A visual inspection of the northern Nevada hills quickly reveals trails galore to an untold number of destinations well beyond the beaten path. We live in a state where All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) are part of the culture for many individuals. Families plan gatherings and time spent together based on the best trails and where adventure awaits.
The Santa Rosa Mountains in Humboldt County are a beautiful place to explore on ATVS/OHVs. Two trails that are readily available just 45-minutes north of Winnemucca in the Santa Rosa Range and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest are the Buckskin and Table Mountain ATV Loop Trails. These trails were improved over the past several years through a generous Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant from Nevada State Parks in partnership with Nevada Outdoor School (NOS), AmeriCorps, the US Forest Service, and the Northern Nevada ATV Association (NNVATVA).
In addition to Humboldt County being a great place for OHV/ATV recreation, it is also the top agriculture producing county in the state. While the Santa Rosa Mountains are a great place to ride, they also have many grazing allotments that the area ranchers pay the Forest Service to graze their cattle on. Ranchers use fences and gates to manage their allotments and cattle. The Buckskin and Table Mountain area of the Santa Rosa Range have many allotments and contained numerous gates crossings that needed to be opened and/or closed when traveling through to keep cattle where they are supposed to be. Off road recreationists and hunters were being blamed for leaving gates open and the cattlemen were not happy with the Forest Service’s ability to monitor and prevent the gates from being mismanaged. This is not an unusual situation when there are multiple-uses on a plot of land.
In other western states, fabricated steel cattle guards have been installed at gate crossings which enable ATV and OHV users to pass over the ramp style cattle guard without having to stop to open and close the gates. This system allows a quicker and easier ride for recreationists while managing gate systems and keeping cattle where they are supposed to be. This was a win-win implementation!
Through the RTP grant, an AmeriCorps member with NOS worked with the US Forest Service and the NNATVA to install these fabricated steel cattle guards at all of the gate crossings on the Buckskin and Table Mountain loops. Now, off-road enthusiasts can enjoy uninterrupted riding on the larger 27 mile Buckskin loop and the smaller 8 mile Table Mountain loop, making it a wonderful OHV/ATV destination for individuals and families. Lye Creek Campground, about 6 miles south of the Buckskin route, serves as an excellent base for multi-day exploration of the Santa Rosa Mountains.
While being outside to have fun and explore is a good goal, safety should always remain an important consideration. On ATVs/OHVs safety considerations include the steepness of the slopes, the surface material, how rutted the trail is, trail access and how many/what kinds of other trail users there are. Not all ATV or OHV routes are appropriate for all riders, know your limits and research the route you plan to take ahead of time. Remember to research and follow Tread Lightly! principles while riding to help keep our beautiful recreation areas healthy and open for future use.
In an effort to continue to educate and find additional win-win solutions, Tread Lightly! and its partners have several national initiative working to protect and enhance recreation access and opportunities by promoting behaviors that maintain healthy ecosystems and thriving populations of fish and wildlife. Programs such as Ride On Designated Roads, Trails and Areas and Respected Access is Open Access focus on education so that trails remain open while caring for the natural resources found in our local area. To learn more about Tread Lightly! visit their website at treadlightly.org.
Stop by the Nevada Outdoor School Elko Office at 2363 North 5th Street, #102 to pick-up a map and beginning planning your next adventure. Get outside; fresh air and sunshine is a good for all of us!