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  • Writer's pictureJason Sheck

Ash Canyon Road, Hobarts Reservoir, Marlette Vista

Today was a combination of forest road driving and hiking. Ash Canyon Road took us from Carson City, NV up to a parking area where we accessed a trail system we used to hike to an overlook of Marlette Lake. The Jeep drive was very steep. We used 4Low both going up and coming down. The grade of the road averaged more than 20%, and was steeper than that at times. The views were great, and the Jeep climbed very well. The only times the tires slipped on the sand was when we crawled up and over the erosion control berms in the road. I hadn't aired down, so that was pretty good!

The hike was just over 10 miles round trip and took us about 1500' vertical above the area we parked. We used the Sunflower Hill Trail to do most of our climbing, then accessed the vista point from a portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail. The trail was in great condition and we enjoyed walking in the shady woods instead of out in the sun (there is an old road we could have followed). We'd recommend this trail to anyone that wants to drive up Ash Canyon Road.

What did I learn?

GAIA GPS is great, but not everything on it is accurate. There were unmarked gates that should be updated, and the Marlette Lake Campground isn't shown in the correct location. If you're familiar with an area you can improvise, but if you're not, double-checking aerial against GAIA GPS locations of campgrounds is important.

There is a lower gate on Ash Canyon Road. The gate opened a week before Memorial Day in 2021. The winter of 2020-21 was below average so the opening might have been earlier than normal this year.

It's been fun exploring the eastern slope of the Sierra before the expected seasonably dry weather turns things brown and takes away the wonderful green tone it current has.

Up, up, and away! Washoe Lake is in the background.

A shot of the Jeep making its way up a steep section. Cell phone cameras and video always seem to make things look small and flat...but this wasn't. Carson City is in the background.

Spot on the trail after we left the road. Beyond here we'd be on single track for the rest of the hike.

We don't see a lot of large mammals on our outings so it was fun to come across about 6 mule deer on our hike today. Some were laying down, others were eating grass. They were very calm considering how far out from the city we were (i.e. the deer are not human habituated).

Lingering snow drifts, like our drive last weekend. These drifts were at about 8,200' elevation.

This was our destination, the Marlette Lake Vista Point on the north end of the Lake. Lake Tahoe is in the background and over 1,500' lower than Marlette Lake. This is the water source of the Marlette Flume that played a major part of the logging industry that supported the silver mining near Virginia City, NV in the late 1800s.

As we made our way around the west side of Marlette Peak on the way back, we came across a great overlook. Down in the valley below us are two private cabins, which we didn't even know existed. What a spot to have a cabin!

We had to stop by Hobart Reservoir on the way back to the car. There were a number of folks camping in the area, and many out on the water fishing for Rainbow and Brook Trout. We even learned from a person who had been fishing the area since the 1970s that Lahonton Cutthroat make it to the lake occasionally...somehow.

A couple shots from the way down Ash Canyon Road. This was another 4Low effort like Silver Canyon Road in Bishop, CA, to avoid overheating the brakes. The road had recently been maintained so it was smooth and sandy, with regularly spaced erosion control berms. I hope the road stays in good shape, I'd like to come back here sometime but the ATVs have already started rutting the road.

We regularly see Indian Paintbrush in small clusters of 5-10 flowers. A couple spots along Ash Canyon Road were covered like this...with the largest clusters we have seen.

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