With the long weekend approaching here in the United States, many coastal Californians will head inland and upland to seek the cooler temperatures found along the Tahoe basin, via US Highway 395. This zone has always been curious to me when traveling to or from various races or other events. Having ridden plenty of singletrack in the area, I’m always down to try something new, especially when it has a bit of story behind it. Last year, after our Highway 50 MTB trip and before Grinduro, I linked up with my friend Brooke and her friend Kate to ride the Sierra Canyon Trail, just outside of Genoa, Nevada.
The post-gold rush American West is very young. For a Nation that is only 243 years old, that is saying a lot. Genoa is Nevada’s oldest settlement, founded in 1851, during the peak of the great migration of settlers looking to expand their frontier. Along the Pony Express and California Trail, Genoa’s history is as a trading post town and still to this day, much of the city looks as it did back in 1851 thanks to its historical preservation. When you visit Genoa, it feels like you’ve stepped, or in this case, ridden into a time warp.
Once Brooke and Kate got off work for the afternoon, we dropped a vehicle in Genoa and drove another to the Sierra Canyon Trailhead. This trail has a descent of 3,500′ while still tacking on 1,500′ of climbing throughout the “downhill.” After two dozen or so switchbacks, through sandy turns, sage-lined meadows, and towering pines, the low country pokes its head out from the trail, revealing the town of Genoa. Dusty, parched, and with endorphins surging, Geonoa’s Victorian-lined streets offer plenty of places to eat or to have a post-ride drink. For starters, consider the Pink House or the Genoa Bar and Saloon. The Genoa Bar and Saloon was opened in 1884 and not a lot has changed since its opening day. Bikes are welcomed outside on the patio and the beverages are ice cold. Expect lots of colorful locals and road trippers to be hanging out at this wonderful dive.
When’s the best time to ride the Sierra Canyon Trail? Well, that depends, but for around 300 days a year, the trail is snow-free. Meanwhile, while the neighboring Tahoe trails are still under snowpack during most of the winter and into the early spring, the Carson Valley trails lie just under the snowline. A 22-mile detour from Lake Tahoe serves up nearly year-round riding. Hit up Carson Valley in the spring for ideal dirt, swimming holes, and cooler temps, but don’t miss out on after-work sunset shreds as we did even in the summer heat. Just watch out for rattlers! Once the fall hits, the temps drop, as do the leaves on the trees, making it a different kind of gold rush…
About the Carson Valley Trails Association:
The Carson Valley Trails Association is responsible for the sustainable development of Carson Valley’s recreational trail system. Clear Creek Trail and Sierra Canyon Trail are the jewels of the CVTA’s collaborative accomplishments. 54 miles of public trails have been created and 25,000 construction and maintenance hours have been invested, but CVTA and partners are not finished. A strategic plan that extends to 2023 has a mission of planning, building, and caring for the growing trail system. The result of all these efforts are meticulously maintained trails and great trail markers…all with a crowd-free scene that’s impossible to find this close to California. Keep the Carson Valley region on your hit list as trail developments continue to unfold.
See our ride on Strava!