El Dorado Canyon was the destination of this week's Wednesday after work ride. I was excited to check out this remote canyon, just east of Carson City in Lyon County. The last time I was up there I had 12 inches of suspension travel and a 40 hp motor. This would be the first time on a bicycle. To get to the trail head, we drove east of Carson City to the town of Dayton. We parked at the Rodeo Fair Grounds, and Jeff P. and I began the ride there.
The remoteness of El Dorado Canyon is not so much because of its distance away from civilization, but because of its ruggedness. The road up the canyon is very smooth and enjoyable in many spots, but when it's bad, it's very bad. It's a popular route with jeeps because of the challenging creek and boulder crossings. I rode my hard tail for this trip. And while it was fine most of the time, the frequent boulder crossings were wearing me out on the way back. Next time I plan to bring the full suspension bike.
The canyon is quite beautiful, and is probably a geologist's dream. There are all sorts of interesting rock formations, and each rock outcropping seems to be a different type of rock. This also adds to the many colors of the canyon.
When we reached the mouth of Sullivan Canyon, we followed a single track up a pleasant grade. The climb is smooth and narrow, and is a nice break from the rocks back in El Dorado Canyon. Once near the top of Sullivan Canyon, we climbed up onto a hill above Bull Run Spring. Looking at the topo map, it looks like we did about 1,500 feet of climbing at this high point in the ride. It was now time for the payoff from all the climbing.
The descent back to El Dorado Canyon is perhaps one of my favorite to date. The single track is tight in the trees, and swoops all around like a roller coaster. You only have to pedal here and there to get over little hills before once again descending wildly. There's a real steep drop into the Bull Run Spring canyon. It's free of rocks, but quite slippery. It feels like the brakes aren't doing a bit of good, but then you regain control and get on the single track heading down Bull Run Spring canyon.
It was just starting to get dark as we once again reached El Dorado Canyon. Unfortunately I pinch flatted the front tire when I nearly endoed on one of the creek boulders. The nocturnal wildlife was starting to wake up. Frogs, crickets, and quail started making their music. We quickly fixed the flat, and finished the trek out of the canyon. The boulder crossings were starting to get to me at this point, and I was wishing for my full suspension bike. We finally got back to the car at 8:30, and it was officially dark. I'm looking forward to riding this trail again soon, and will day dream of that cool downhill often!
More pictures from the ride HERE.
Here's an article in the Nevada Appeal about El Dorado Canyon.