I was looking for an “easier” ride, dirt roads, proximity, and views to share with Brandon Anderson when we were not up to driving out into the desert for a full day’s ride. Fort Churchill Road from Dayton to Fort Churchill State Park seemed like a winner. I had been to this area on several rides, by myself, with Raymond Eliot, and Dean Magnuson. It is an easy drive south from Reno to Carson City/Dayton opening up great opportunities in the Carson Range, Pine Nut Mountains, and Carson River Valley. The views along the Carson River, options for additional exploration and the unique historic state park make this dirt road a great outing.
The road surface like so many routes in northern Nevada had taken its toll from our record wet winter. Although this road is well maintained, the road work left behind softer than ideal conditions as it has been a long dry summer. But the conditions were firm enough for our 700x40c tires. The fall colors, dry grasses, blooming rabbitbrush, fiery cottonwood trees, were just coming on along the river bottom.
We had a light lunch at the park and spent some time in the museum. We continued through the arrested decay of the fort’s grounds before following the Nature Trail along the river to the historic Buckland’s Station stagecoach stop. The Nature Trail had become a bit of a sandbox from the flooding of the Carson River. Mountain bikes or even plus/fat tires would have been best suited for that section.
I highly recommend this ride for its quality backroads, concentration of fall colors, unique geology/geography, and historical significance. Brandon Anderson agreed.