Winnemucca Ranch Rd (WRR for brevity’s sake) has always drawn me to it and I would pick it as Reno’s number one gravel-grinder. Located off Pyramid Highway about half way between Sparks and Pyramid Lake it is easy access to a vast network of dirt roads between prominent mountain ranges dry lake playas. My first trips to the area were to explore the Moon Rocks formations on my trials bikes. The Moon Rocks area is maintained by the BLM as an OHV park. My next visit to the area was to go up in a glider as a part of a tour with Sierra Adventures, a local Reno outfitter. The glider ride gave me a unique perspective of the Painted Hills area of the Virginia Mtns. The Painted Hills are on my list of next places to explore. My initial trips on WRR were short, without a destination in mind so I would turn around after a dozen or so miles. But I have probably spent more time looking at the maps figuring out how WRR connects with 395 in Herlong, CA than any other route. I have yet to commit to the 85+ mile loop. I should add that to my list of soon to be accomplished routes, maybe as an overnight. But my route around the Dogskin Mtns returned on a good portion of WRR so I should feel pretty comfortable as I explore the edges of my known word map.
But I did get a group of friends together to ride from Moon Rocks to Tule Peak along WRR. A collection of friends with a collection of bikes. Billy and Amy rode their 90’s steel mountain bikes, Dean rode his heavily customized Mongoose fat bike, Tom rode his ultra sheik carbon fat bike, and I rode my new Surly Ice Cream Truck. We all got there and back!
The route from Moon Rocks was a diagonal shortcut on a sandy whooped-out quad or moto track to WRR. The fat tired bikes definitely had an advantage over the traditional bikes. But the track was downhill so momentum was in our favor. The next portion along the gravel road was easy for the traditional mountain bikes, but in reality the newer fat bikes are quite nimble and responsive.
Tule Peak always loomed above us so at the first turnoff we decided to explore a drainage off the mountain. The path was most likely an animal trail made by thirsty cows and horses. It was fairly overgrown and we were not going to make decent time. But in our group, this is Dean’s favorite challenge.
The next turnoff proved more promising, we climbed a well grated road combined with a bit of route finding and road swapping until we were at the base of a headwall with Tule Peak above us.
For our mixed group this was a good turn around point. There was a steep road climbing to the left of the headwall but it will be there when I return. The return route was a rocky mix of jeep road and cross country until we met up with WRR.
Winnemucca Ranch Road is a great launch pad for backroad adventures in western northern Nevada. I can’t wait to ride it again.
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