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Leppy Pass

I'm really glad this one is just a bit higher than the 500ft minimum elevation gain. That's a cutoff point I have set, as a minimum requirement to include a point in these pages. Regardless of what I need, this point will always be a popular gravel biking destination for Salt Lakers, even if the destination signs mentions autos and not bicycles: the "Silver Island Mountains Auto Backroad Byway".

This point is just a small part of this loop, even if it is the highest. This point is on the south side of the loop. The highest point on the north side of this loop is barely 200ft above the sea level. But historically the northern high point is the most interesting. A sign reminds of the Hastings Cutoff and the history of the Donner - Reed party, a tragic California immigrant story.

Leppy Pass actually crosses the Silver Island Mountains between Leppy Peak and the rest of the range, which gradually increases in height towards the south and then fades away to nothing where it crosses Donner Reed Pass. I think one reason this is a popular bike loop, is because of the generally very bike friendly surface. However, I rode this a few days after heavy rain, creating probably the best surface conditions compared to other weather conditions.

1.START-END NORTH:jct Silver Island Mtns rd - road to Silver Island Pass, 4260ft
2.TOP: Leppy Pass, 4860ft
3.START-END SOUTH:road levels out, not far from jct with I80, 4240ft


From West.
On the east side of the Silver Island Mtns, this loop road stays fairly close to the lake shore and engages in several small ups and downs. Not so on the west side. The road reaches a low point where it virtually touches the playa surface. Weather this is another great playa surface, or part of the one on the east side is up for debate . If it has not rained for a long time there can be some sandy stretches here. Further west, on the other side of the dry lake in Nevada, the Pilot Range rises to over 10 thousand feet, crowned by an almost regular triangle. This scene does not change much as you progress along the lake. But with a memorizing view like that, who wants it to change. On the other hand, and on the other side, the Silver Island Range slowly changes from a set of desert blocks to a fanciful chain of monuments and nipple like outcrops.

The really noticeable part of the climb does not start until the road passes a sign to Silver Lake Island Pass. That point also does not offer the minimum 500ft of climbing to be included in these pages. Leppy Pass climbs slowly and deliberately, and in my case under the burning sun. There are many turnoffs that look like they might offer other routes across this rocky carpet of fanciful mountains, even if the map does not confirm this possibility.

By now the road is far from the sand of the lake, but barely any higher when compared to the benchmark, the 10 thousand foot high Pilot Range, across the playa in Nevada. At the top of the gentle Leppy Pass is a sign. But it says nothing about the pass. Instead it warns that the nearby pile of gravel is for use of the Utah Department of Transportation, and that carrying away of this gravel is definitely punishable by the law. So go collect your rocks somwhere else. ... and surprise, there is pavement up here. At virtually the same elevation, two directions of pavement continue downhill, one direction east from where this loop started, the other heading northwest, direction just between the Pilot Range and Wendover.

From East. (described downwards) A short paved roll leads down towards a gentle gap between rounded desert aunthill landforms, dotted with desert grasses like a regular pattern of freckles. The remaining triangle behind the gap is a regular pattern of strong contrast horizontal lines, representing various shore line salt levels of the Newfoundland evaporation basin. A single modern home with 4-or-more car garage, and storage sheds the size of airplane hangers completes the incongruous landscape. The profile continues on a short rustic paved road towards I80 until it reaches a low point.

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( < Angel Lake s(u) | Fisher Pass > )

Leppy Pass: closest point to I80 of Silver Island Mtns Loop : Silver Island Mtns Loop counterclockwise > Donner/Reed Pass(shp)/Hastings Cutoff > Leppy Pass > back to starting point near I80: 54.4miles with 1680ft of climbing in 5:06hrs (garmin etrex32 m5:23.6.5)
Notes: the paved distance is only a couple of miles - comfortable morning, hot afternoon. There are quite a few people camping in RVs near the beginning of the loop (let's say winthin 5 miles). But surprisingly I encountered no other vehicles or people of any genre on the rest of the loop.