Ride Report: Pyramid Lake Shore

A great day out with friends on the shore of Pyramid Lake.

In northwestern Nevada if you talk about “the lake” most will think you are talking about Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is a beautiful blue alpine lake surrounded by snow capped forested peaks, what is not to love? But when I think of the lake, in my mind I see Pyramid Lake. Pyramid is an endorheic (closed basin) high desert lake surrounded by treeless mountain ranges and subject to extreme weather. Again, what is not to love? The two lakes are joined by the Truckee River as well as Interstate 80 and the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway. But in most peoples minds they are worlds apart.

IMAG0325 Pyramid Lake is a remnant of the ancient Lake Lahontan and has been an important resource to all who know it from early Native Americans to contemporary visitors. Currently the lake is home to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and as land managers they are the source for recreational permits or restrictions. My inspiration for this ride was to be able to tour the lake shore by fat bike. I have ridden along the west shore via highway SR 445 and imagined what an expedition it would be to ride around the lake at the water’s edge. Unfortunately this is not permitted as sensitive areas have been damaged by vandals. Now my thought is to circumnavigate the lake using the closest route permitted.


For this outing I invited two friends Tom Driggers and Brandon Anderson to trek along the shoreline from Sutcliffe to Nixon, where the Truckee River enters Pyramid Lake. For an early January outing the damp and frozen sand provided easy passage. As a popular fishing destination we passed dozens of sport fishermen along the shore. Our fat bikes were great conversation starters. We played around on patches of ice and Tom found one that was thinner than thought over deeper than thought.

IMAG0326This was a great day on the bikes. The fat tires will make lake shore exploring a fun possibility. Nevada’s lakes are waiting!

4 thoughts on “Ride Report: Pyramid Lake Shore

  1. Randy

    Stumbled on this while looking into a completely original idea I had… circumnavigating pyramid lake along the shoreline by fatbike! 🙂

    I recently did a full lap around the shoreline of Eagle Lake not far away in CA…that wound up being about 60 miles and pretty hard riding (rock gardens for miles and miles, super soft muck for miles and miles, and lots of really fun shoreline in between. Pyramid is definitely next on my list. I was looking at doing it this fall. I’m super curious about any more info you can give me on conditions, etc… or if you have a date set and wouldn’t mind company!

    1. I think the loop around Pyramid Lake is a great idea. Unfortunately the red tape regarding the shore closures from the northwest shore above Warrior Pt. looping around to the northern shore to the southwest across from the pyramid is the only thing keeping me from this ride. The land managers are preventing further vandalism of these sensitive sites. I am considering riding in land of the closed shoreline to achieve the same goal. Water supply and exposure are my two greatest concerns. It is a spectacular area worth all exploration. Let me know how your plans develop.

  2. Randy

    I got on the agenda at the Pyramid Paiute Tribal Council meeting for September, asking for permission to pass through these areas along the waterline, and swearing not to travel inland from the waterline except where a big natural rock feature made it impossible not to. I was denied permission without any hesitation. Such a bummer. I have been in these areas long ago before they were closed, and they are super cool.

    1. Randy, I commend efforts to get permission for your route. I think it would be an awesome expedition. I am planning to loop the Lake Winnemucca Playa and wouldn’t like to do the Smoke Creek Desert Playa in a similar fashion. I don’t know the status of riding around Walker Lk but it would be a worthy adventure as well. Thanks for the follow up!

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