How many times have I driven past the iconic Hazen Market? Whatever the number, it is only a fraction of the number of photos of this Alt-Highway 50 (Old Lincoln Highway, Reno Highway) landmark I have seen. It is interesting to railroad buffs (founded in 1903 as a Union Pacific station), history buffs (Nevada’s last lynching, 1905), but I was interested in the Hot Springs Mountains that separated Lahontan Valley and Carson Sink in the south from The Forty Mile Desert in the north.
I made the quick drive to Hazen by sunrise to give me the day to explore The Hot Spring Mountains. I had mentally prepared a map around the mountains but was willing to adjust my ride depending on what I came across. I started out in blowing snow with limited visibility. I picked a road that seamed to be looping back far too early in the ride (plus the road was in too good of condition, I wanted a challenge). So I picked an unlikely road to explore. It was primarily a quad trail up a wash. I was prepared for it to be a bust but it kept climbing into the mountain.
I descended into a snow filled hanging valley. The road was soft sand but mixed with snow it was ridable. As I climbed the far and of the valley I realized the mountains were home to dunes. ATV riders had discovered this too but I was surprised. I assume as water brought sediments into the Carson, Fernley and Humboldt sinks the prevailing winds carried the sand to create these and other dunes in the area. The USGS maps show these dunes so I assume they are well established.
I started a steep sandy descent to the northeast. I was really hoping the road I was following would connect through to the road I was hoping to follow along the Forty Mile Desert. I did not want to hike-a-bike to retrace my ride back to passable roads. As good fortune would have it I was treated to a fun downhill ride over rock and sand to the road I had pictured in my head.
My return route had washed out in several places. Jeep users had created go-arounds for the worst wash-outs. I was very pleased to be on this road. I had ridden a parallel route on the other side of the sink and had hoped this road existed. Once I made it back to my vehicle I realized what a great day I had exploring by the seat-of-my-pants. I followed the road I was on until I found a road that looked interesting, and let that lead me to the next. I would like to make the bigger loop around the Hot Springs Mountains and possibly connect to the West Humboldt Range. Not surprising there appears to be miles of minor roads throughout the mountains and a variety of geological formations to explore.