Pahrump Correspondence – May 2019

Surprise! There are Mountain Bike Trails in Pahrump.

You just finished climbing the mountain on your mountain bike. Perspiration soaks your shirt, and your body aches from the long climb up. You now claim your prize and head down the mountain. The wind whips through your hair.  The bike shakes from the rocky trail, as your Rock Shocks absorb the bumps.

You probably are one of many mountain bikers surprised by the number of trails available for riding in the Pahrump area, for Pahrump is better known for off-roading with motorized vehicles.

According to the International Mountain Biking Association, a town needs several attributes to draw people to the area. One factor is being easily accessible. Pahrump has access to a large international airport, McCarran International in Las Vegas, and more than one highway: Interstate 95 and Highway 160. The IMBA  also says that, for a town to attract mountain bikers, it needs to have adequate lodging and food. Pahrump far exceeds this requirement — with four hotels, over 1,800 RV spaces and over 50 restaurants in the area.

Mountain bikers love access to challenging trails and beautiful scenery. The Wheeler Pass area and the Carpenter Canyon area possess great potential as a draw to mountain bikers. The Bureau of Land Management and the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area care for both areas.

Wheeler Pass

Wheeler Pass provides great access to the Spring Mountain National Recreation Area. Although it’s a dirt road, it’s smooth enough that four-wheel drive isn’t necessary to travel into the backcountry.

Carpenter Canyon

For access to Carpenter Canyon use Carpenter Canyon Road.  The road requires four-wheel drive to access the backcountry. Take an ATV or pick-up truck to the upper part of Carpenter Canyon Road, which is also accessible from Highway 160, and ride the upper part of the trail for great scenery and a good workout. Mountain bikers suggest strapping your bike to the back of a quad for quicker access to the back country.

For a quick workout

The best trail in that area for a general workout is a small road that is an extension of East Charleston Park Avenue, which parallels Wheeler Pass. This trail is recommended if you don’t have time to go into the back country but you want to see some great desert/mountain scenery.

It’s a two-hour ride up the road and about an hour ride down, depending on how fast you go.
A good time of the year to go up this road is during the fall or spring when daytime highs are only in the 80s and the wildlife sightings are high. During the spring,  desert tortoises, cottontails, coyotes, jackrabbits, and snakes appear often.  If you are lucky you might run into a Desert Tortoise feeding early in the morning.  Watch for rattlesnakes during the spring and fall, for there are many in the area. If you come during a wet winter, the desert blooms will impress you, and the view of Pahrump is spectacular.

The best way to find this trail from the south end of town is by going up Winery Road off Hwy 160’s east side, turning left on Parsons Road and continuing on the dirt road until you get to the first right — the trail. Optionally, if you’re staying further north and nearer the center of town, take Panorama Road from Hwy 160 past the Best Western Pahrump Hotel, then take the first right onto East Charleston Park Avenue; continue eastward to the stop sign at Higley Road, then cross Higley to the unpaved road and proceed eastward to the trailhead, (See map)

Mountain biking continues to grow in the region, thanks to the efforts of Spicer Ranch owner Dave Spicer. He has a goal to build nearly 300-single track mountain bike trails in the Beatty area near Death Valley.

Like Beatty, Pahrump is surrounded by mountains and has the public land to build the necessary trails. The potential to attract more mountain bikers to the Pahrump area is high. At the moment, no one is building trails in the area, but with some help this could change!

— Vernon Hee