Dan Koellen AI6XG
Mount Houghton W7N/WC-002 Activation
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Operating Position on Mount Houghton, Mount Rose W7N/WC-001 in Background
Summit Trip Summary
Distance: ~ 4.8 mi one way
Elevation Gain: ~1560 feet
Time: ~2.5 hours one way
Route: Tamarack Lake Trail, Relay Peak Road, Tahoe Rim Trail, Mt. Houghton summit trail
Access: Mt. Rose Summit Trailhead - Nevada Highway 431
Parking: Several spots at Trailhead
Rig: MTR3b LCD
Bands/Modes: 20 mtr - CW, 30 mtr - CW, 40 mtr - CW
Antenna: Trapped 20/30/40 mtr EFHW
Antenna Support: Small trees
Cell Service: Good (Verizon)
RF Noise: Quiet
Mount Houghton is in the Mount Rose Wilderness area; it is the second highest peak, second only to Mount Rose W7N/WC-001. There are four 10 point peaks - Mount Rose W7N/WC-001, Mount Houghton W7N/WC-002, Tamarack Peak W7N/WC-003 and Slide Mountain W7N/WC-004 - that are accessible from the Mount Rose Summit Trailhead.
The hike starts at the Mount Rose Summit Trailhead parking lot, the .gpx file is available here. I chose to take Tamarack Lake trail to Relay Peak Road NF17N85 to eventually catch the Tahoe Rim Trail. Another alternative is to take the Tahoe Rim Trail from the parking lot. I took that route the day before when activating Mount Rose, I prefer Relay Peak Road to get to Mount Houghton.
Click on this link for GPX file
Getting to the Summit
Start the hike at the Mount Rose Summit trailhead on Highway 431. To get on to Tamarack Lake Trail, take the trail that heads south from the trailhead. Don't take the stairs, this will lead you to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Tamarack Lake Trail is basically a connector to Relay Peak road. After about 0.6 miles Tamarack Lake Trail veers uphill to the right and the connector to Relay Peak Road is straight (left).
Take the connector trail down to Relay Peak Road NF17N85 and turn right. Proceed up Relay Peak road for a few miles until you see Third Creek Pond on the left. Just after the pond you will turn right onto the connector to Tahoe Rim Trail. After about 0.1 mile, you will turn left (uphill) onto Tahoe Rim Trail. If you encounter the water fall you went too far.
The Tahoe Rim Trail winds its way uphill with several switchbacks until you come up to the top of a ridge. This is where you pick up the trail to the summit of Mount Houghton. Tahoe Rim Trail continues to Relay Peak from here. Turn onto the trail to the summit at the sign; continue on the trail until you come up to the top of the summit. There is a pile of rocks that mark the summit, this is the highest point.
On the Summit
The summit itself is a long, open ridge that continues for quite a distance. Looking to the northeast you see Mount Rose, to the south is Relay Peak, to the east is Slide Mountain and Tamarack Peak is to the southeast.
There are small trees, small shrubs and gravel and rock on the summit. I used a small tree to hold up my mast and supported the feed point end of my EFHW with a line attached to one of my trekking poles. The trekking pole was supported by a small tree as well.
Simply return the way you came back to the trailhead. Since I had time, I took the Tahoe Rim Trail to Relay Peak and then returned via Relay Peak Road. For summer activations you may have enough daylight to also activate Tamarack Peak.