Garson Road; Lessons learned on a gem of a route!

I have talked about this road in a previous ride report as well as a part of the Hunter Lake Rd area but had never fully explored the road. As posted at its beginning it is essentially an out and back trip that ends at a private road in the Truckee River canyon between Reno and Truckee, CA.

IMAG0514One can only hope that a future owner of this road would open its access because it could create a wonderful, albeit tough, passage to Lake Tahoe and beyond.

The road starts on the south side of Interstate 80, across from the Boomtown Casino. From there it climbs into the Carson Range on a good quality road bed, though rocky at times. It was a good hour of climbing before the the first trees offered shade. By the second hour of climbing the first major landmark was achieved, the radio towers. Before the radio towers there are a couple of meadows that could support a campsite for a quick get away on a sub 24 overnighter from Reno.


The next two landmarks came much more quickly, the Big Meadow and the reservoir. The pitch of the road was less beastly now and the views from elevation were fabulous.


The lesson learned on this ride was not to try to go cross-country in an area without being sure of the terrain. I thought I was just west of Hunter Lake, so when I headed west on a side spur of a road I did not think I was getting “lost”. The road disappeared so I followed openings in the forest, hiked the bike over rock bands and thick chaparral anticipating Hunter Lake Rd materializing any moment. Stubbornly I continued forward and down hill until I was above the Hunter Creek drainage.  I came across a duo-track and had the option of going up or down. I chose down figuring I was only a few miles from Hunter Creek trail. With hindsight and the power of Google Maps taking the duo-track up may have gotten me to Hunter Lake. I descended down to a pond and cabin that locals have told me may be used by a shepherd.

Pond below Hunter Lake above Hunter Creek drainage

The road disappeared below the pond.  Again I was hike-a-biking through thick tangles in and out of a drainage parallel to Hunter Creek .  Finally my forward motion was so slow I abandoned my bike to get out of the drainage and find the Hunter Creek trail. I made it to the trailhead parking lot just short of 12 hours after leaving my home on this day outing. I was expecting a 4-5 hour round trip but my perceived familiarity with the area got me in over my head. Lesson learned.

I have since learned that the owner of the private road is OK with bike travel. I must make the Garson Rd- Iceland Rd day trip this fall. Maybe it can loop back to Reno via Dog Valley Rd. I also learned I made my west bound turn towards Hunter Lake about two miles too early. So this loop is still on my to-do list. 

4 thoughts on “Garson Road; Lessons learned on a gem of a route!

    1. I am under the impression that it is a private road but I have not checked it out to be sure. I must give it a go! It is possible that the home owner will be open to the possibility of bike riders on their road.

  1. Albert heisler

    Hi I live here in Verdi, just recently they started construction on a new housing development and now have vary large signs that say no traspassing , iv been driving up there for years, and now no more access? Not sure if this is legal, how can they just close it off. What reno mayor whould do this to there own people. Just to make a buck..

    1. The entrance to Garson Rd road has been flip-flopping from open to closed as long as I have lived in Reno. It may be worth a call to the Forest Service to see what access can be arranged. I will follow up.

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