Sullivan Canyon Rd, The Pine Nut Mountains

Looking down Sullivan Cyn Rd, cut trees across trail

Sullivan Canyon Road is CLOSED. What a great way to start a ride description. After riding Old Como Rd and Eldorado Canyon I have been scanning the maps of the Pine Nut Mountains to pick out other routes. Sullivan Canyon seemed like a logical pick, it branches off Eldorado Canyon to the west and has a named road leading up it to boot. I was able to plot a moderate loop covering new ground on designated roads back to our familiar start at the BLM Public Lands Access in Dayton. But I had no idea to the status of Sullivan Canyon Rd.

Dean fixing a flat about halfway up Sullivan Cyn

I invited Dean Magnuson on this ride as he really enjoyed our ride up Eldorado Canyon. This route shared the same beginning as our previous ride into the Pine Nuts. We entered the canyon and were surprised by the deep water in our path. October had been the area’s wettest on record. But the current temperatures were mild and the sun was warming so wet feet were not a concern on this trip.

Entering Eldorado Cyn, fall colors and pools of water

Riding through Eldorado Canyon we easily passed the entrance to Sullivan Canyon. After backtracking our GPS told us we were standing at the opening but there was no obvious trail. There had been extensive tree cutting  so we scouted out the trail from the debris and started our stubborn hike a bike up Sullivan Cyn.

My first experience seeing pinyon pine nuts in the wild. Quite a cornucopia!
I tried a few off the ground, not bad

We topped out of the canyon after a mile and a half struggle of humping our bikes over downed trees, in and out of the eroded canyon, all the while encouraged by the occasional motorcycle track that went nowhere. At this point we were chasing the waning sunlight of our ever shorter days so I looked for ways to shorten our loop back to our vehicle. We still had a steep two miles until we topped out with the sun low on the horizon.


Navigating the roads through the Pine Nuts requires local, on the ground knowledge. I felt lucky that our return loop got us back to our start without us needing to hike up extraordinarily steep and loose trails. As it turned out we got to descend them. The twisting ATV/jeep roads were fun and challenging to follow. But if our loop had been in the reverse orientation the ride would have been much slower and less fun. Our distraction in Sullivan Cyn led Dean to skip lunch. His energy levels were falling off on the climbs, while I just thought he was enjoying the views.

Looking east to the shoulders of Lyon Peak where our last trip through the Pine Nuts took us


The area above Sullivan Canyon is rich in mining prospects and would be fun for any rock hound. As it stands Eldorado Cyn gets our vote for the best passage into the Pine Nut Mountains. The moderately technical climb through great floral and geological diversity is very entertaining. The next two routes to explore will be Brunswick Canyon Rd and the Churchill Narrows.

 Near Fiddlers Green

A link to the ride is here.

3 thoughts on “Sullivan Canyon Rd, The Pine Nut Mountains

  1. Pingback: Ride Report; Brunswick Cyn, Pine Nut Mtn Range | Bikepacking Northern Nevada

  2. pokey

    Sullivan canyon is open again. Just got back from riding through it. A couple of old guys with dirt bikes opened it up a couple months ago.

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