Ride Report: Ridge Top of Virginia Mountains

On the drive out to Winnemucca Ranch Road I was thinking that this is the area I have explored the most. Dean pointed out that it was close to Reno, 25+ miles, and rich in areas to explore; multiple mountain ranges and valleys showing off diverse geology, vernal springs supporting vegetation and wildlife, historical mining and ranching establishments, and a network of dirt roads and jeep trails connecting it all. A perfect combination for multiple explorations.

Early in the climb looking up at some glorious geology typical in the Painted Hills

Today’s aim was to continue a ride I had first explored this spring to an overlook in the Virginia Mountains with views of Pyramid Lake. My quick tracing of jeep trails through the Virginia Mountains showed I could ride through to Wizard’s Cove on the Pyramid Lake shore. Now I just need to confirm this on the ground.

I invited Dean on this outing promising him extended climbs, rocky loose terrain, and spectacular views of Pyramid Lake. I think the views are proportional to the effort put into the ride. How could he refuse? His company made the first 6 miles and 2,000′ of climbing not quite effortless but seem to pass much more enjoyably.

The next 3.3 miles were new to me. We passed through a gated barbed wire fence and climbed a steep rocky jeep trail. I was riding a conventional mountain bike while Dean was on his fat bike. Hindsight being what it is, I was glad to be on a light bike especially when I opted to hike-a-bike but I think the plus-tire or fat-tire option would have been a better choice over all.

Overlooking Pyramid Lake

We crossed a short plateau on the ridge. The road was rough Nevada cobble. Tiny flowers were making a living in the soil between the rocks, an amazing feat considering this harsh exposure to wind, sun and snow. We could look over Hardscrabble Canyon and ranch then Pyramid Lake with Anaho and Pyramid Islands and Lake Range in the background.

The end of the road but not the end of options if you enjoy some cross country hiking

After a rolling section of loose rock we came to a hard left that went back uphill or if we continued straight we could have descended into Hardscrabble Canyon. It was coming up on the three hour mark of our ride. I had established this as a turn-around point of our day’s outing. With hindsight and further studying the maps we should have turned downhill instead of up. But we did get to pass some unique geology on our way to the end of the road.

Dean opening the gate on our steep descent over Warm Springs Valley

After a quick snack we started the return to the car. The rolling top section gave a quick reminder to how are legs were taxed from the short distance but steep climbs of the day.The descents were exhilarating and we made great time back to the vehicle. Again Dean’s fat tire option shone above my conventional tire choice, but I enjoyed the challenge.

The shoulder of Tule Peak and Dogskin Mountain in the background


My riding plans for this area include to descend into Hardscrabble Canyon and continue down to Pyramid Lake. There are a few roads on the Winnemucca Ranch side of the mountains I want to explore. There are a few roads on the west end of Dogskin Mountain I want to check out. South of Dogskin Mountain I want to ride through Seven Lakes Mountain. Undoubtedly each outing will inspire future outings. If I do it right.


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