Last weekend Kristy and I joined Barbara and Eric for a ride at Whites Creek. Whites Creek parallels the Mount Rose Highway, and can be accessed at many points. We started at the beginning of the trail, which is right in Barbara and Eric's neighborhood. You could tell that this trail was familiar with Barbara and Eric. They took off pretty fast right from the beginning.
The beginning of the trail was tight and technical. There were lots of turns that had quick uphills with rim twisting rocks right in your line. The creek also divides the property lines at this elevation. It felt like you were riding through people's back yard at times. The views were still great though. In the distance, you could see Mount Rose standing tall at over 10,000 feet. The lower trail was covered in the typical lower timberline bushes, sagebrush, bitter brush, etc. Up ahead though, you could see the pine trees in the canyon we were headed to.
Once we hit timberline, the trail took on a whole new feel. The forest is quite healthy and well preserved with many enormous trees. Whites Creek is never far from the trail either. I really enjoy hearing the sound of rushing water while riding. It is also possible to access the trail by road at this elevation. This may be more desirable in the hot summer months, since you would be in the shade from the very beginning. Many hikers also enjoy the trail due to the multiple access points. Visibility is pretty good though, so you don't have to worry about surprise encounters. Still, I think a bell might be a good idea to alert hikers that you are coming. There is a whole network of trails up there with other canyons and creeks to explore, so many options are available.
This was my first time riding with somebody on a cyclocross bike. Eric blew me away with the speed he could carry on that bike. I was riding my fast hardtail, and it was strange to see what looked to be a road bike speeding away in front of me. Eric even powered through the sandy spots with those narrow tires. I couldn't keep up with him on the climb. He was even fairly close to me on the descent. Although I could tell he was suffering a bit on the way back. The skinny tires and stiff front end were jackhammering Eric's upper body. Eric also used his cyclocross racing skills on some of the unrideable bridge crossings. He'd dismount, run across the bridge, remount the bike, and be pedaling again while I was still braking and unclipping before the bridge.
Here's some info on getting there, and some of the other trails in the area HERE.
The rest of the Whites Creek pictures are HERE.