Horseback Riding-Lake Tahoe Trail Rides-Lake Tahoe Personal: Bio, E-mail, ICQ Horse-Related Links Please Sign my Guestbook! Horse books from! Send a Postcard from Lake Tahoe! Site Stuff: credits, web rings
Home | Trail Rides | Personal | Links | Guestbook || Site Info
~~Last updated March 2003~~

Winter Riding Range: Pinenut Mtns.

  • Location: The Pinenut Mountains are located east of Lake Tahoe, across the Carson Valley.
  • How to get there: Two major access points on the west side of the Pinenuts are at Johnson Lane/Sunrise Pass Road, to the north, and Pinenut Road to the south.
    • From Lake Tahoe, drive east over Kingsbury Grade and drop down to the Carson Valley. Continue straight on Mottsville Lane to the first intersection. This is Highway 88. Turn left, north, until you reach the junctions with Highway 395.
      • Turn right, east. Go through Minden and Gardnerville. At the far end of town, there is a light at the corner of Pinenut Road; turn left. Follow Pinenut Road out to the Douglas County Fair Grounds. Park here and ride the following trails.
      • Or, keep going north on 395 to Johnson Lane. To access Sunrise Pass Road, turn east onto Johnson Lane from Highway 395 half way between Minden and Carson City, Nevada. Go to the end of the pavement. You can park here and ride.
  • Trail Difficulty: From very easy to fairly difficult.
  • BLM Map: Reno and Smith Valley
  • Elevation Range: 5,000 - 9,300+ feet elevation
  • Trail Photos: Coming soon
  • Trail Descriptions: Follows on this page
  • Trail Length: Varies. Ride as far as you feel like!
  • Camping: Free camping all through BLM land, however, much private land is interspersed. Heed the no trespassing signs.
  • Water and grazing availability: Grazing and water at 'Sheep Camp', and various other small meadows and creeklets up higher.
  • Trail High Points/Low Points: High: Miles of trails forever. Low: Getting lost or turned around in the vast trail system. Very Low: Shooting!

    Trail Description:

    The Pinenut Mountains are a wonderfully diverse range. One can follow sand washes for miles, access old mining roads, follow powerline trails, or simply cut off cross country. I explore many miles every winter this way. Just pick a direction and go! (GSP is handy, here.) Most of the time you can see the Carson Valley or the Sierra, so it's hard to get really lost. But there are a myriad of trails and new ones are popping up every season! I'll outline the major roads and well-used trails. Many of these aren't on the BLM map. Take your copy of the Reno, Carson, and Smith Valley BLM maps and take the time to mark down roads and trails that don't appear on these maps.

    Every kind of recreation abounds in the Pinenuts. You see people in jeeps, on motorcycles, on bicycles, quad-runners, station wagons; people camping, hunting, running, cutting firewood, or gathering pine nuts in the fall.  They don't call these the Pinenut Mountains for nuttin! Even though Pine Nut trees abound, you'll also see isolated groves of Aspen tucked away in the folds and drainages up higher.

    Sheep Camp from Pinenut Road

    A favorite loop is one that starts at 'Sheep Camp'. This spot is about 4 miles up Pinenut Road. Cross the little creek and continue up the road, a mile or so until you come to a curve with a junction of another road coming down the canyon and ending in a mud puddle. Watch out for this puddle...if your horse is thirsty, as it has been known to swallow a motorcycle and a small pony. Veer right, down canyon for 50 yards, then continue up the next canyon, Blossom Canyon. Keep to the right until you plateau high up. The terrain opens up as you climb. Near the top of a saddle, you need to keep a sharp eye out for a very rocky trail that barely shows the immense traffic it gets. Turn right up the trail and follow it up, then all the way back down to Sheep Camp for a complete loop.

    Hot Springs Mountain from Johnson Lane

    Anywhere you park at the end of Johnson Lane will give you unlimited riding opportunities. I generally head north, east, or south, ride as long as I care to, then wind my way back!

    If a more specific destination is more to your liking, try heading to Hot Springs Mounain. This "hill" is north from Johnson Lane, the obvious hill blocking your view if you were to try to see Carson City from here. Jump on one of the many trails heading north. The ones in the valley are very sandy and make for a nice lope through the sage, or you could head directly to the Power Line. It starts off rocky and has some steep ups and downs until it, too, flattens out on the east side of this nice sage valley and heads all the way to Mexican Dam.

    To ride up to the top of Hot Springs Mountain, I like to ride to the north side, up a nice sandy jeep trail, that looks like it splits the mountain in two. It ends up looping around near the top, then goes down the south side, back towards the houses off Johnson Lane. The south-facing slope of Hot Springs Mountian is fairly steep at the top, but the view of the Carson Valley with the surrounding PineNut and Sierra Mountains is wonderful!

Created by: Deanne Del Vecchio, of Tahoe Design
Copyright © 1996 - 2006, by Deanne Del Vecchio. All Rights Reserved.

Site Originally Created October 24, 1996. 

Where I am when I'm not riding: or