A jam packed ride that mixes road climbs up the beautiful Six Mile Canyon with a fantastic four-mile singletrack descent that's some of the best flowing in Nevada. This alpine desert meadows loop caps out at 8,000-feet and is the former site of Wild Rockies and Wasatch series MTB races and current site of the Elko Velo Club Event rides. After passing through the Peqoup Ranch, a mix of singletrack and doubletrack leads through a pinyon pine and juniper forest and over a volcanic cinder cone. This is mostly BLM land so it belongs to you ... oh and a few cows
This ride is generally open from April through November, though the lower reaches will stay snow free longer. In the summer, it's better to enjoy the loop in the morning or evening, though the high elevation will help with the heat. There's no water or services whatsoever except at Wells or Wendover, 30-miles away. All trail junctures have sage and limbs on the ground to mark the turns and some also have rock cairns.
The Six Mile Road
allows primitive camping, but you can camp anywhere as hunters in the fall do. The road to the Pequop Ranch is an even better option.
This is a must for anyone passing through Northern Nevada on I-80. Head south toward the mine at Exit 378 and then turn right at the entrance to the mine on an unmarked road. Drive about four-miles on a rough road and park at a pull-off on the left.
There's almost no traffic on Six Mile Road
beyond the pull-off, which makes it great for biking. Enjoy pedaling past Pinyon pine, Utah Juniper and a few Rocky Mountain Juniper along a gradual grade.
Just past the 1.25-mile mark, turn right on the Canyon Access Road
.This primitive dirt road starts a steady one-mile ascent that steepens as it climbs. Those who love climbing will be able to drop gears and make it without issue. Less fit, or more casual riders may find it hard to make it without stopping. Next, there's a quarter-mile of pretty level pedaling before the climbing continues gradually up to the Solar Coaster Connector
. There are plenty of views along the way, so the slower pace doesn't get tedious.
Follow the short singletrack connector to reach the top of Solar Coaster
. You're in for a treat! Solar Coaster
provides four-miles of descending with almost no pedaling, and the speed and flow of the singletrack is a blast for both experts and intermediate riders alike. Beginners may find themselves overwhelmed by some steeps along the way, but "Bon Ton Roule" (let the good times roll) if you're feeling adventurous.
The trail begins with a steep descent for almost half-of-a-mile before letting off. At the one-mile mark, the canyon pinches down into some technical sections for more steeps. There are a few very rideable rock ledges after you pass under the large dead tree that's fallen over the trail, but this will hardly slows experts down because the trail is so fast.
Make sure to watch for cattle as you descend toward the ranch below. Near the bottom, the singletrack approaches Nanny Creek
. There are nice aspens and some seasonal stream crossing that won't get you bike muddy. As the grade mellows out, you can enjoy a cool-down coast, or pedal to keep the speed up till you reach the gate at Pequop Ranch.
The ranch is private, but the owner has given permission for mountain bikers to pass through. Just make sure to close any gates you pass through. On the other side, follow a ranch road to the right for a short distance to reach Secret Canyon
From the road, the trail climbs steadily, but not too steeply for a mile through a pleasant Pinyon and juniper forest that offers some shade on a hot day. At the top, it connects to Cinder Cone Vista
which takes riders through a singletrack, doubletrack, and road traverse that crosses over Cinder Cone vista to reach three troughs.
Continue across the road to pick up the Three Troughs - Six Mile Connector
. This is pretty much the only "beginner" terrain in the area and it offers a pleasant pedal through mildly rolling terrain. Here again is the characteristic Pinyon pine and juniper that offers some welcome shade for a hot day. You'll also probably see a bevy of birds on the way back to the car like Townsend Solitaires, Pinyon Jays, Scrub Jays, Casisin Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Ravens, and Green Tailed Towhees.
At the road, turn left for a quick return back to the pull-off where you left your vehicle.
The area is mostly made up of BLM land with cattle, mining, hunting, and wild horses. Newmont just discovered gold next door and poured their first bar in November. So I guess you could say the trails are paved with (microscopic) gold. The mining isn't noticeable from the trails, but we are working to protect the trails from future development
An excellent 5 min you tube video "Save the Pequop Mountain Bike Trails" gives a good overview on Solar Coaster
and the efforts to preserve it.