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Aliens! Outlaws! New trails, oh my!

Aliens! Outlaws! New trails, oh my!

New trails planned for southeastern Nevada

Posted: January 31, 2024
Joey Klein in silhouette designing trails in Pioche, NV.
Photo courtesy of: Mike Repyak

“...the landscape is something special. It's neat. It's so different. You can almost say it sometimes feels like you're on a different planet…”

"Aerial photo overlooking the highway leading into Pioche, Nevada. A vast high desert environment with nothing for miles."

It’s late November of 2023, and IMBA Trail Solutions’ Mike Repyak is reviewing drone footage from high above the 1,435-person town of Pioche, Nevada. He’s not looking for alien craft, but mineshafts to avoid are on the menu. Overall, he’s getting a sense of the landscape and noting the variety of high points, gentle slopes, drainages and ridges. As he scans and takes notes, he’s thinking about his recent conversations with the community partners from that morning. “Apparently, this was a pretty lawless place for a couple of years…truly the old Wild West.” Pioche’s town clerk, Anna Williams, confirms this. “Pioche was a mining town back in its heyday and was actually the largest town in Nevada in the late 1800's. We are proud of our old, wild west history and like to brag about how back in the old days we were a rowdier town than Tombstone, Arizona.”

"Aerial view of the town of Pioche, Nevada. Clear blue sky with small mountains hugging in the small town."


"Aerial view over Boot Hill Cemetery in Pioche, NV."

“One of my favorite parts about this area is that it feels like the last frontier in the United States,” noted Geoff Chain, IMBA Trail Solutions planner. Due East of the infamous Extraterrestrial Highway sits this high desert town. Just close enough to Las Vegas for a day or weekend trip, these days, this place is an oasis for those seeking out quiet and looking to unplug.

And when you read quiet…literally dead silent quiet. “You won’t hear planes overhead; I’m guessing there is a no-fly zone near this entire area (due to its proximity to Area 51). You actually feel like you’re totally away from it all,” added Geoff. But Pioche isn’t entirely desolate. It offers quaint amenities for those passing through or staying a little while. It’s been home to an unmarked trail system already, but it's primarily for the hiking/trail running community. Soon, it will also be home to ~12 miles of mountain bike-optimized trails.

"Three men looking over a desert landscape - man in the middle talking with his hands."


"Five people sitting at a table looking over GIS planning documents in an office setting."


"Desert landscape at sunset with a pink flag in the foreground."

The idea for new trail systems in southeastern Nevada optimized for shared-used recreation spurred from a partnership idea thought of over a decade ago.

Lincoln County, Nevada State Parks, the City of Caliente, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wanted to give locals and visitors more robust recreation opportunities. With funding from the Southern Nevada Public Management Act of 1998, the BLM has created a variety of assistance agreements to transform public tax dollars into amenities that benefit communities. “These [proposed] trails near Pioche are just a continuation of that effort,” explained Harry Konwin, BLM Archeologist, ”a trail connecting Pioche to Cathedral Gorge State Park has been on the slate since the first public meetings years ago.”

"Two mountain bikers riding in a desert, mountainous environment."

The first evidence of this effort was in nearby Caliente. IMBA’s Joey Klein was on the ground ten years ago when those trails were being discussed to design and develop and flag much of the 30-mile system. Though Caliente’s system boasts a wide variety of trail types, it is not necessarily accessible for most riders. The long climb to get into some of the trails in that existing network isn’t for the meek – notably the Connector Trail that links Caliente proper to Barnes Canyon. The new trails just outside of Pioche hope to offer a different ratio of experiences.

"Mountain biker dropping off a large rock feature in a desert environment."


"Man in the foreground attaching flagging to a bush, man in the background facing the camera pointing.""

The Caliente Area Mountain Bike Alliance (CAMBA) assembled around 2018 to help steward and activate the developing interest in mountain bike-optimized trails in Lincoln County as a whole and are integral to the mix as these new trails in Pioche are developing. “We’ve found an outstanding mix of terrain types that lend themselves to a full array of mountain bike skill levels. I’m stoked that we’re here planning as well as building for this area,” said Joey.

This new system, sandwiched between Pioche proper and Cathedral Gorge State Park, will bring close-to-home experiences and greater access for a variety of trail users. The biggest challenge in this area is soil, as is true of most high desert environments. “We don't get a lot of moisture out in the desert, but when we do, it tends to be in substantial quantities,” said Geoff. This is where elevation data and drone footage come in, utilizing mapping and the bird’s eye view to seek trail development zones, control points, and connectivity corridors.

"Aerial view of a hilly desert landscape with three people small within the scene."

The name of the game for the trio as they design these new trails is how to best set up the construction teams for success as they create intermediate and beginner-friendly trails in the area. Though there’s also promise for a few short, advanced options in the future, the team wants to give an experience outside of the norm for this region. “Working with Mike, Geoff, and Joey [has been] a wonderful experience. They listen and inherently understand our needs and desires to flexibly fit solutions that exceed our expectations,” said Harry.

"Two men standing in a desert rock garden smiling to camera."

In February 2024, IMBA Trail Solutions construction teams will be on the ground to build the first phase of this yet-to-be-named system. Of course, we’ll keep you updated on their progress and any interesting experiences the teams have along the way.

Learn more about the town of Pioche.

"Looking up at a small desert cliff face covered in red rock."
About the author
Liz Chrisman portrait

Liz (she/her) grew up pedaling a garage sale 10-speed on the dirt roads of the Arkansas River Valley and on tarmac throughout college. While finishing her master's program, a coworker handed her a rigid Gary Fisher, drove into the Ouachitas and they conquered mileage on the IMBA EPIC Womble…

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