Monday, June 14, 2010

Above Virginia City: climbing Mount Davidson, the highest peak in Storey County

Mount Davidson is the the highest peak in Storey county, Nevada. Atop Mt. Davidson (over 7,600 feet high) you'll find yourself overlooking Virginia City. On a clear-sky day you can enjoy great views of other peaks of the Virginia Range (northeast), the Pine Nut Mountains and Desert Mountains (south-southeast, across the Carson Plains) and the Carson Range and Sierra Nevada (west).

The hike to the top is a two-phase experience. The first phase includes a strenuous climb: a slip-rock walk uphill the dirt road until you reach the Microwave Relay Station at Ophir Peak. Beyond Ophir Hill, you'll enter the second, pleasant phase offering a scenic, rim-trail-like hike to the destination. Both parts of the hike get you near rocks, spotted with yellow and orange lichen surrounded by similarly colored paintbrushes. In spring, other wild flowers are abundant, including lupines, phlox, dwarf onions, and bitterroot. Expect a nice—sometimes strong—breeze along the rim section.

Getting there
From C Street in “downtown” Virginia City (which is part of Highway 341 going through town) turn into Taylor Street and walk uphill. Pass by Howard Street and turn right into Stewart Street and then left into the Spanish Ravine. There is no trailhead sign. You'll soon leave the paved road and walk on a dirt road. If you see the V and the water tower in front of you to the left, you are on the right track. The V in the pictures points downhill to the center of Virginia City. The Spanish Ravine, if taking a cross section, is also V-shaped. Instead of following the trail (which ends somewhere) at the bottom of the ravine, you want to take the right-turning dirt road, going north for a while, before it turns left and goes west and uphill to the relay tower.

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