September 9, 2019 Day trips serve the great purpose of getting me back to an area to ride the bits I skipped over on my last ride. It is unrealistic to think you can really ride and explore the roads of a mountain range in even a few visits. So after I did a loop through the Shoshone Mountains from Elkhorn Pass to Ione I made a mental list of roads I wanted to get back to.
Before Elkhorn Pass I saw a numbered forest service road to check out. I followed a two-track, grass-up-the-middle, across the low shoulder/saddle of the Shoshone Mountains around rock outcroppings between Upper and Lower Cole Camp Springs. Once I was in the trees I followed Birchim Creek to an arbitrary turn-around point. There were a few more miles of jeep trail to follow beyond where I turned around.
Back on Elkhorn Rd I descended Elkhorn Canyon to Reese River Rd. This was all familiar, but I was looking for those roads I had passed up on my last visit. The next faint two-track took me into Devil’s Gate Canyon. The jeep trail ended in a craggy spot that one could continue on foot but not on bike. I did notice that my SPOT GPS tracker could not send out a signal from here. This was just a reminder that satellite communication is not fool proof and narrow/deep canyons could pose a limitation.
My next road to follow could be considered a high road if I arbitrarily set the distinction as a road that takes me above 9,000′. But what I especially liked about this road is that is crosses the range. And it follows a creek. It did so in a beautiful manner. There was a fork in this road that I have not explored fully. As I climbed I remember the spot where I had turned around on my last visit, beyond that I was on new trail.
I climbed through a beautiful pinon-juniper forest before the canyon opened into a wide basin rimmed with peaks between 8,800′ and 9,500′. It was a steep climb to the rim, but there was the neatest little diverted spring at the top. Water in the desert never ceases to amaze me. But I always ride as if there is none.
Over the crest I went from ranching interests to mining interests. I followed the road to Gold Park, a ghost town from the late 1800’s. From there I descended the craggy Gold Park and Park Creek Canyons. There was also the option of descending War Eagle Canyon. Once I was in the Ione Valley it was a familiar cruise back to my car off SR 722.
Between Elkhorn Pass and Ione I might be approaching exploring half of the forest service roads. There appears to be almost as many roads in the short distance between Ione and Berlin.
The more I look at the Shoshone Mountains the more I see it has to offer. According to measures of the longest mountain ranges in Nevada the Shoshone Mountains rank 4th. I am sure there is dispute in how land forms are measured and named but nonetheless the Shoshone Mountains (and contiguous but ambiguous Shoshone Range) stand alongside the Schell Creek Range, Toiyabe Range, and Ruby Mountains as the longest in Nevada. Although for 2020 I am focusing my efforts on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation I will be spending more time in 2020/21 in the Shoshones.