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Austin Crest Trail s(u)

Thanks to the effort of one bike store owner, the town of Austin is a mountain biking destination. Or maybe it once was this way. The bike store owner, who once worked on marking and publicizing these trails has moved on to Ely, just like the old silver miners that founded the town have moved on to other productive spots. And just like the miners have left their rock piles and ore tailings, the bike store owner has left the signs pointing the way to a handful of mountain biking routes, through the maze of forest roads in this area.

All of these are really great rides, and they are centered around Austin Summit and the campground on Bob Scott's Summit. A ride over the Austin Crest Trail, is definitely not the most ridable of these, but easily the most scenically stunning with prime views onto the Toyabee Range.

One more thing about Austin. People live here, but there is no grocery store, just two gas stations competing in who can charge the most for a gallon of gas, and double the price for a gallon of milk. The Austin Toyabe Mountain bike trail guide is available for free at the city hall. This pamphlet also lists "grocery stores", well just one: the General Store in Kingston - god knows how many miles to the south east. However if you want to go antique shopping after or during the bike tour, this town is tailor made.

For more pictures see the slide show link on the left.

01.(5730ft,mile00.0)START-END WEST ALT: jct US50 - Old Overland Road
02.(5880ft,mile05.5)jct US50 - Nv722, west of Austin
03.(6030ft,mile06.7)START-END WEST: jct with Big Creek Rd on left, access to Toiyabe Range summits
04.(6590ft,mile08.6)center of Austin
05.(7484ft,mile11.5)Austin Summit, profile turns right up towards Austin Crest Trail
06.(7850ft,mile12.6) Austin Crest trailhead near Union Hill
07.(8480ft,mile15.0) intermediate summit
08.(8430ft,mile16.5)intermediate summit
09.(8720ft,mile19.0)intermediate summit
10.(8850ft,mile20.1)TOP: highest point on Austin Crest Trail, profile turns right shortly after this
11.(6390ft,mile25.1)profile stays left, heading further down into valley
12.(5830ft,mile28.9) low point on Big Creek Road at the jct with dirt road heading directly west


From South. The profile shows the maximum elevation gain, and starts near the lowest point in the Reese River Valley below Austin, just to give an idea about the size of this landscape. On a loop ride the lowest point would be at point 3, or a little higher if one follows the edge of the Toiyabe Range a little closer.

US50 leads to the top of Austin Summit, but you can also bypass this stretch of road with a dirt road to the south of the paved road. From the top of Austin Summit, dirt roads leave in both directions. This one heads south, heading for a transmission facility, that can be seen while riding to Austin Summit. After the first steep uphill section, there is a ghost bicycle trailhed of sorts: a bikerack overgrown with weeds, an unexpected, elaborate stone bench, and a map sign post. But the post is empty, just bare wood. It looks like once upon a time, bikers were taken up here with automobiles to start their ride here. - Well - just riding to this location is a better idea anyway.

The first of many downhills followed by a slightly steeper uphill leads to the transmission facility. After the trailhead intersections are marked with arrows. The Crest Trail follows the option 5, just like the Austin - Toiyabe Mountain bike trailguide booklet (available for free in the Austin City Hall) says. Other things in this little booklet may be out of date, like for example there is no more mountain bike shop . But the majority of these little numeric signs seem to have survived.

Past the first dip the amazing sight of Toiyabe Peak comes into view. It is not rocky alpine, but more like a set of green grass faces. Up here above the dessert the wild flowers are blooming, the grass is green, the sky blue and the temperature is perfect under the clear sky.

The old ride brochure states for this ride: "cyclists might find themselves walking in places". I think cyclists will definitely find themselves walking in places. And I don't think that technology will ever come up with anything that would provide enough tire traction, so that one could ride up some of these slopes, even if somebody would develop the leg power.

The dips and rises seem to become more severe, or maybe I am just getting more tired as the ride progresses. They dips and climbs be seen ahead over the green ridgeline, like a cut on a watermelon. Each climb also gets you a little higher than the preious one. Some of the peaks have a single track cutoff option around the very tops. The profile above follows the main trail over all the intermediate summits, labeling just a few of them. Finally the track reaches the highest point. An additional unexpected object comes into sight: The workings of an old silver mine and its cliff cuts. This is not an old historic mine, but a recent operation from the 80s and 90s.

From North. (described downwards). Somehow this ore had to be transported to the valley. So it doesn't come as a surprise that a wide, elaborately engineered rock cut with road leads down Dry Canyon, back into the Reese RIver Valley. Even if forest maps do not show it, it is also possible to descent through the mined area to the east to Big Smokey Valley. To the east there is also another more jeep trail like possibility to descend.




( < FR002 Toiyabe Range s(u) | Basque Summit > )
Austin Crest Trail s(u) , Emigrant Pass , Bob Scott's Summit x2 : US50 east of Bob Scott's Summit > Bob Scott's Summit > Austin Summit(shp) > Austin Crest Trail s(u) > down Dry Canyon > Big Creek Road north <> out and back into Austin > FR184 north <> out and back on FR184 due to missing a turn > FR222 > FR223 > Emigrant Pass > Austin Summit(shp) > Bob Scott's Summit > back to starting point: 48.0miles with 6720ft of climbing in 5:47hrs (VDO MC1.0 m5:13.6.21).