From a distance (like a vantage point below Pete's
) the Toiyabe Range look like a huge hull of a
boat upside down. It seems like they would be the biggest
obstacle that US50 has to overcome on its way west, before
crossing the Carson Range to Lake Tahoe. And even if it's
not the highest point on that stretch of road (that would be
you add both approach heights together, by this measure -
this climb is the biggest.
But statistics aside, the road still picks the gentlest
crossing it can find and real impressions of the Toiyabe
Range are limited.
WEST ALT: jct US50 - Old Overland Road
2.(5880ft,mile05.5)jct US50 - Nv722, west of Austin
3.(6030ft,mile06.7)jct with Big Creek Rd on left,
access to Toiyabe Range summits
4.(6590ft,mile08.6)START-END WEST: center of Austin
5.(7484ft,mile11.5)TOP: Austin Summit and jct with
roads to Emigrant Pass and Austin Crest Trail
6.(6840ft,mile14.0)Grass Valley Rd takes off on left
7.(7267ft,mile15.2)Bob Scott Summit
8.(6070ft,mile20.2)START-END EAST ALT: jct with Nv376
9.(5740ft,mile25.2)START-END EAST: slight curve in
US50, marking southernmost point in valley
From West. Austin is where the curves on US50 start,
when leaving the expanse of dessert that is labeled Reese River
Valley on the map. But Austin is not located where the climb
starts. Several hundred feet are involved in climbing the
alluvial fan below the town.
Austin inhabitants seem to have accumulated a lot of junk
since the time this was a silver rush town. Today it looks more
like a auto junkyard with a few buildings lining main street.
But living in isolation like this, and considering the prices
one has to pay to buy anything whatsoever, this is just smart
thinking. But the buildings of Austin are even older than the
oldest, rustiest, most banged up, deadest cars in town.
Billboards on the outskirts of town make it sound like one is
approaching a tourist attraction. I guess it's all in the
marketing. The old historic city hall does have a small pamphlet
with several mountain biking trail rides. As far as stores and
groceries are concerned, there are two gas stations competing in
who can charge more for gallons of gas and milk.
Leaving the junkyard behind, the road climbs into bare green
hills and gains the top of this summit with two or three
switchbacks. On top dirt roads in both directions are amongst
the mountain biking routes, suggested by the official pamphlet.
US50 through Big Smoky Valley down below
From East. (described downwards) A short descent leads
to a high valley with flat topped mountains in the background.
Then another short climb leads to what is labeled "Bob
Scott's Summit" on state maps. Unlike all the other
official US50 summits, this one has no name sign. But it does
have an oversized parking lot and a historical marker on top.
Bob Scotts Campground, immediately after the top, has water and
charges 10 dollars a night.
The remaining descent goes through plenty of open trees,
until the dessert scape of Big Smoky Valley makes it appearance
as backdrop. The view of this massive valley, lined with the
rounded triangles of the Toiyabe Range on one one side, and the
Toquima Range receding into a wooded plateau on the other side,
to me is more impressive than the pass itself. Unfortunately,
during the time of year I was here, it was also much hotter and
less comfortable. Again the bike keeps on rolling well into the
valley, when the mountains have already become a distant sight.
Bob Scott Summit on way to Austin Summit
A Dayride with this point as intermediate summit is on
page: FR002 Toiyabe