This ride came out of placing pins on an area map representing the rides that have contributed to this site. My eyes were drawn to Hill Ranch Road and Hill Ranch Canyon. The line on the map started up the east side of the Truckee River from Main St, Wadsworth, then headed north east across the landscape towards Winnemucca. Sections of it were very straight so I figured it was following a power line or pipe line. I figured that type of road would be very follow-able. So I approached my friends Raymond Eliot and Dean Magnuson to see if they were up to this exploratory ride. Clearly thay had no better plans.
We got a day visitor’s pass to park on Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation land. The land manager for much of the terrain we rode today is the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. I was worried that the road close to the Hill Ranch or Hill Ranch Canyon would be private but the was no indication. Hill Ranch Rd proved to be paved as it ran along the Truckee River. We got to see small horse, sheep and llama ranches tucked among large stands of cottonwood trees. We had excellent views of Pond Pk and the Pah Rah Range as well. The recent rains gave everything a fresh wash as I imagine before the rains everything would have been pretty dusty.
We passed Sheepherders and Windmill Canyons before we made it to Hill Ranch Canyon. The first section we road through was a heavily eroded and sculpted section of badlands before we entered Hill Ranch Canyon. Raymond was riding his trusty Soma Saga with 700x40c tires which was proving a bit challenging in spots of sticky mud. The volcanic nature of the Truckee Range created these dark extrusions of rock on the mountainsides which I assume where the name Black Mountain came from.
The climb into Hill Ranch Canyon was challenging with the combination of volcanic rock and sedimentary erosion. Although this road runs along a pipeline it is not well maintained. Eventually the road pitched up to a steep hike-a-bike before we topped out at a saddle overlooking Little Valley, Juniper Peak, and a confluence of transmission and pipe lines. We continued a bit further before we turned around for our return trip.
The hike-a-bike was a challenging descent for Dean on his full suspension fat bike as well as for me on my Surly Instigator. The Soma Saga got to go for another hike but Ray did great job navigating his road touring tires through the rocks and ruts.
I think this route is an excellent alternative to riding to the Black Rock Desert. The maps show potential water tanks scattered about but if the goal was Wadsworth to Gerlach on dirt, then this could be done in a long day. As always there is more water in the desert than you think, but carrying enough water is the greatest challenge.