This ride was originally inspired by Adventure Cycling’s Bike Your Park Day, which was September 24, 2016. As a celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, Adventure Cycling’s 40th, and National Public Lands Day, riders were encouraged to take advantage of reduced park fees and get out and ride your park. Unfortunately I had a commitment on the 24th but wanted to share this ride anyway.
I did small road ride from Dayton State Park, along the Carson River, to the end of the pavement on Fort Churchill Road. This was part of the historic Pony Express route. This first ride opened my eyes to the dirt roads into the Flowery Range. So a plan was hatched, I would ride from Reno to Virginia City and descend Six Mile Canyon Rd to Dayton. Then I would continue on gravel to Fort Churchill State Historic Park.
I had a day to do this but I did not pick one with the best forecast. It was windy and northern Nevada windy is gusting over 45 miles an hour. The climbs on Old Toll Road and Geiger Grade are some of my favorites in Reno. At the entrance to Virginia City I turned on Mill St. to Six Mile Canyon Rd. As I descended I was dazzled by the changing cottonwoods which was a foreshadow of what was to come.
The adventure began when Fort Churchill Rd turned to dirt. Much of the Carson River is lined with cottonwoods. Unfortunately most of the land of the road was private blocking access to the river. There was a middle section that was public and the access looked like a great place to picnic or camp. Unfortunately I chose to turn back when my cyclometer indicated I had be out for 4 1/2 hours and 47.5 miles. I still had five miles or so to go to get to the State Park. I was afraid I was going to run out of light or legs or both on my return (I did pack lights on this ride).
While I had options to not make this such the out-and-back ride I figured my best bet for hiding from the wind was to return much of the way I came. I will be back to this area soon. A friend of mine, Billy Vicks, has photos from Churchill Butte so I must get his route information. To the south, into the Pine Nut Mountains, lies the Churchill Narrows which intrigues me as well.
I have mentioned Davis Creek Regional Park and Washoe Lake State Park as great resources for bike tourist traveling through our area. Now I must include Dayton State Park and promise to report on Nevada State Parks as I visit them. My ride map is here.