Friday, May 23, 2014

Franktown's Musgrove Canyon Road closed for mountain biking and backcountry hiking?

Lewers Creek, east-side Carson Range, Nevada
The Musgrove Canyon Road climbs away from Washoe Value, skirts the southwest corner of Franktown and leads into the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. This gravel-road trail into the Carson Range, popular with mountain bikers and backcountry hikers, connects Washoe Valley with the Tahoe Rim Trail section between Tahoe Meadows and Spooner Summit. However, it is currently interrupted along a short stretch that bends through Franktown territory between the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park and land of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. After about a one-mile climb, a new gate blocks the road where it is getting close to the canyon stream of Lewers Creek (picture above). A sign says: Private Property | No Trespassing | No Bicycling | No Hiking | No Hunting | No Fishing.

Years ago, Mike White referred to Franktown's recreational-access problems in the chapter Trip 20: Musgrove Canyon Road to Twin Lakes of his hiking guide [1]:

Getting onto public land from Franktown Road around the upscale homes and sprawling estates lining the country lane has been a bit problematic over the years. Residents successfully blocked the state's desire to build a bike lane on the edge of the popular roadway in the past and still don't seem ready to invite any type of recreationists into “their” backyard. Supposedly, the Forest Service has successfully negotiated public access to the Musgrove Canyon Road that travels over their land and onto state park property.

Was this a half-way, only temporary success? A look at the hiking map shows that the design of a few switchbacks through the sagebrush scrub south of the road could solve the problem. This mountainside belongs to the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. But I am not aware of any plan to do this. Why is it so difficult to create a great hiking and mountain biking environment around Franktown, while Genoa, another scenic and historic site at the east-side bottom of the Carson Range, has just done that. Genoa is surrounded by a trail system, which integrates this old settlement with nearby points of interest and trails, including the serene Genoa Waterfall, the Discovery Trail, the Sierra Canyon Trail and the River Fork Ranch's East Brockliss Loop and West Fork Trail

To access the highlights and remote areas off Franktown in the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, there are alternative routes and trailheads—such as the Hobart Road trailhead in the Lakeview Estates Subdivision described in “Ghost of a Sawmill” next to the trail from Hobart Road to Hobart Reservoir. Continuing your climb from the “Ghost of a Sawmill” further up into the Carson Range forest and alongside granodiorite formations, you will get to the Hobart Reservoir and the Red House in Franktown Creek.  From the Red House, you have two trail options to connect with the Musgrove Canyon Road/Twin Lakes trail—you will follow or cross Franktown Creek without ever passing through off-limits Franktown property.

Keywords: recreational access, hiking, backcountry, mountain biking, property rights, Franktown, Carson Range, Nevada, trail networks.

[1] Mike White: Afoot & Afield Reno-Tahoe: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide. Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 2nd printing November 2008; pp. 269-270, map on page 262.