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Nelson Benchmark
Eldorado Wilderness, Nevada
April 18, 2019

Distance: 5.2 km (3.2 mi)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 220 m (722 ft

A week after hiking Pigs in Zen Peak, Shin, Dinah and I returned to Eldorado Wilderness to see Bridge Spring Arch and climb Nelson Benchmark. The short hike would leave us plenty of time to visit nearby Techatticup Mine. The site of the old gold mine is now a tourist attraction.

Like Pigs in Zen, the hike begins at the same pullout north of the town of Nelson. Unlike Pigs in Zen, we started up the road. It soon becomes a path, running over low ridges before settling into a wash that leads to Bridge Spring Arch (aka Nelson Natural Bridge). The thick, short arch is worth visiting.

From the arch, we went back up the trail and found a likely place to exit: a faint trail on the slope on our left. The trail drew us into a valley, but we soon left it to gain the ridge on our left. From there we could see Nelson BM.

To avoid losing elevation to an intervening basin, we kept right and followed easy slopes to reach Nelson's south ridge. Impossible cliffs precluded us from gaining the ridge which left us following the base of the cliffs on either side. We tried the west side, but after following a ledge we ran into steep slabs and turned around. The east side worked fine. We skirted around the cliffs until we could reach a saddle near the summit. Minutes later we were standing on top of Nelson BM.

When we were ready to leave, we retraced our steps. But where our ascent route came in from the northeast, we kept northwest toward the trailhead. After crossing low ridges and following washes, we eventually made it back to the trail and back to our car.

After the hike, we drove to Techatticup Mine a few minutes away. The mine stopped operating in 1942 and is now a ghost town that draws tourists. This site with its weathered buildings and dozens of rusting vehicles looks like a movie set, and was in fact the set for two movies: Breakdown with Kurt Russel and 3000 Miles to Graceland with Kurt Russel and Kevin Costner. We visited the gift shop which is part museum but left when a busload of tourists poured in. Afterwards we wandered around the old buildings and checked out the odd assortment of cars and trucks. I'm not much of a tourist, but I found it fascinating.

KML and GPX Tracks

The hike begins on the dirt road at a pullout

The road soon becomes a trail. Nelson is ahead but first we'll visit the arch

The trail drops into a wash

Hiking in the wash

Barrel cactus blooming

Dinah moves a rock off the path

Shin poses on Bridge Spring Arch while Dinah stands under it

After backtracking up the trail we started up a faint trail

Looking back as we ascended

We were going to head to the saddle, but turned left when we came across a nice slab that reached the ridge

The steep rock was better than ascending a rubbly slope

After gaining the ridge Nelson came into view

To reach the base of Nelson, we had to lose elevation

Colourful Pigs in Zen Peak is on the right

We ended up hiking left of the cliffs

We found a trail that eased our traverse below the cliffs

When the trail ended we dropped down and headed to the low saddle ahead

Approaching the saddle

From the saddle we had a view of the Colorado River and Lake Mohave

Around the corner, we could see the tiny false summit (centre)

Mistaking the false summit for the true summit, we kept left of the wash and climbed over the false summit. On our descent, we avoided the false summit and came down the other side of the wash.

A short scramble up a chimney leads to the small summit block

Dinah, Shin and I on Nelson BM

Starting back down. Left and right are Lonesome Peak and Mount Stocker

Heading back

Flowering beavertail cactus

Back on the trail. Our car is on the other side of the ridge.

At Techatticup Mine, old vehicles were everywhere

The 1861 general store now serves as a gift shop


Gas station

Nelson (3.2 mi, 3793 ft, 479 ft)

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