Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the new grand opening of the 5+ mile Pinyon trail in Gardnerville. The Carson Valley Trails Association has been working on this trail and getting it approved and then built for a couple of years now.
I went with a friend that had helped work on building the trail and as it turned out we were the only two equestrians there. Most likely because other riders would prefer to avoid a large crowd of hikers and mountain bikers on a narrow singletrack trail. Fortunately, my horse Bo and my friends horse Jack were not bothered at all by all of the activity and handled it quite well. Guess that just goes with the territory of being an endurance horse. Plus, if you are going to ride in the Pinenuts your horse is going to get pretty used to just about everything – mountain bikes, motorcycles, quads, people shooting, etc. This new Pinyon trail is closed to motorized vehicles, hopefully those users will respect that.
Here is an overview of the trail from the Carson Valley Trail website: The Pinyon Trail is a hand constructed, non-motorized single track trail open to hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and dogs. From the trail head, the trail gently climbs for just over a mile to a trail junction. At this junction, trail users can go either direction on the three-mile loop portion of the trail. The return trip back to the trail head from the junction results in a round-trip trail distance of about 5.2 miles.
Taking the loop twice extends the length to about 8.2 miles. The trail wraps around a large hill with continuous views of the Pine Nut and Carson Ranges. Nevada’s state tree, the single-leaf pinyon pine grows throughout the trail system along with Utah junipers. The trail elevation ranges from 5,700 feet at the trail head to about 6,060 feet, and has a gentle grade of about 5%. The trail surface is generally soil with patches of bedrock.
We really enjoyed getting to ride on the trail. Bo and Jack both thoroughly loved the the trail and you could tell they were having a blast trotting on all of the nice twisty turns. We as riders were sure enjoying all of the gorgeous scenery in all directions. New views and scenery greeted us at every turn on the trail. Since we knew the horses would be faster than most of the others we left plenty early so that we would not be in their way, and vice versa. We did encounter others that had that same idea and then on the common mile section of trail we did encounter a few dozen other assorted users heading out while we were going in.
The trail head has plenty of parking for both cars and horse trailers (see above photos). If the parking are where the kiosk is gets crowded then there is another large area across the road where even the biggest of horse trailers can turn around easily.
Personally, I would rather just ride from my house and save the effort of trailering there and back. In fact, that is what I did on Sunday when my friend Susan rode Bo with me and I rode Chief. The round trip from home ended up being about 16.59 miles which was just about perfect for a nice Sunday ride, though I think both horses could have benefited from a bit more hill work. The wind came up otherwise we might have stayed out a bit longer.
All of the trail users we encountered on both days were friendly and extremely courteous. Many (well, most) are not that well educated on what they should and shouldn’t do when encountering horses on a narrow trail though. Just a couple of things that I”ll point out for those that might be reading this that don’t know. From the CVT page: “When approaching equestrians, make yourself clearly visible.” While many did do that, several would get off of the trail as soon as they saw us, often darting behind the pinyon pines out of view of our horses. Some horses will view that as a predatory behavior and will become apprehensive about continuing on the trail. They know something is there, but they can’t see what it is. The next thing from the CVT page: “Horses can be easily spooked, so it is courteous to speak to the rider in advance so they are aware of you,and then safely move to the downhill side of the trail and let them pass.” With a few exceptions (mainly from the mountain bikers, they were the ones most likely to move downhill), everybody went to the uphill side. The reason why bikes and people (esp. those with dogs) should go to the downhill side is that if the horse does get a little nervous or frightened it will almost always move away from what is frightening it — much safer for the horse and the rider to move over to the uphill side rather than the downhill side where a wreck is certainly much more likely to happen. Obviously each situation dictates doing what is safe and that is why horses using this trail should already be trail savy and used to encountering other trail users.
On both days we trotted quite a bit of the trail except for when we were encountering groups of people. It took us 57 minutes on Saturday and on Sunday just about the same, under an hour.
Many thanks and appreciation go deservedly so to all of the hard working volunteers that put in hundreds of hours of hard labor into building this trail. It is extremely well designed and is going to be a great asset to the community. I like seeing so many different kinds of trail users sharing trails together, getting along and working on projects like this.
To find out more about the Pinyon Trail in Gardnerville, NV as well as other trails in the Carson Valley, click here
Below is a link to a video that Susan made with her GoPro.