Day Trip; Kumiva Valley to Lava Beds Loop

Jungo Rd, imagine the Black Rock Desert playa on your left and the Selenite Mountains Wilderness Study Area on your right

I was first introduced to Kumiva Valley when crossing over the Selenite Range just north of Kumiva Peak. I traced the valley to Jungo Road at the base of the Black Rock Desert. I tried the road into Kumiva Valley in June of 2017 with Brandon Anderson in an attempt to escape a rainy Reno. Unfortunately we made it less than 8 miles south before the road was too muddy to pass. It were rides on Jungo Road like what I did with Brandon in October of 2017 seeing basalt columns in the Lava Beds area that got me intrigued with the potential of a loop in the area. And so this route was born; 85 miles through Kumiva Valley, turning east between Dry Mountain and the Blue Wing Mountains, then turning north at the Seven Troughs Range, crossing the Lava Beds, before returning to Jungo Rd at Pahsupp Mtn.

First light behind Old Razorback Mountain
Moonrise, Sunrise – should be a spectacular day

So many rides begin with an o’dark:30 drive. I am getting accustomed to this drive, gassing up at Loves Truck Stop before driving north through Wadsworth and Nixon to Gerlach, the gateway to the Black Rock Desert. Even though it is pitch black out I can see the landscape in my mind’s eye. This time I turned-off of NV 447 on Jungo Rd just before the first shades of red were appearing on the horizon. Temperatures were mild, hovering at the freezing mark. The ground was damp, I was relying on no significant mud as our clay has peanut butter qualities when wet.

Conditions were great and the first twenty miles flew by. Sunrise on the snow covered Selenite Range was highly anticipated and it did not disappoint. There is a playa at the base of the Bluewing Mountains that has caught my eye on several rides but today it was covered in valley fog. Between the Sahwave and Bluewing Mountains is Juniper Pass, also on my list of routes to ride and I was passing the closest ever.

Twin Buttes in the fog mixed with early morning light, an unexpected effect
Cows at the water troughs, Purgatory and Kumiva Peaks, Mt Limbo Wilderness Study Area, Selenite Range

I had picked Twin Buttes and Twin Buttes Well as a landmark reference. The well was marked by two water troughs and a scatter of cows. In the distance I could hear wild burros braying. I saw three together a few miles further. Consistent with past experience they leerily kept their distance.

Descent into Granite Springs Valley, Seven Troughs Range ahead
Above Granite Spring Wash, Seven Troughs Mtn 7473′
My one wildlife shot, a lone ass

After a short descent into Granite Springs Valley I turned north between the Lava Beds and the Seven Troughs Range. At this crossroads there are more adventures to be had, I could go through the Seven Troughs Range to Vernon and explore the Seven Troughs Mining District or turn south to the Trinity Range including Ragged Top Road. Every ride spawns several for the future.

My first glimpse of the area’s rock formations

From here I turned into the Lava Beds. I was expecting dark rocks strewn about basalt columns, like I had seen from Jungo Rd. Instead I saw miles of light colored exposed rock like what is at Moon Rocks and in the Virginia Mountains. The difference being these rock outcroppings went for miles. I imagine there is a great potential for bouldering, jeep rock crawling, and trials motorcycle/bicycle riding. But its remoteness insulates the area from too much development.

An outdoor rock climbing gym!
Stock ponds, water troughs, and corals, this is Sheep Head Spring

As I climbed above 5000′ on my way to 6100′ and mud and snow became an issue. I aired down my tires to single digits and continued the best I could. The changing conditions had me hiking and biking but it was reasonable in comparison to my last rides. The sculpted rocks and ranchers efforts to make this sagebrush grasslands habitable for livestock kept me entertained.

Dead Horse Canyon
Trail Canyon

The entire ride had me passing canyons to explore. I was not anticipating the Lava Beds to be a feature that rose 1,900′ from the valley floor with an internal valley covered in slick rock to climbable rock features.

Turning onto Jungo Rd I had so many options. Starting and ending at Trego Hot Springs would have been wise.

The route along Lava Beds Creek to Jungo Rd was pocked with cow tracks making the ride rough. I passed a large flock of sheep being protected by a handful of large dogs. They followed me until I was well past the flock. Turning onto Jungo Rd I knew my ride was coming to an end.

As the day started, the last light from behind Old Razorback Mountain

By the numbers this route was 85 miles with 4,500′ of climbing. With exception of the muddy snowy hike-a-bike the roads were fast. The long valley segments were relatively flat and easy to navigate. The distance felt surprisingly manageable. I spent nearly 12 hours round trip and according to my Garmin I was moving about 10 of those hours. This loop could be done as an overnight. With that side trips to explore the canyons or hikes about the rocks could be included. The USGS maps indicate many more springs in the area so safe water is filterable. Looking at the various crossroads I could see even expanding this tour to several days to include the Seven Troughs Range and beyond.

I found myself saying as I was climbing into the Lava Beds, I am leaving the valley entering the mountains, now the adventure begins.

I was told this is
Bird’s Nest Buckwheat. The brilliant red caught my eye
A sea of sagebrush, in the distance the Black Rock Desert playa is blue with water

4 thoughts on “Day Trip; Kumiva Valley to Lava Beds Loop

  1. 85 miles in 12 hours is an impressive grind. Especially with all the elevations gained in mud and snow. This time of the year, the stars are especially clear and bright, so consider adding an overnight element to the same trip. To lay out in winter in a sleeping bag and gaze into a field of stars so bright it lights up the hills like moonlight is awesome. Keep on ridin’.

  2. Pingback: Day Trip; Seven Troughs Range and Ghost Towns – Bikepacking Northern Nevada

  3. Pingback: Black Rock Desert Project: Jungo Rd to Jackson Creek Ranch Rd – Bikepacking Northern Nevada

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s