Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sylvania Mountains Mountain Bike Adventure

I had been feeling a real need for adventure recently and had been pouring over maps seeking something to spark my interest. I settled on a big mountain bike ride through the Sylvania Mountains. 

Sylvania Mountains? Yes! This is a small range straddling the border of Nevada and California separating Fish Lake Valley to the north and Eureka Valley to the south. Here's the map. Apologies for the mediocre quality. Click on it to enlarge.

I started in Eureka Valley just off the Death Valley Road a mere hour's drive from home.

After climbing five miles or so up the huge alluvial fan I entered Cucomungo Canyon with big granite formations and stately Joshua Trees.

Almost all of the riding was on well graded dirt roads like this one.

Higher up, near the border, the Joshua Trees gave way to Pinyon Pines.

After nearly two and half hours of climbing I reached the first high point with Piper Peak and Palmetto Peak (left and right) in the background.

I rolled down the north slope passing several springs (water available, but would need treating) and mining shacks.

Arriving at Highway 266 and the Pigeon Springs stamp mill.

After a brief roll down 266 I turned back onto dirt to begin the climb into the heart of the Sylvania Mountains.

After starting out in a wide, gravel wash the road began climbing this sweet little mining track up to the pass.

The pass offered fine views deep into Nevada. These are Piper and Palmetto Peaks again.

And to the west I could see the Sierra (white in the distance left), the White Mountains (dark distance right) and Chocolate Peak (middle above the road).

The Sylvania Mine held all sorts of mining junk.

The long descent wound down pretty Sylvania Canyon

 eventually landing me in Fish Lake Valley with the White Mountains towering above it.

Chocolate Peak grew closer.

The left from whence I came, the right the road ahead - back to Eureka Valley.

Big open country here.

After crossing a shallow divide I very much enjoyed the descent through Willow Wash with fantastic, often colorful rock formations.

Then back to the car in Eureka Valley. This was a sight for sore legs!

Fifty miles of truly spectacular, remote riding!

I was fortunate to hit this loop in perfect condition. Several of the roads periodically wash out and would become tedious if not heinous riding - particularly Sylvania Canyon. It appeared much of the route had been graded recently and the high elevation riding (>7,000') did not involve much snow or mud since we have not had much precip this year.

If you like long, remote rides with plenty of climbing through widely varying terrain and vegetation then do this ride!

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