A friend of mine proposed a route that included a section of the Pah Rah Range from Mullen Pass, near the Pyramid Lake overlook, off NV 445, to Palomino Valley reconnecting to NV 445 off Whiskey Springs Rd. I rode this area when visiting Virginia Peak, but not on this exact route. As a result I got to explore another chunk of the Pah Rah’s with its own hidden canyons, creeks and wildlife plus great views of Pyramid Lake.
I made this a loop from Whiskey Springs Road and Pyramid Highway. The entrance to Palomino Valley has great views of Dogskin Mtn, the Virginia Mtns, and the Pah Rah Range. This is one of my favorite places to ride, close proximity to Reno/Sparks with a great variety of dirt roads to explore. From the start it was 10 miles of NV 445, Pyramid Lake Hwy, to the dirt turn-off that led to Mullen Creek.
With hindsight I would not use this turn-off in the future. This road requires three gates and route scouting where Mullen Creek makes the road impassable. The alternative is to use Quail Canyon Rd about three miles back. Quail Canyon Rd is well maintained until the turn off to the Quail Canyon Ranch main property then it becomes steep and rocky.
The climbing is relentless but the views are rewarding. I took advantage of breaks along the way to photograph Pyramid Lake, creeks that were flowing enough to be heard from a distance, and rugged geology. I did have to hike several sections that were too steep and rocky (and sustained) for the gearing on my gravel bike or for the fitness of my legs. This route would have been better handled on my Fargo with lower gearing and 27.5 Plus tires but part of my friend’s question about the route was weather or not it was appropriate for 700 x 40 tires. It definitely “goes” with a gravel bike setup.
Quail Canyon Rd gives way to Rodero Rd and Cougar Rd. Luckily these roads and a few others are easily discernible on GPS apps and devices. I was navigating by my trusty Garmin Edge Touring and I was using Ride with GPS (app for Android) for the first time. I need to spend more time exploring the features of the new (to me) app and its online companion but it seems to be a popular way to share route information.
Cougar Rd marked the ridge crest of the Pah Rah Range. The view of of Palomino Valley and Pyramid Lake was striking. And I was quite relieved to assume the lion’s share of the climbing was over. Just as the climbs were steep so was the descent. Cougar Rd gave way to Paiute Creek Rd and there were places where to road and creek now shared the same wet path.
It was a quick descent and return to the car as soon as Paiute Creek intersected with Whiskey Springs Rd. For much of the ride I could see Virginia Pk topped with the weather radar equipment. Now I can imagine a route from Wadsworth to Pond Pk to Virginia Pk exiting on Quail Canyon Rd. This would truly be a Pah Rah Range Odyssey.