Reno to Toquima Cave the Hard Way


Expedition Leader
So :princess: and I decided that since we had a free weekend, that we should put it to good use. The idea was to head to central Nevada and into the Toiyabe Range.

We left on Saturday morning and headed east. We stopped in Fallon for breakfast and to fuel up. We made it to Austin to top of the tank and headed south to Columbine Campground, just outside the Arc Dome Wilderness. On the way down, we got to see a Golden Eagle take off from a kill right next to the road. Very impressive.

We made it to the campground and found that other than one truck, we had the place to ourselves. We found our spot (the biggest one in the campground), we set up camp, which with the FWC, took all of about 10 minutes from stopping to relaxing. Gotta love that (we do).


We had the whole afternoon, so we decided to do some hiking. We started up the trail and when we got to the split, we had to decide whether to head for Arc Dome or turn left and follow the Toiyabe Crest Trail. We gave the crest trail a try. Let me tell you, that trail is straight up and unfortunately, covered in cow patties. There are cows everywhere and it kind of ruined the experience. We put in a couple of miles and called it good. We headed back to camp.

Some of the views:

Towards the end of the afternoon, one other vehicle showed up and we talked to him for a while. Had a great dinner and relaxed.

Sunday morning we got up and didn't really feel like going for a hike, so we headed out. Years ago, we had crossed Kingston Summit to the north, and we had made it up to Ophir on the east side of the range (again years ago). We, after seeing other's pics of the Ophir summit, became our destination. To the summit:

Now things get interesting...



Expedition Leader
Other's have had the good sense to stop there and turn around...

We (I) didn't.

I looked down the trail and figured, "How bad could it be?" I had been on the lower side and now I had seen the top. Down we headed. At first it was no big deal, just typical Nevada high country roads. And then we hit the jungle. The east side the mountain range in that area is very lush and has an amazing amount of vegitation. Of course the truck and camper were getting their fair share of "Nevada Pinstriping," but it wasn't too bad. Yet. We hit a spot where the spring basically is the road and there were a couple of good holes and I found one. The front passenger side slammed down hard and I knew that I had to have really hit something, but wasn't in a spot to check for damage, just wasn't a good spot, so on we went. Too bad I didn't get a picture of the spot, but took some at the next spot.

Then we came to two dead Aspens laying across the road, they were too low to drive under, so out came the ax. Now for years I have come across low hanging trees that I have had to cut out of the way and you would think that by now, I would remember to pack my bow saw, but I didn't. I started to chop my way through the trunk of the lowest one, which was about 5' off the ground. Not easy to chop through dried Aspen that is 5' off the ground. As I was chopping (slowly) through the trunk, two quads came up behind us. I apologized to them for completely blocking the trail and asked if they had a saw. One guy said he had small saw. I used it and cut right through the rest of the trunk. Got it moved and down we went. I pulled over and let the quads by. The "saw" guy said there was only one other spot and then it was smooth sailing from there. I didn't get any pics of the trees, but just on the other side of the downed trees, there was an old foundation in the vegitation.

We made our way down to Murphy Mine, which was the main source mine for the Ophir area.

Checked the damage and found the front bumper took the hit and it bent the driving light bracket, not too bad.

Some new camper "character."

Being supervised.

Down to Ophir for lunch. After lunch, we decided to head for Toquima Cave. We had passed the turn off many times and figured this was the time. There is a non improved campground just outside the cave area, so that is where we headed. On the way, we scoped out the Spencer's Hot Springs, again, we have known about it for a while, just never stopped. The plan was to camp high and come down in the morning for a soak.

To be continued...



Expedition Leader
Up to Toquima Cave Campground. We set up camp.

After a bit of relaxing, we had the whole place to ourselves, we headed for the cave. It is only a 1/4 mile walk to the cave.

We took the long way back and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and were rewarded with a spectacular star filled sky around 9pm, the moon had not risen yet, so the stars were in full view. We saw plenty of shooting stars, which was really cool. About that time, a Jeep pulled into the entry of the campground, so we ended up with company after all. :D

We got up early and headed down the the hot springs and had a great soak as the sun came up.

Once the soak was over, we headed home. It was a great trip and I would do it again (ok maybe not the east side of Ophir peak road).


Desert Dan

That looks like a gret trip. I like Ophir Pass!!
It looks like fall colors are just starting!!

Thanks for clearing some of the brush with your new camper LOL


Expedition Leader
Thanks everyone. Can't wait to get out again. We have been traveling in Nevada's backcountry for years and we never get tired of it and always see something new and exciting.