Day Trip; Through the Pine Grove Hills

Pine Grove Hills
Gorgeous forest

Most of what I write about are short half day outings. These are exploratory routes that I imagine can be linked together or expanded upon to suite anyone’s needs. I plan them  in particular areas but occasionally stumble across “lines on the map.” These write-up get filed under “Ride Reports.” To me these are the most basic bike tour. The next level of outing is the day trip. The planning and organization is somewhere between a half day trip and an overnighter. Day trips tend to be solo as it can be hard to convince a riding partner to commit to a full-day-plus in the car and on the bike.

Dawn on Sweet Water Range, Nye Canyon
Leaving the car for a great day’s adventure

The canyons off the Sweetwater Rd, NV 338, have intrigued me after using this highway as an alternative to US 395, between Topaz Lake and Bridgeport, CA.  I have camped and fished along Desert Creek in the Wellington Hills on the west side of the highway. Now I know I must link these two areas in a bigger trip.

Nye Canyon, traverse to Sand Canyon
Not very good advertising

I picked Nye Canyon “off the map” as it was a prominent line on the map that seemed to branch into many options to explore. My choices are often just this haphazard. The drive was about 90 miles south of Reno so I left early enough to arrive at the canyon as the day was breaking. The conditions were great. I appreciated the signage both in the names of the canyons and the forest service road carsonites. I picked a route that went through an impressive pine grove. I must be in the right place. I climbed into the snow bellow Bald Mountain. I was close to the wilderness boundary and the end of the road when I turned around because of the deep soft snow. I could look into the Pine Grove Flat valley to the east, it looked warm and inviting. The jagged peaks of the Sweetwater Range were enchanting.

Looking back at Nye Canyon
Great conditions at sunrise
Always choices, Pine Grove Hills
Following Nye Canyon route to Bald Mtn
Sweetwater Range from Pingrove Hills
Climbing to Bald Mtn looking at the Sweetwater Range
Bald Mtn, Pine Grove Hills
This is getting interesting
Bald Mtn, Edge of Wokova Wilderness
Turn around point, 8,800′
Bald Mtn Trail, Pine Grove Hills
Descending to warmer terrain
Sweet Peak Trail, Bald Mtn
A bit muddy here, Pine Grove Hills
Lake beds, Pine Grove Hills
Junction of Bald Mtn Trail and Sweet Pk Trail

I back tracked to the main trail fork. I climbed Dead Ox Canyon. It was sandy but passable with wider than average tires. As I was climbing the dry and sandy road I turned a corner to find the road a sheet of ice. The water of Dead Ox Spring had frozen solid across the trail at this one cold spot on the mountain.

Last of the ice age, Pine Grove Hills
The road turned to ice
Surprise icy road
From dry/damp sand to this… Dead Ox Canyon, Pine Grove Hills

At the saddle bellow Pine Grove Summit I was faced with crossroads. Again by chance and picking a prominently marked route I descended into the ghost town of Rockland.  Rockland Canyon dropped precipitously to the valley bellow. I had some reservations in that I did look forward to climbing back up the canyon if this proved to be the best route back to my vehicle. These doubts are common when exploring a new area.

Descent into Rockland
Very steep and a long way down to the valley bellow
Rockland mining structure
Fixer upper, Rockland mines
Colapsed Rockland
Closed mines for your safety, Rockland
Welcome to OZ, Rockland, Pingrove Hills
Hard rock mining

Once in Pine Grove Flat I felt overcome with “explorers fever”. Like the mountaineers desire to reach the summit at all cost, I started looking around the Cambridge Hills roads knowing they were separating me from the Walker River and beyond. But I have to reel in my ambitions to plan my crossing the Pine Grove Hills to get back to my vehicle. I started my loop to the north but found myself questioning if I had the return climb left in my legs. In all reality I did. But I decided to stay low and loop around the hills following the most prominent roads.

Rancher's heaven
I was distracted to ride off in every direction
Pine Grove Flats looking north
I was so tempted to see what was on the edges of the map
Potential renturn route through Pine Grove site
A bit intimidated by the elevation to return back over the “hills”
Range land, Pine Grove Flats
Such potential to ride

I passed the road that climbs to the ghost town of Pine Grove. But I was intimidated by the steep mountain walls. I worked my way to the north and was pleased to see signage with mileage to Scotts and Mickey Canyons. These are areas to explore on a future trip. I was a little disappointed  assuming I would have to finish my ride on the highway. I climbed one road hoping it might connect me to a network of roads through the hills but it petered out to a game trail I was unable to follow. But eventually I was able to turn onto Hudson-Aurora Rd. which brought me most of the way back to the car on dirt.

Mickey Canyon, Pine Grove Hills
I super appreciate signs in the wilderness
Route to the north of Pine Grove Hills
I chose the longer flatter route home
Choices near the end of the ride, Pine Grove Hills
Route decision time, late in the ride
Sonora Emigrant Trail Marker, Pine Grove Hills
I love finding these
Looking East, Pine Grove Hills
Heavy skies
Popular OHV, Mickey Canyon, Pine Grove Hills
Reminded me of Death Valley
End of the road, Pine Grove Hills
I was hoping for a road into the hills to link up with Nye Canyon. Maybe if I were a deer.

I finished at twilight and and felt very accomplished by the day’s journey. I looked at what I carried with me and thought I need to cut it by 1/2. I wore a typical cycling kit plus knee warmers. I carried and wore when necessary a windshirt (Sherpa Shirt by Marmot), a waterproof shell (Alterra Jacket by Belwether), a windbreaker (Hoodini by Patagonia), a wind vest, appropriate head gear and several pair of gloves by varying weights. I have a fairly comprehensive first aid kit, bike repair kit, as well as 4.5 L of water.  I really need to optimize what I carry.

What I carried, Pine Grove Hills
Three jackets and a vest, time for critical thinking.

One thought on “Day Trip; Through the Pine Grove Hills

  1. Pingback: Ride Report; Loop through Pine Grove Hills | Bikepacking Northern Nevada

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