by Gage Smith, the Picon Guy
In mid May, a small group of SXS riders decided to spend a long weekend at Nevada’s newest park, Walker River Recreation area near Yerington — close enough to get to without a five hour drive.
The park encompasses 12,900 acres and is made up of four separate ranches: The Flying M, The Rafter 7, The Nine Mile, and the Pitchfork, all of them once part of the sprawling Barron Hilton land holding. This will be a considerable work in progress as the years slip by. The only developed or semi-developed parts of this are the Nine Mile (commonly called “The Elbow”) and the Pitchfork where we stayed.
We arrived on a sunny Thursday in the early afternoon. The forecast was for wind, and gusts to 45mph made it a blowing dust and sand maelstrom. Luckily one of our party has a rather large motor home that allowed us to wait out the wind. There are new trees there, planted earlier this year and they took a beating. I hope that they will grow strong and tall enough to provide some shade. Also, some grass — even gravel would have made things better — but all that is time . . . and money.
Early the next morning, we took a stroll over to the non-hookup section. It occupies a former alfalfa field, and there is still enough plant growth to keep the dust down. We decided to move, all of us. We’d paid for hookups but forfeited the difference just to get out of the dust storm.
The East Walker River road is dirt, but pretty well maintained as it meanders along the river. Once you get to the Rafter 7 & cut off, you can head west and then hook up with the Rocklin/Pine Grove road. If you have never seen these two ghost towns, it’s a worthwhile trip. There are ruins in each place that offer some interest and you can make it a loop to see both.
Pine Grove, since it is so close to me, is usually an annual thing. We ride from the west side and always seem to arrive there around lunch time. We take the road climbing north to the Pine Grove Cemetery. There are quite a few graves and headstones as well as iron fences; it’s worth the look-see. We usually eat our lunch there; I call it “Dining with Dead People”.
If you are GPX savvy and can find a location on a map, the Northern Lights Mine is worth seeing to. It is east of the Pitchfork. There is a Reese River Road (not the one in Nye County) that will take you over the top and down to US 95 a few miles from Walker Lake. On fact, there are some pretty nice views of Walker Lake on this route.
According to my mapping program, we could have made a loop but on the return we ran into some rough washouts and were forced to turn back. Not a problem, the best way to see an area is to see it from both directions.
All in all, the new State Park is exactly that: NEW. It will take some time for it to mature and when it does, it will be a jim dandy. So, my recommendation for now is: camp in the non-hookups and bring plenty of bug spray (there are ticks too). Bring your fishing pole and your camera.