Off-Road Bike Adventures Through America’s Largest Historic District
Enjoy Mountain Biking and Gravel Riding in Virginia City
Ralph Waldo Emerson may have not been a cyclist when he wrote “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” but he certainly invoked the experience that is the epitome of increasingly popular trail and off-road cycling. Virginia City, Nevada,is precisely this type of bike destination. Located 22 miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the Virginia City Historic District includes the 19th century mining towns of Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City and Dayton, each connected by old stagecoach roads, trails and expansive public lands in a mountainous high desert setting. Rides through this region are a journey back in time to its boomtown heyday where discovery of cultural sites, historic landmarks and mining artifacts are around each off-road turn.
The Virginia City Historic District is an impressive preservation of more than 400 19th century buildings, sites and abandoned mines. Rides in this region are reminiscent of old western films with sights of still-operating steam trains, mines, abandoned camps and wild horses, all while navigating a mix of stagecoach roads, double track and singletrack. Zoom into a satellite map of the area and bike visitors find a seemingly endless crisscross of trails that wind through the region. In fact, 67% of the state of Nevada is public lands and the area surrounding the Virginia City Historic District is a representation of this open space. It’s easy for adventure cyclists to seek the road less traveled, discover cultural sites and witness mining activities; all while being comfortably close to the amenities of the nearby towns.
Notable Virginia City Historic District routes include:
Jumbo Grade Road, also known as Ophir Grade, was founded in 1907. Originally, the stagecoach grade accessed the small Jumbo mining camp, but was abandoned in 1921 when the Comstock boom faded. Today’s Jumbo Grade follows the same route, starts as a paved road, transitions to an off-road trail, rises above Washoe Valley and climbs near to the summit of Mt. Davidson before dropping into Virginia City, providing amazing views along the way. A straightforward loop from Reno can be ridden with a southbound start on Old U.S. 395 to Washoe City, ascent up Jumbo Grade, through Virginia City and a descent down Toll Road. This ride is approximately 40 miles and 3,500 feet.