My first experience on Soldier Meadows Rd was our Reno Bike Project staff retreat in 2015. We drove out in the dark, set up camp, but woke up in a surreal landscape. Ever since that trip I have been tracing Soldier Meadows Rd in satellite view on my computer wanting to get back there. But I must say the images I had in my head based on what I saw on the computer screen had me less than enthused to spend hours grinding out that road. But it is such a significant route in the area I had to go!
Raymond Eliot and I made the drive through Gerlach and north on SR 34 to the Soldier Meadows turn-off. When the pavement ends the adventure begins. Raymond and I have many adventures chronicled here, the biggest being our trip along Smoke Creek Desert. Choosing a riding partner has as much to do with compatibility on the ride as with the 4+ hours in the car and deciding which bar to stop at after the ride (although on this trip Bruno’s Country Club was the only choice).
Rolling out was far more eye-opening than I had imagined. We were above Hualapai Flat and Fly Ranch as well as a wet Black Rock Desert. Ahead of us were the Calico Hills behind us the Granite Range. The road was in excellent condition. Although we were on mountain bikes, gravel bikes would have been great. The vastness of the landscape is apparent as distant features advance very slowly. It was great recognizing familiar features across the playa such as the Selenite Range, Old Razorback Mountain, and Black Rock Point.
We turned off the road to climb up to Jackass Flats. This was our turn-around distance for the day. Twenty-five miles in, 25 miles out, reasonable days journey. There were so many side options to explore. While we were on the edge of wilderness defined as roadless tracts there were the occasional roads that brought you into the wilderness and then at that point you could explore on foot. There were options to cross the playa to Black Rock Point and now that is on the “must-do” list. I will get back here to loop the Calico Mtns Wilderness at some point.
On our drive back we stopped in at our familiar watering hole, Bruno’s Country Club. After Bruno’s passing the bar had been remodeled. I am not a big fan of change but the Picon Punch was just as refreshing.