The Pinyon Trail

If you’re in the Carson City area and looking to get in a quick mountain bike ride, you should add the newly constructed Pinyon Trail to your list. Located on the east side of the Carson Valley in the Pine Nut Mountains, this 5.2 mile trail circles around a large hill with spectacular views of the Pine Nut and Carson Ranges. Riders will get a good sampling of northern Nevada as they follow the twisty trail through pinyon pines (one of Nevada’s state trees) and Utah junipers.

Pinyon Trail
Pinyon Trailhead

To get to the trailhead, drive to the south end of Gardnerville, go northeast on Muller Pkwy at the intersection, and then east on Pinenut Road. Veer to the left when you get to the Dump Road, and keep to the right at the intersection of Our-R-Way Road. Trailhead parking is located 6.7 miles from HWY 395. The last 2.3 miles of the drive is on graded gravel, and small cars will be fine if the speed is kept down. The trailhead parking is a one-way design that accommodates autos and horse trailers. Parking and a trailhead kiosk are the only amenities; no water, bathrooms, or trash service. A good map is located on the Carson Valley Trails Association website HERE.

Pinyon Trail
Getting Started

The Pinyon Trail is a lollipop design, that is, it has a common entrance and exit with a loop at the top. The trail begins by climbing around the west side of the hill with wide open views of many notable peaks: Silver Peak and Raymond Peak to the south, Jobs and Monument Peaks to the West, and Slide Mountain to the North, to name a few.

Pinyon Trail
10,014 ft Raymond Peak off in the distance

After 1.1 miles, the trail reaches the loop junction. We chose to ride the 3 mile loop clockwise, but it can be ridden in either direction. When riding the trail clockwise, though, it appears that the climb is more gradual to the high point, leaving the steeper side for the descent. Riders looking for more mileage can ride the loop multiple times. Taking the loop twice extends the overall ride to about 8.2 miles.

Pinyon Trail
The loop begins

The trail maintains a gentle grade of about 5% throughout the loop for some easy climbing, and the trail surface is generally soil and mostly rock free. Switchbacks are pretty wide angled, and don’t require too much skill to get through. With its low mileage and easy riding surface, you could classify the trail as beginner singletrack if it weren’t for a couple other factors that increase the difficulty. The trail tread is fairly narrow, and is constantly turning around trees and rocks. This takes some skill and concentration from the rider, especially once the pace is increased. The trail is also cut into the steep slope of the hill at times. While this doesn’t make the trail more difficult, it can be a visual challenge for some to see the ground falling off steeply to one side. Keeping your eyes focused up ahead on the trail, though, will keep you on track.

Pinyon Trail
Trail surface is smooth, but narrow and winding

Pinyon Trail
Looking east to the Pine Nut range and Mount Siegel

Pinyon Trail
Continuous mountain views

Pinyon Trail

Pinyon Trail
Interesting rock formations

Pinyon Trail
A quick turn around the rocks

Pinyon Trail
Fun Terrain

Pinyon Trail
Smooth ribbon of singletrack

Pinyon Trail

Pinyon Trail
One of many OHV Crossings

Pinyon Trail
Slide Mountain to the Northwest, trail visible below

Pinyon Trail
Descending back to the trailhead

Pinyon Trail

Pinyon Trail 3
GPS Track of the ride

Once again, the Carson Valley Trails Association has put together another great trail. While most of their trails have been built on the west side of the valley and have more of a “Sierras” look, this one has a unique feel to it when compared to most local trails. The pinyon and juniper environment is typical of what you’ll see crossing the mountain ranges across the state, and really gives riders a Nevada impression. Beginning riders will enjoy the gentle climb and descent, while more advanced riders will have fun with all the twists and turns. It’s a great addition to the local trail collection, adding some nice variety to the mix.

Additional Information:

  • Maps, detailed driving directions, and additional information can be found on the Carson Valley Trails Association page:
  • This non-motorized single track trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and dogs.
  • Trail elevation ranges from 5,700 feet at the trailhead to about 6,060 feet at the highest point.
  • Although I don’t believe any maps exist, there are many more trails in the immediate vicinity for further exploration that are shared by motorized and non-motorized users.
  • Keep an eye out for shell fossils in the rock shale near the top.
  • While the sandy trails on the west side of the valley benefit from some moisture, the dirt in this area of the Pine Nut Mountains turns to sticky clay when wet. Some have dubbed this “gumbo mud”, and it will quickly render your bike immobile when it starts raining.

I Ride For Tacos

Here’s another video from Brent Ruybalid. This one takes place on Carson City’s east side, utilizing some of the trails that follow the Carson River up to Mexican Dam. The CX (cyclocross) bike used in the video is a hybrid of a road and mountain bike, light and fast with some off-road capabilities. Once primarily used for racing, these bikes have gained popularity off the race course for fun mixed-terrain riding as shown in the video.

I Ride For Tacos from Brent Ruybalid on Vimeo.

“In 2013 I bought a new CX bike for the race season… then I broke my clavicle before the season even started. After being off the bike for 4 months, all I wanted to do was ride my new CX rig. I called it "riding like a kid" because when I was young, this was how we did it… we jumped on our bikes and just rode wherever they would take us. I ended each of these rides by eating tacos from the truck across from Mills Park. This was filmed on one of those rides in the early spring of 2014.”

Music: "Outlaw" by The Cult

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

“Mono Lake lies in a lifeless, treeless, hideous desert, eight thousand feet above the level of the sea, and is guarded by mountains two thousand feet higher, whose summits are always clothed in clouds. This solemn, silent, sail-less sea—this lonely tenant of the loneliest spot on earth—is little graced with the picturesque. It is an unpretending expanse of grayish water, about a hundred miles in circumference, with two islands in its centre, mere upheavals of rent and scorched and blistered lava, snowed over with gray banks and drifts of pumice-stone and ashes, the winding sheet of the dead volcano, whose vast crater the lake has seized upon and occupied.” – Mark Twain – Roughing It, 1872

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Mono Lake from Conway Summit

Because of the time period, I can overlook his geographical estimations. But with all due respect to the great Mark Twain, I’ll have to disagree with his scenic assessment of Mono Lake. The sea blue-green surface of this high desert lake rests at approximately 6,383 ft above sea level, with nearby Sierra peaks like Yosemite’s 13,057 ft Mount Dana towering over 6,000 ft above the shoreline. Whether you’re viewing the basin from the highway above at Conway Summit or looking up at the Sierras from lake level, it’s the stark contrast between the desert sea and bordering snow-capped mountains that give this area its jaw-dropping beauty. And while the hypersalinity (more than twice as salty as the ocean) and high alkalinity of the lake is not a suitable habitat for fish, it still supports a unique wildlife food chain. A high population of single-celled planktonic algae feed an estimated 4–6 trillion brine shrimp. The brine shrimp and shoreline alkali flies feed nearly 2,000,000 waterbirds, including 35 species of shorebirds, that use Mono Lake to rest and eat for at least part of the year. I didn’t see any critters during my ride along the lake, but there were animal tracks all over the dunes indicating a busy nocturnal environment for the local mammals. There was also evidence of wild horses along route as well. Hardly a place you can call lifeless. But solemn, silent, lonely? Mr. Twain, I will agree with you on these points, but not in a negative light. These are the very qualities that drew me to the lake. An escape from the noise, information, and sensory overload that dominates modern life.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Road 3N05 off of SR 167

The idea for this trip was seeded in my memory last year when I saw the Bike Habitat post a photo from a ride at Mono Lake. Now that we have enough daylight to make the journey there and back (about a 4 hour drive round trip from Carson City), it was time to plan my own trip to the lake. Searching the internet I found information for the Mono Lake Fat 40 on the Fat Bike Mammoth website. This site describes a 41 mile (not 100 miles as Mark Twain suggests) route that circumnavigates Mono Lake, using a combination of dirt and paved roads. Initially I tried to talk myself into this endeavor, but later settled for an “exploration of the east shore” route, a decision I was ultimately grateful for. My abbreviated Fat 40 ride still took 6 hours over 28 miles.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Ready to Ride

After a two hour drive to Mono Lake, I stopped in Lee Vining and picked up a map at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center and Bookstore. It’s a great resource for local books and maps, and one of the only places open in Lee Vining this time of year it seemed. I went with The Mono Lake Map from Tom Harrison Maps. These maps are great for those adventuring on foot or bike, as they have details on trails, topography, and include a coordinate grid (both in lat/long and UTM) for easily finding your location using a GPS. The lady at the store first handed me the free paper tourist map, but I said it wouldn’t do, as I needed detail on the other side of the lake. She replied that east shore wasn’t really accessible. Perfect, I thought. That’s what I wanted to hear. When I told her I’d be on a mountain bike, we both agreed on the other map, and smiling, she wished me a good ride.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Entering the dunes

I left Lee Vinging north on HWY 395, then took State Route 167 around the north side of the lake, keeping an eye out for Forest Road 3N05. If you don’t have a 4-wheel drive, you’ll want to park just off the pavement before heading down 3N05. I drove south on 3N05, then east on 3N06 which cuts a narrow path through dense brush. I kept driving until I found a spot wide enough to pull off the road and park. You’ll want to use your best judgement when driving these dirt roads, as deep drifting sand periodically covers the road. It’s not a good place to get stuck.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Alkali Ponds

I brought my fat bike for this sandy ride, a mountain bike equipped with low pressure, high flotation 4-inch wide tires. I was excited to finally get my ride underway. I continued along road 3N06 as it meandered around the dunes and past alkali ponds. The dunes are pretty tall in places, and I didn’t even get a glimpse of Mono Lake for a little over five miles. The soft rolling terrain was fun to ride, even relaxing, feeling the fat tires float over the sand. This is definitely fat bike country. A regular mountain bike would not be as fun for most of this ride.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Sandy road

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

When Mono Lake finally came into view, I was surprised out how far away it was. I had imagined riding nearly along the lakeshore for most of the ride. Between me and the lake was a fence, and many yards of brush, marshland, and deep shoreline sand. Not what I had expected, but not disappointing.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
First good view of Mono Lake

Eventually I joined Forest Service road 1N54, an intersection easily found on my map. I marked these crossroads on the GPS, so I wouldn’t miss my turnoff on the way back. Just south of the crossroads was an access road out towards the lake. I explored it a short ways, but it was better suited for foot travel once it fizzled out. I returned to the main road and continued south.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Forest Service road 1N54 coming in from the north

The next section was fairly easy riding with not much to do besides pedal and enjoy the view. Easy miles. I still hadn’t seen another person or animal at this point. With all the wild horse sign on the road, I expected to see the herd at any time, but they never showed. For a brief moment, the extreme silence and sameness of the road had me thinking of turning around to explore somewhere else. It wasn’t long, though, before the terrain started to rise above the lake basin to form a long cliff, and soon I found the remains of an old cabin.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Rollin’ Along

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

The old cabin is missing a wall and nearly all the roof, with most of the debris still scattered about. The remaining walls are buttressed with large timbers to keep what’s left intact. Time is definitely not on its side. There is an interesting account of a Louis Sammann residing in a “rude cabin” near the eastern shore in the 1880s, and not far from the cabin is Sammann’s Spring. It’s possible this was his cabin.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
The Cabin

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

After leaving the cabin, the road started getting more interesting, with short climbs and descents above the cliffs. I still had no plan where I’d turn around, but I was starting to get tired and wanted to save enough energy to get back. Sammann’s Spring was not far off and close to the road, so it seemed like a good destination.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

When I arrived at the location of Sammann’s Spring on my GPS, the brush was really tall and thick, presumably from the extra ground water in the area. I couldn’t find a suitable path through the brush, and not wanting to get all scratched up, decided to halt my search for the spring. Instead, I headed back north to explore a side road that appeared to head towards the lake and some tufa formations.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

At the end of the road, I hopped off the bike and explored the tufa. Mono Lake’s calcium-carbonate tufa formations were formed by the interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. These unique formations are surrounded by a wet marsh in this area. I started to hike down a path through the reeds with the intention of visiting the shoreline, but then a voice in my head reminded me that it was probably time to start heading back. There were still 14 miles to ride, and I definitely wanted to make it back before the sun went behind the mountains.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Tufa and closest point to the lake of my trip

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Reeds of the marsh

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

There was a lot less exploring and sight seeing on the way back. I stopped often for food and water, glad that I had mounted the extra bottles on my bike for the ride. With the towering Sierras always to the west, it’s easy to tell direction while in the basin. But since the area is so big, I imagined my vehicle as just another unseen speck far off in the distance behind some random sand dune. Even with few roads and my own tracks to follow back, I was thankful for my GPS to help me keep track of where I was out in the desert expanse.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

When I reached the dunes again I was near the end of my ride. The allure to get back to the vehicle and and on the road was strong, but I just had to see if the dunes were rideable on the fat bike. I veered off the road and climbed up onto the dunes, surprised at how well the tires floated on top of the sand. Climbing easily to the top, I was rewarded with a view across the lake with the setting sun lighting up the snowy mountains. A whole playground of terrain was available here, but I was really out of time. I reluctantly made just a few fun runs through the dunes, then headed back to the road. Next time I return, I’ll be sure to save more time for this area.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Dunes
Riding the dunes

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride

Mono Lake Fat Bike RideThe White Mountains

Mono Lake Fat Bike RideLooking to the east from Conway Summit

I was happy to make it back to the vehicle and change into some dry warm clothes, and even happier that I was able to get turned around without getting stuck in the sand! I gathered up the rest of my food and water and made the two hour drive back to Carson City feeling tired but content.

Mono Lake Fat Bike Ride
Leaving Mono Lake

Mono Lake
Google Earth view of the ride


  • More photos of this ride here on Flickr.
  • Fat Bike Mammoth. A good resource for rides in this area as well as a GPS file of the route around the lake on request.
  • Looking for more fun things to do at Mono Lake? Hike up to the Black Point Fissures on the northwest side of the lake.
  • During the summer, visit the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center near Lee Vining.
  • The Mono Lake Map from Tom Harrison Maps
  • The Mono Lake Committee Information Center and Bookstore in Lee Vining is a good year-round resource for books, maps, information, and even water.
  • There is cell phone service periodically along the east side of the lake, but because of the remoteness, it’s best to carry a repair kit, extra food and water, and warm clothes for changing weather conditions. I didn’t see another person my entire ride, so you can’t count on a passerby to help you out.

Connecting the Canyons

With the mild winter we’ve had out West, it hasn’t been much of a challenge to ride all year. Trails that are normally buried in snow in February are in perfect shape for riding, and it hasn’t been uncommon to ride in shorts and t-shirts. This has given trail builders a head start at completing the Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon trail, and allowed many riders and hikers to get a sneak peek at what this new trail has to offer. If you haven’t had a chance to see the trail yet, here’s an excellent video from Brent Ruybalid that gives you a good feel for what it’s like to ride it.

Connecting the Canyons from Brent Ruybalid on Vimeo.

Finishing touches on the trail are being completed by Muscle Powered and the City, including finishing the Ash Canyon bridge, trail kiosks, and signage. As long as winter doesn’t return with a vengeance, it shouldn’t be much longer before the trail has its grand opening! When the trail is officially completed, more information, statistics, and details will be posted to help you plan your ride. In the meantime, here are some more photos of the trail:

Ash Canyon Bridge
New trail kiosk on the Ash Canyon side

Ash Canyon Bridge
Ash Canyon bridge almost complete

Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon trailhead

Ash to Kings Canyon Trail
View of Carson City from the trail

Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail
High point of the ride

Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon
Crossing an upper Kings Canyon waterfall

Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon
A ride through the woods

Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon
View of Washoe Valley from the trail

Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon
Your own personal roller coaster!

A Google Earth view of the trail

This trail was made possible largely in part to Recreational Trails Program grants secured through Nevada State Parks!

Snow Biking at Red Lake

After a long wait with much anticipation, I finally got a chance to take the new fat bike out for its first snow ride. Acting on a tip that there was good snow cover with several miles of snow machine tracks up near Carson Pass, I loaded the bike up in the car and headed up to Red Lake on Highway 88.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
Getting started at Red Lake

As I left the Carson Valley and made the drive up to Carson Pass, the thermometer in my car started climbing. Just above freezing in the valley below, it was now in the upper 40s as I passed Hope Valley! The incoming storm was bringing warm air in from the southwest, and I worried it would ruin the snow conditions. When I arrived at Red Lake, I found ample, plowed parking along the side road to the dam. I unloaded my fat bike with its 4″ wide tires aired down to 6 PSI, and headed down the snowy road to the south.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
Stay Limit 14 Days – Should have enough time

I started off really slow down the road, not sure what to expect from the warming snow. Not wiping out in the first 10 feet, I let off the brakes and let it ride. Numerous snow machine tracks packed the snowy road down nicely, its corrugated surface providing additional traction for my knobbies. A few of the big icy puddles made me nervous as I skirted around them. There was no way to tell how deep the puddles were, but I knew for sure I didn’t want to fall in one.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
Creek Crossing

As the road got steeper, the soft snow started taking its toll on me. I had to rest a lot, and I ended up pushing the bike often. There were even a few times when I considered heading back to the car to trade the bike for the snowshoes I had brought as a backup plan. Being in the woods with no real views, though, the allure of wanting to see what was around the next corner or over the next hill kept me going. I knew I’d be rewarded if I persisted.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
6 PSI in the Fat Tires!

Soon the road climbed steeply, and views of the area began opening up. It also started getting colder as I gained elevation, and the snow became firmer. The bike was now climbing even the steepest hills, the trail requiring less effort and less walking. More fun, less toil.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
One of the frequent breaks along the climb

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
View of Elephants Back Peak

I eventually made it up to an open bowl with spectacular views. The rugged mountains of the Mokelumne Wilderness to the west, Hope Valley to the north. I wanted to continue climbing south to the pass to see Blue Lakes and the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, but the wind from the incoming storm was really starting to pick up. Blowing snow was pelting me in the face, and a couple of the wind gusts hit me so hard it turned me and the bike around 180 degrees! Further exploration into the backcountry would have to wait until next time.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
Starting to get windy!

Before starting my descent, I decided to push my bike a little further up the snowy bowl. It reminded me of being a kid and taking the toboggan as far up the hill as I could for the longest run possible. Slowly up I went, digging my boots into the snow for traction. As steep as it was, I thought it’d be a miracle if I didn’t go over the handlebars on the way down!

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
Time for some downhill!

It was time for some downhill. Time to see if all the effort to haul this big bike to the top was worth it. I hopped on the bike and quickly got my weight back so the front tire wouldn’t dive into the snow. I was off and rolling, slow at first to build confidence, then whoosh! down the powdery bowl back to the main road.

View of Hope Valley to the north

Once on the main road and onto the hard packed snow the real fun began. Traction and flotation were at maximum, and I was flying down the trail. Over the hills, around the corners, and through the trees I sped. I felt I could have gone even faster, but couldn’t shake the image of doing the superman over the handlebars if the front wheel suddenly sunk in.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
What a great descent!

After I dropped a few hundred feet of elevation, I was back into the warm snow. It went from total control to riding through freshly mashed potatoes in an instant. I kept the bike upright, but a lot of energy was expended trying to find balance and fight the sloppy ruts. Finally, near the bottom, the front tire washed out, and I went down in what felt like a slow motion lean, with a full body roll into the soft forgiving snow for the finale.

Fat Bike ride from Red Lake
Almost back

I swapped out my wet gloves for some dry warm ones, then made the final slow-going ride to the trailhead. The snow had warmed up considerably since the way in, so even the flats required a really low gear to keep moving forward. By the time I made it back to the trailhead, it was 50 degrees out! The day’s ride was definitely a good learning experience about how temperature affects the riding conditions. After only six miles of riding, I was worn out. Although I still consider the ride a success, I’ll make sure it is near freezing the next time I go out (which will be soon!).

Red Lake
The Route

Planning tips if you go:

The mountains, especially in the winter, can be unpredictable, so be prepared. Short daylight hours and rapidly changing weather conditions warrant carrying more gear with you than a summer time mountain bike ride. Here are a few planning tips:

  • Let someone else know where you’re going, including possible alternative destinations, and what time you plan to be back. Often you won’t have phone service in the backcountry.
  • Get an early start to maximize your daylight hours and get the best weather conditions. When planning for how much time you need to complete your adventure, add on another hour or two…it usually takes longer than you think it will.
  • It’s a good idea to carry with you the 10 Essentials. This includes items such as a map and compass (or GPS), extra insulating and water/wind proof clothing, a headlamp or flashlight, first-aid supplies, fire starter, extra food and water (or a way to treat water in the backcountry…eating snow can cool down your body and lead to hypothermia).
  • Quick-drying synthetic fabrics and wool clothing will keep you comfortable, dry and warm. Cotton clothing, especially jeans, get wet easily and stay wet. This can quickly lead to hypothermia.  Waterproof hiking boots and gaiters work good on and off the bike.
  • Many mountain bikers are using clipless pedals these days with specialized cycling shoes. This setup won’t buy you much (if anything) in the snow, and only complicates things when you need to stay warm and dry, and hike in the snow. Also, clipless pedals tend to pack up with snow, and it can be hard to click into them (or out of them in a crash!). BMX style flat pedals work good with hiking boots.
  • There is no fee to park at Red Lake, and the entrance is usually plowed. Many of the other trailhead parking locations in this area and around Tahoe require a California SNO-PARK permit, so plan ahead. Some of the SNO-PARK areas are snowmobile friendly, which mean they’re also good for fat bikes.
  • Check the Sierra Avalanche Center website for the latest safety conditions.
  • You can run really low pressure in your fat bike tires when riding in the snow, and this will maximize flotation. I was at 6 PSI, but I’ve heard of people going even lower…especially with the 5 inch wide tires.

Screening of Singletrack High

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Doug Bedient 775-690-9420 or Kevin Joell 775-233-5419

Incline Village, NV – The Nevada High School Cycling League is hosting a new documentary film about the sport of high school mountain biking. Recently added as one of the emerging leagues of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the Nevada League will be officially launching a league race series in Fall of 2016. A handful of demonstration races to get more kids involved will be planned in 2015.

singletrack high poster

“SingleTrack High”, produced by Pedal Born Pictures, follows a diverse group of high school student-athletes through the 2012 mountain bike racing season in the NorCal High School Cycling League. For Eliel, high school bike racing is a competitive outlet at the highest level. For Carlos, it is a means to escape the rough neighborhoods of South Sacramento. For Mackinzie and Allie, it is a chance to break into a sport traditionally dominated by the boys. These are some of the kids of “SingleTrack High,” Through their experiences, the film explores the positive impact high school mountain biking can have on boys and girls alike, from all walks of life.

Filmmaker Jacob Seigel-Boettner, who produced the film with his brother Isaac, said, “Even as former high school and collegiate cyclists, it was an eye-opener for us to see the impact that racing in the NorCal League has had on these kids. Being part of a high school mountain bike team has helped them find acceptance, accept themselves, and expand their worlds.”

There will be two screenings hosted in Northern Nevada. On Tuesday, December 2 at the Brookfield School, 6800 S. McCarran Blvd in Reno and Wednesday, December 3 at the Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King Street in Carson City. Cost is $5 for adults with no charge for teachers or educators and kids under 18. Doors open at 6pm with the movie starting at 7pm.

Ticket sales benefit the Nevada League and 100% of the proceeds support our mission of providing safe, quality high school mountain bike programs for student-athletes and teams from public, charter and private schools throughout the state. Immediately following the movie there will be a presentation about the future of the Nevada League and how to get students, parents, coaches and teachers involved.

Who: Nevada High School Cycling League

What: SingleTrack High Film Screenings

When and Where:

Tuesday, December 2 @ 7pm @ Brookfield School, Reno


Wednesday, December 3 @ 7pm @ Brewery Arts Center, Carson City

Cost: $5 for adults, free for teachers and kids under 18.

Washoe Lake Night Ride

A few years of below average snowfall has rendered Washoe Lake a small pond. It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally Washoe Lake will disappear completely in such conditions. After a recent hike out onto the dry lake bed to investigate the conditions, I realized what a fun ride it’d be to explore the area on fat bikes while we had the chance. It also happened that our first window to do the ride came about during the evening after the sun went down.

Washoe Lake Fall 2014
Daytime view of Washoe Lake

We parked in a small pullout along the south shore of the lake, turned on the GPS to help us find our starting point on the way back, and then scrambled down the bank to the high water mark. Just past a 6 foot wide sandy beach we pushed through some willows and down onto the weed covered lake bed. We pedaled through the crunchy weeds for a couple hundred yards, keeping an eye on the tires for stickers. Quickly we were out to where the water had receded more recently and onto the dried mud.

Washoe Lake nighttime Fat Bike ride

After riding for a time on the hard pack, we got out to an area where the mud was dried and separated by big cracks. Although dry on top, the cobble-like chunks floated on gooey mud underneath. It was a very strange sensation riding over this area, with each individual chunk of mud moving and sliding its own direction. The bikes felt wiggly, almost like all the spokes were loose. I actually had to stop once and make sure my tires hadn’t gone flat from the weeds before.

Washoe Lake nighttime Fat Bike ride

As we headed north, we could see the lights from the freeway to the west and Reno to the north. We also used the ground to keep us on track. If there were too many weeds, we knew we were drifting too far towards the shoreline. Too muddy, too close to the water.

Washoe Lake nighttime Fat Bike ride

Eventually we decided to break to the northeast. We weren’t sure how far we’d gone north, and weren’t sure where we’d end up. After a while, we began to see the silhouettes of the east shore trees. Just as we were discussing where we might be, a picnic table appeared in the darkness ahead. By chance, we had made a random straight line to exactly where we trying to go! We stopped for a rest and a beer at the picnic table before returning to the south.

Washoe Lake nighttime Fat Bike ride

The east side of the lake is quite a bit different than what we’d already ridden. Sand dunes border the shoreline, and the water is closer. With the lack of any recent weather events to smooth them out, the dunes were pretty choppy with horse prints. We headed southwest towards the water, but when we got too close, we were met with the repelling stench of stagnant water. We found a happy medium between the two zones, and had a nice cruise picking our way through the terrain.

Washoe Lake nighttime Fat Bike ride

Once past the lake area, the ground firmed up and smoothed out again. We decided to turn off the lights for a while and let our eyes adjust to the darkness. The moon was not up yet, so we almost had to look directly at the ground to see any detail. We kept this up for nearly a mile, then went back to lights mode.

Washoe Lake nighttime Fat Bike ride

As we approached the end of our ride, we began an effort to find our vehicles in the dark. Along the way we scared up a herd of deer bedded down in the bushes. It was pretty cool to see all those eyes watching us in our lights. I examined the tire tracks I was leaving, and realized  they were really faint. I decided it was highly probable that I had ridden right past our tracks from the beginning of the ride. Finally I had to consult the GPS to see where we were at, and discovered we had overshot the trailhead by about a quarter mile. We didn’t get as lucky as we did with the boat ramp!

Washoe Lake
Our Route

The loop we made was about 8.5 miles. Some of the terrain was like nothing I had ridden before, and riding it at night made it all the more adventurous. I’m glad we got the opportunity to do this ride when we did, because it won’t be long before the lake bed becomes too muddy or refills with water. If this looks fun to you, get out there and do it soon!