High Roads Project Part 6; Sonoma Peak 9,396′

Looking across to Sonoma Canyon, East Range and Humboldt Range on horizon

November 4, 2019 After finding a high road based on a friend’s tip how else could I find a high road? I was curious about wildfires this season and after finding a website that monitored wildfire cameras (I was first clued into wildfire cameras by a reader’s comment, thank you) I keyed in on a few summits such as Callaghan Peak, Prospect Peak, Fox Mountain, and Mt Lewis. And then there was just knowing telecommunications took advantage of high points in many mountain ranges and roads were needed to service those installations. From the Humboldt Range I looked at the East Range, nothing too notable. Then the next range to the east was the Sonoma Range with Sonoma Peak at 9,396′. If I put that within the list of Nevada’s Highest Roads it ranked last but was still a notably high road. There didn’t appear to be any radio towers there but there was a high mountain road.

Climbing Elbow Canyon

Toggling between satellite and USGS topo map views of the area I was able to find a road that climbed very near the peak. The roads that were apparent in satellite view did not show up on topo maps. I would drive into Grass Valley on Grass Valley Rd to Elbow Canyon to start my climb. I pulled off the road to a parking area that already had several hunters getting ready for their day. The climb was along a spring fed creek that had definitely seen some flooding and erosion from our heavy winters.

A rare saddle to rest

As I climbed I watched hunters take off onto some lower ridge lines. Oddly I didn’t see any game tracks until I was 1,000′ above them. These roads seemed to connect a variety of mining interests. There always needs to be a reason for a road. It was great to see the recreational use for these roads as well. I could look down into other canyons, such as Sonoma and Clearwater, and thought it would be great to link them.

Looking east, Edna Mountain, Buffalo Mountain, Battle Mountain, Tobin Range, the layers of Nevada

Although I hoped to find some obscure trail to Sonoma Peak the road stopped just short. But what a location, I was on a rocky ridge with a short hike to the summit if I were so inclined. But I wasn’t. I took in the views, the Tobin Range, Edna Mountain, and Bufalo Mountain all were to the east and on the edge of my cognitive map. That must be where dragons lie.

Day dreaming about the next rides through these mountains

The high roads project is motivated by finding cooler temperatures to ride in during the hot summer months. But I found so much more. I traveled to parts of Nevada that were new to me. I enjoyed late season wild flowers. I challenged myself to long steep climbs. I enjoyed vistas unique to the Nevada landscape. Nevada is the lumpiest state in the lower 48 so it makes sense to highlight these mountain roads.

Cruising above 9,000′

By the numbers this out and back was about 22 miles with 5,000′ of climbing. The vegetation was sparse, the views were fantastic and I would like to visit the various canyon around the Sonoma Range. Nevada enjoyed a warm extended fall so I was motivated to extend this high road project into November. Now it is cold and snowy so I need to start making my list of high roads for the summer of 2020.

Fall Colors, imagine the sound of the breeze through the dry Mule’s Ears
The last section of jeep trail, what a great route, looking to the next

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