The Pine Nut Mountains are calling. This range stretches 30 miles from US Highway 50 in the north to State Route 208 in the south. This is my first ride in this area and it left me looking forward to my next ride. The seed of the Pinyon Pine is the mountains’ name sake and I would love to be able to harvest them in the wild. A natural route from Reno into the Pine Nut Mountains would be to ride Old Toll Rd, Ophir Rd or Jumbo Grade into the Virginia and Flowery Ranges then descend to the town of Dayton. Dayton, NV can humbly stake claim to much fame in northern Nevada but if it doesn’t already it should proclaim to be the “Gateway to the Pine Nut Mountains.”
From my research into approaching this range I had decided on exploring Eldorado Canyon. From the BLM kiosk I passed a Nevada Division of Wildlife worker heading out on a quad and I asked him if this was Eldorado Canyon. He said yes, just follow this road. It was great advice as the adventure following Como Road was fantastic, just slightly geographically misplaced. With hindsight Eldorado Canyon was one canyon away and will be the next ride I do in this area.
The road was moderately pitched and got quite rocky in places. I think it sees a fair amount of weekend 4×4 traffic but on this Monday I was completely alone. Riding in a new place is always exciting. Although the high desert landscape is often very similar looking through the lens of my camera but the habitat of mixed pinyon and juniper forest tucked into rugged canyons had its own feel. The summer heat is still on and my hope was to climb above the mounting heat in the valley. Unfortunately the pygmy forest doesn’t offer abundant shade to the traveler.
I prepared for the heat by setting up my bike as my “water boy”. I had three liters in my frame bag and about 2.5 liters on my fork legs. I drank a liter on the drive to the trailhead and a liter on the drive home. Unfortunately it is a battle of attrition to stay hydrated under the Nevada sun.
This route has two main attractions beyond its natural history; historic mines and buildings, and it is a potential route through the range to the Wellington/ Smith Valley area. As I climbed away from Dayton I passed several fenced mine openings and side spurs that lead to other mining interests. The two building sites were an old ore processing site and the Como post office. The route I followed descended into Churchill Canyon between the Buckskin Range and the Pine Nut Mountains. An additional 15 miles would travel along the west side of Artesia Lake State Wildlife Management Area to Smith Valley.
As an out-and-back ride the descent back into Dayton was long and technical but a whole lot of fun! All I could think about was this has to be in my top three rides. Some of that ranking is the newness of the area, it might be a bit of the dehydration talking, but I know I will be back in the Pine Nuts soon!