Hikers find Peavine Mountain a peak experience

by John Trent,Outpost contributor

In this package
The lowdown on how to prepare for your Peavine trek

Peavine reveals its secrets grudgingly to hikers

From top to bottom, Peavine hikes for everyone

Volunteers work to keep Peavine open

Sierra hiking has plenty of routes to choose from

Read all about it: Good hiking books

Mapping out your next hike

Peavine Mountain, rising high above north Reno, reveals its secrets gradually, grudgingly, as if testing the resolve of the person who climbs its steep and barren flanks. To find out what this mountain is about, you have to be willing to sweat and pant a little. Getting to the top isn't enough, for Peavine's backside is where the true payoff lies.

One of the hardest things about Peavine - in addition to the unrelenting seven-mile climb to its 8,266-foot summit - is finding the right road to follow. This desert mountain, named in the 19th century for the wild peavine trees growing near the summit's natural springs, is a favorite of off-road vehicles. From afar, the mountain seems to have a series of undulating, deep white veins. They are the same slippery, sandy arteries you follow as you trudge to the summit. Says Jocelyn Biro, a recreation planner for the Toiyabe National Forest, which owns and supervises much of Peavine: "There are probably more roads on Peavine than any other resource we manage. They're everywhere. And every season, there are new ones." The Forest Service recently completed a management plan for Peavine, which includes recommendations for increased signage, maps for vehicular, foot and spoked travel and tips for lessening man's impacts on Peavine (above all else: there is no need to create any new roads, since there are obviously plenty of old roads to choose from).

The road up Peavine Mountain. Photo by John Trent.

Some of Peavine's roads turn away from the summit, promising a downhill respite. But according to Joe Braninburg and Roland Martin, two Peavine trail-running veterans who travel the rugged mountain regularly, the only way to conquer Peavine is to know going in you will have to negotiate several steep uphill sections. Braninburg's Peavine rule of thumb: "If you ever are going downhill on the way up Peavine, it probably means you're going in the wrong direction."

"I try to do Peavine at least once a year," adds Jim Nicholson, a retired logging superintendent who lives in Reno. "It's a good test to see if you're still up for the challenge. You have to be patient. The mountain demands it."

Nicholson, 75, readily admits that the mountains to the south - the Carson Range, where such tree-nestled treasures as Hunter Lake await the hiker - are more aesthetically pleasing. Peavine, after all, is a brown mountain. The side Reno awakens to each morning isn't one that creates a poetic reaction. Not at first, anyway. "You can't beat the access," says Dale Beesmer, who moved to northwest Reno about three years ago - partly because Peavine and its many trails were so close. "It's within a five-minute drive of most of northwest Reno and probably only about a 10-minute drive from parts of southwest Reno." And, adds Nicholson, "There aren't many tests like it in your own backyard."

Posted Dec. 16, 1997
Copyright 1997 Nevada Outpost

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