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  1. #1
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    TR: The Toiyabe Crest Trail (central Nevada)

    I've been doing long dual-sport motorcycle trips around NV, CA, OR, ID, and WA for years, and have always loved the "out-there" mountain ranges in central NV. On more than one trip I've ridden through the northern end of the Toiyabe range, south of Austin, and have always wanted to keep going on the nearly forgotten Toiyabe Crest Trail. It's closed to motorized vehicles, though, and I try to respect that. Last year my GF & I backpacked around the Arc Dome wilderness, which is on the south end of the range, further cementing my love for the area.

    The Toiyabe Crest Trail runs N-S for about 35 miles nearly along, and sometimes directly atop the spine of the Toiyabe range. It ranges from 7500' to 10,400', and includes about 9000' of elevation gain in that distance. Both ends of it are pretty remote, so it's not a quick hit, and there is no easy way to shuttle it. So, I decided to do it as an out-and-back.

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    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  2. #2
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    My little Toyota gained a new improvised bike carrier, and a storage box that also provided a place to sleep on top of it. Unfortunately it did not gain air conditioning! The drive over from Carson City was about 4h, and very hot. Luckily I have a pump sprayer that I use to hose myself down at regular intervals, taking advantage of the evaporative cooling that is so effective in the desert.

    I drove into Kingston Canyon from the NW, over a pretty spectacular pass that necessitated 4 low. On the other side I stopped to help a lady in her 60s change a flat (meaning I changed it). She would probably have muddled through eventually, but it's a pretty remote place to be going if you're not totally prepared....

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    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  3. #3
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    My plan, such as it was, was to wake early (always a struggle for me as I'm a "get up late and go faster" type) and ride in the dark for a while. The first 5 miles of the trail are uphill, dramatically--it gains 2989' in 4.62mi. I figured I could navigate this in the dark.

    Whoops--I just drove way east and forgot about how that would affect the sunrise. It was well up by 0530 when my alarm went off, so I didn't need a light when I finally got rolling at 0630. (Maybe I should have left it on the bike, though....)

    From the trailhead (no indication of which trail it's for, though) it gives you an early taste of what's to come.

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    Once out of the brief first flat section, I started up the initial climb. It's easy to follow, and fairly clear, but quite steep. I'd say it's right on the edge of rideable for me in a 30/51, with a somewhat loose surface. Not being warmed up and without any letup in the steepness AT ALL, I did more pushing than I'd prefer.

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    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  4. #4
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    I'd loaded my bike down with an extra 1.5L bottle strapped to the top-tube along with a 25oz bottle, and had another 3L in my pack in anticipation of possibly not finding water at all. I also had 6 of my home-made rice based bars and a ton of other packaged food with me. I figured it would take at least 12h, maybe 14h to do the trip.

    Once I got on the ridge, the views became amazing, all the way to the valley floor 4000+ feet below on both sides. It was pretty cool for a while, but eventually started dropping down into the first of a series of canyons. The trail became more overgrown and a little technical at times. There were many cows, some of whom were kind enough to run along the trail in front of me and leave a stream of wet shit for me to roll through. Good times.

    It turns out that there is plenty of running water, as well, so I needn't have carried all of that extra weight. Note to self...

    Also, when riding 6" wide trails with exposure on one side and treacherous sage when there isn't exposure, one can't look away for even a second, lest one run off the edge or snag a pedal on a branch. Oof.

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    BTW these pictures are not necessarily in order.

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    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  5. #5
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    May 2008
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    On a genuine ol' fashioned authentic steam powered aereoplane
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    Very cool. I definitely want to explore that area. Really get the vibe that those trails are almost never visited which makes it super intriguing.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2003
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    The TCT has been on my list of fall rides ever since I saw this.

    https://theradavist.com/2018/10/neva...e-crest-trail/
    "The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size."

  7. #7
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    Was there ever any shade?
    Were their sections where no trail was apparent?
    Would you do it again?

    I am intrigued and now thinking about a fall mission!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    The Toiyabe Crest Trail runs N-S for about 35 miles nearly along, and sometimes directly atop the spine of the Toiyabe range. It ranges from 7500' to 10,400', and includes about 9000' of elevation gain in that distance. Both ends of it are pretty remote, so it's not a quick hit, and there is no easy way to shuttle it. So, I decided to do it as an out-and-back.
    In 1 day?

  9. #9
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    Jan 2005
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    Thx for posting this. I’m intrigued, having been in that area semi regularly.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canada1 View Post
    Was there ever any shade?
    Were their sections where no trail was apparent?
    Would you do it again?

    I am intrigued and now thinking about a fall mission!
    There is very little shade outside of the very bottom of the few canyons, for a couple of minutes at a time. It's all at a pretty high altitude, though, so it wasn't hot.

    Yes, there are sections where there is no clear trail, also in the canyon bottoms and in a few grassy areas. I have a LOT of experience navigating with GPS, though, so it never took me more than a couple of minutes to find the trail again. I have also navigated probably thousands of miles of this kind of terrain on motos, so finding a very faint trail is a skill I've developed.

    I would do it again, but with a few changes....

    Quote Originally Posted by 406 View Post
    In 1 day?
    That was the plan. TR continues...
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  11. #11
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    I got about 15 miles in and started doing some math in my head. Due to my poor understanding of how the sunrise works, I had lost my cushion time. I'd also left my light behind, which meant that I had few options:

    1: Ride to the end and turn around as planned. This was clearly going to take longer than the 12-14h I had budgeted, but I only had 14h of daylight. Doing the last steep downhill in the dark seemed like a bad idea.

    2: Ride to about mile 25 (the low point of the middle of the ride) and turn around. This would be do-able in the available time, but I would miss out on what I expected to be a cool section at the end, and obviously wouldn't get to ride the whole thing.

    3: Ride to the end, descend a 4x4 road (Ophir Canyon, which I'd ridden on a moto before), then ride 25miles of pavement & another 2500' of climbing to the truck on the gravel. This seemed unpleasant, but was clearly the best option. It's also the only way I know that anyone has done the TCT before, as I'd found a Reno guy's Strava track of it from 2018.

    I chose option 3, which took some time pressure off, but added the prospect of riding for 2+ hours on pavement in 100 degree temps. Ugh.

    Back to the ride at hand, though! I took a pretty decent break for lunch and to bathe a bit in the last stream I expected to find before the next 3000' climb to the last ridgeline. I also re-applied sunscreen.

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    This is looking to the last high point, just to the left of the highest rocky knob. The last 1/4 mile was absurdly steep scree pushing.

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    The view from the end point is pretty cool. This point is easily accessible via a 2wd road from the west, so a motivated team could manage a point-to-point ride if they were willing to do a lot of driving on dirt roads.

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    The road down to the east is VERY steep, losing 4000' in about 5 miles. It's not ugly, but it is a brake-burner. It would not be driveable in a regular truck, or at least not by me. There are some cool ruins near the bottom. It only took about 25 minutes to plunge down into the heat.

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    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  12. #12
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    And then all that's left is the grind back to the truck. I arrived at the pavement at about 1600, just in time to greet the high point of the day's temperature. I stopped a bit before at Ophir Creek to filter water for my bladder, fill my big bottle and drench myself, and got to the business of gutting it out.

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    The only saving grace was that there was a solid tailwind for most of the 22 mile stretch to Kingston, so I was able to maintain 20mph without killing myself.

    Then there was the 5 ish miles of graded climb back to the start, where I knew I had beers, tamales, and a Trader Joe's Indian lamb dish (which I never normally eat, but which I was excited about). I plugged away, but did have to stop since I was a little dizzy--I think the heat had gotten to me despite regular dowsings from the 1.5L bottle.

    There are lots of nice places to camp around there, and since it's so far from anywhere, it's not crowded. I arrived back at the truck just before 1830, 12 hours after starting.

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    Brush had its way with my legs. The bike fared pretty well, with only a bent dropper lever to show for my little off...

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    Ah, Austin. Gateway to so much.

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    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  13. #13
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    For those who want to geek out on the stats, here's the Strava link. I know some of you don't like Strava at all, and I don't put rides that go on unsanctioned trails onto it either, but this trail needs some publicity. It won't stay ride-able without some use, and I don't think there's any danger of a bunch of Bay Area tech bros mobbing it on e-bikes.

    I do think it could be done as an out-and-back, but obviously that would be a pretty big effort, if only for the amount of food one would have to bring. I ate 10 bars/snacks and probably should have had a bit more. There is plenty of water to be filtered along the way in the middle 15 miles, but obviously that takes time.

    If you don't feel like clicking, here's the relevant info:

    70 miles
    11,224' elevation gain
    9h 17m moving time, 12h total time


    https://www.strava.com/activities/3838673160
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteroom_Guardian View Post
    Very cool. I definitely want to explore that area. Really get the vibe that those trails are almost never visited which makes it super intriguing.
    That's putting it mildly. I'd wager the TCT sees fewer than 50 hikers a year, and most years likely zero bikes. We backpacked in the wilderness portion for 4 days last year over the 4th July weekend & saw 5 people total. If it's solitude you want, the Toiyabes can deliver. If they are still to busy and developed for you, I can send you to some nearly-as-amazing trails that don't have names.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  15. #15
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    Looks like Relive has so far survived its involuntary divorce from Strava. This really gives a sense of how lame the highway section of the loop is...

    https://www.relive.cc/view/vKv2RMZwW4v
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    Looks like Relive has so far survived its involuntary divorce from Strava. This really gives a sense of how lame the highway section of the loop is...

    https://www.relive.cc/view/vKv2RMZwW4v
    Super impressive effort. I can't imagine having to endure the road miles at that time of the day after 40 miles of beatdown riding. Tailwind or not your pace is completely ridiculous!

  17. #17
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    This is some outstanding solo adventuring and hardman insanity. There are so many amazing mountain ranges in the middle of Nevada that no one has ever heard of.

  18. #18
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    Sweet trip report! Love hearing about rarely visited nooks.

  19. #19
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    Awesome, thanks!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    That's putting it mildly. I'd wager the TCT sees fewer than 50 hikers a year, and most years likely zero bikes. We backpacked in the wilderness portion for 4 days last year over the 4th July weekend & saw 5 people total. If it's solitude you want, the Toiyabes can deliver. If they are still to busy and developed for you, I can send you to some nearly-as-amazing trails that don't have names.
    Awesome! Thanks for the TR! As with others I've been eyeing this trail for a while.

    Would be in for some of those other rides as well. If things go well I'll have a bunch of time off next year to explore stuff. Putting a note in my trail to-do list to hit you up for info!

  21. #21
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    Thanks for posting! Looks incredible
    It sucks to suck.

  22. #22
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    Dec 2005
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    Nice one! Rides like this are never as memorable when everything goes to plan anyway

  23. #23
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    Oct 2005
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    If any of you are serious about riding the TCT, I'm trying to rally a group to ride/race it in September. We'd set it up so that people can do one or both directions. It's very easy to get to either end with a 2wd, but it is quite far. There is excellent camping with water on the N end, and a huge flat spot on the S end that would also work, but it's at 10k and might be chilly.

    I think I can do it N-S in under 7h if I'm really going for it, and S-N should be a little quicker since there is 3k less climbing that direction, but possibly more pushing up loose sections.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-T707A using TGR Forums mobile app
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  24. #24
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    Is that one of the ranges of the Basin and Range? Looks amazing
    No longer stuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by stuckathuntermtn View Post
    Just an uneducated guess.

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