing the river, streams, and lakes.  We begin our adventure camped near Murphy Hot Springs. The next day our hike takes us up and across a high meadow and down through canyons following the East Fork of the Jarbidge River. The next five days we’ll wander the trails through the wilderness discovering the flora and fauna while spotting the abundant wildlife. On layover days, hikes in the area will be offered to Cougar or Prospect Peak and a nearby lake. There will also be opportunities for fishing, or just relaxing at camp. Nighttime brings spectacular starry nights; although they appear late in the evening this time of year, the star gazing is breathtaking with no light to disrupt your views.


We’ll hike between 35 and 40 miles, depending on the trails we choose near camp. The trails can be steep, and on layover days we will use animal trails or move cross-country where permitted. Due to elevation gains and losses and rough country, many could find the trip strenuous.

Day 1: Meet in Murphy Hot Springs and drive to camp to meet our packer for a get-acquainted dinner, trip orientation, and overnight camp. Elevation the first night: 8,000 feet.

Day 2: Hike to first camp. Elevation loss: 1,400 feet. After breakfast, we will break camp and leave our gear with the packer to begin our trip into the wilderness. We will cross a high meadow area that's rich with colorful spring flowers and views of distant rugged and multi-colored mountains before descending down into glaciated canyons.  We’ll follow the East Fork of the Jarbidge River, which is bordered by aspens, cottonwoods, and conifers, to our first campsite.

Day 3: Hike near the first camp. Our hike day here will depend largely on the physical condition and needs of the group.  We will offer a hike up one of the ridges that follows a trail farther into the valley. Elk are commonly spotted along this route. Others may wish to remain in camp or fish the river that flows nearby.

Day 4: Hike to Emerald Lake. Elevation gain: 2,800 feet. After breakfast, we leave the river, retracing a few steps to our next trail, and slowly make our way up through Cougar Canyon to the pass. From there we descend to Emerald Lake, our camp site for the next few days. We will pass by an old miner’s cabin, where we will document our walk through this remote wilderness.

Day 5: Peak Hike. We have one of two options for day five (or maybe we'll choose both). We can hike to Cougar Peak (elevation gain: 1,159 feet) or Prospect Peak (elevation gain: 967 feet), two of the more prominent peaks surrounding the lake.

Day 6: Hike to Jarbidge Lake. Elevation gain: 400 feet. Elevation loss: 400 feet. Today’s hike takes us a couple of miles down to Jarbidge Lake. This lake is surrounded by forest and is relatively shallow depending on the time of year. It is nestled at the head of Jarbidge Canyon and boasts a quiet relaxing atmosphere to contemplate its natural surroundings. The hike back up though steep at times will find us awestruck as we re-enter the Emerald Lake Basin.

Day 7: Hike back to Jarbidge, stay in Jarbidge. Elevation loss: 3,100 feet. Today we descend back to the town of Jarbidge. This is our steepest descending walk and we will take it slowly to enjoy the remaining time we have in the timeless wilderness. After walking to our B&B and taking a good shower, we will share our last dinner together and reminisce the wonders that we shared together on this wonderful journey.

Day 8: Depart for home. After breakfast we will sadly say our goodbyes with promises to meet again on some distant trail. Our fondest memories will be recorded in our minds and hopefully with our cameras to remind us of this wilderness that needs our protection for our children and grandchildren.



Getting There

This is a remote wilderness experience and requires more time to reach than other trips. The meeting time for this trip begins at 3:00 p.m. on July 6th. The exact location will be sent to you before the trip. Transportation to the meeting point on the correct day and arrival at the appropriate time is the responsibility of each individual. A detailed map and driving directions will be provided to everyone who wants to drive to the Jarbidge Trip. Transportation from the airport at Twin Falls at the start and return to the airport from Jarbidge at the end can also be arranged at your expense. Please inquire with the leader about this service.

The closest airport is Twin Falls, which is 100 miles from Murphy Hot Springs. If you drive from the West Coast, allow 12 hours driving time.  From Reno, it is roughly eight hours, depending on how many times you make gas and comfort stops.

Approximate distances to Murphy Hot Springs from the nearest large airports:

  • San Francisco airport, CA: 718 miles        
  • Oakland airport, CA: 691 miles
  • Reno airport, NV: 471 miles
  • Boise, ID: 201 miles
  • Twin Falls airport, ID: 75 miles

Accommodations and Food

Trip members will provide their own accommodations (a good quality tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc.). Remember those stars? Think tent with a fly! The packer supplies all the food and cooking equipment and the food is prepared and provided by our packer. The trip leaders have tasted it and it was soooo good. Vegetarians can be accommodated, but this trip does not lend itself to many specialty diets.  Please consult with the leader if there are any medical or dietary restrictions. Each person is required to bring his or her own eating utensils and flatware. In true Sierra Club fashion, we will assist the cook on a rotating basis for a couple of meals during the trip and will all be responsible for washing and securing our own dishes.  As part of your weight allowance, a lightweight campstool or chair is highly recommended. If mosquitoes are prevalent, we will provide a mosquito tent to eat and commiserate under during our meals.

A latrine will be dug and a sit-down toilet will be set up by the packer well away from camp. Remember while out on the trials a different etiquette is required and will be discussed at our first meeting. 

Trip Difficulty

This trip should be considered moderately strenuous to strenuous depending on your hiking and camping experience. Once the leaders receive your forms, you will be contacted to determine if this trip is a good fit for you. We want to ensure that this will be an experience for you to remember with fond memories.

Equipment and Clothing

A detailed packing list will be provided after you have signed up for the trip. Weight is limited to 25 pounds of personal gear, not including a chair or campstool, that can weigh up to and no more than 5 pounds. Waterproof hiking boots are essential. We will be crossing streams and rivers that inferior boots could render useless.  High-top boots are recommended and if trail shoes are brought, they should be used around camp only. Your sleeping bag should be graded between 15 and 0 degrees. July often has spring-like weather and can get cold at night. If you are a fisherman, your fishing gear is included in the 25-pound weight limit or you may choose to carry it. Your gear should be placed in a duffle bag with no wheels. This is important for the health and safety of the pack animals. All loose pills or other rattling gear should be stuffed into silence. Some of the trails are narrow and could cause the pack animals to spook and slide down steep areas.  


There is not a lot of information about the Jaridge Wilderness. Here are a few links that you might like reading:


The Sierra Club is an environmental organization. Our mission is to take people out on excursions to increase awareness of the need to protect the environment. Here in the United Sates, we have four agencies responsible for managing and protecting our lands. We will be discussing these organizations and learning how everyone can play a part in wilderness protection.  We will also examine the impacts of human involvement as we spend our days roaming through the area. One of our goals will be to follow minimum impact practices utilizing Leave No Trace principles.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.



Aurora Roberts is an avid hiker who enjoys hiking and exploring the outdoors. As she became conscientious of the destruction of forests and pollution of the environment, she saw the need to preserve them, which naturally led her to join the Sierra Club. Aurora became an Outings leader after participating in National and International Outings. She leads international trips to destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, England, Ireland, Peru, Viet Nam, and Scotland as well as National Outings in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She spends a lot of her time reading, preparing gourmet meals, and writing. Her attention to detail, patience, and flexibility will ensure that you have a wonderful experience.


Hurston Roberts loves the outdoors and gets great enjoyment out of sharing mountain splendor, the wilderness and outdoor experiences with the others. A Sierra Club trip leader for over 11 years, Hurston also leads Sierra Club international trips in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Croatia, Vietnam and Nepal. He leads national trips in the Sierra’s and Hawaii. After living in Hawaii for 24 years and Northern Virginia for 7 years, Hurston now lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.

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