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Toiyabe Crest National Recreation Trail

Just one of Nevada's many beautiful backpacking trails in the rugged and remote wilderness of the Toiyabe Mountain Range.
Trail Uses
Hiking Mountain biking Horseback riding
Location
Lander County
Length
65.00 miles (One Way)
Difficulty
Moderate, Difficult
Towns
Austin, Tonopah
Surface
Dirt
Pets
Permitted on Leash
Fees
No
Wilderness Areas
Arc Dome Wilderness Area

Description

The Toiyabe Crest National Recreation trail (TCT) is a beautiful 62 mile trail suitable for experienced backpackers and mountain bikers (north of Ophir Pass) due to its ruggedness. The elevation begins around 6,345' and reaches its peak at 11,775'. Starting at the north end of the trail and heading south, the trail can be accessed at the Kingston Canyon trailhead and starting at the southern end the trail can be accessed via the South Twin River trail. For mountain bikers, the southern end for legal access is Ophir Pass. Parking is available at both the north and south trailheads. The best time to hike or ride this trail is from mid-June to early October. Snow typically melts out by early June, and despite the weather being generally good, afternoon summertime thunderstorms are always a possibility.

This trail can be hiked in as long as 7 days but the time you would like to take is up to you. There are several connecting trails once you get into the Arc Dome wilderness to make your adventure as long or as short as you would like. There are also several connecting trails north of the Wilderness boundary, particularly Washington and South San Juan Creek trail that offer excellent loop options. For mountain bikers wanting to ride either a loop or point to point, south to north is the recommended direction.

The recommended route starting from the North - 

Day 1: Kingston trailhead to Washington Creek

  • The trail ascends 3,000 vertical feet from Groves Lake, the first half very steep, the second half not as steep with commanding views of Bunker Hill and the Reese River Valley as you climb. Once up to 10,500 elevation, the trail undulates twice before reaching Carseley Saddle, then dropping into Washington Creek drainage. The trail is maintained and easy to follow from Kingston to Washington Creek, although signage is currently lacking, so good navigation skills are required.

Day 2: Washington Creek to South San Juan Creek

  • After climbing back out of Washington Creek drainage towards the south, the TCT reaches 9,000 feet elevation, traversing above Cottonwood Canyon, through numerous aspen groves underneath Toiyabe Range Peak before descending into and climbing out of Main San Juan Canyon. There are numerous springs along this stretch of trail, so water is not an issue. The trail is maintained. South San Juan Canyon trail was cleared in 2021, and is an ideal access point to the TCT for mountain bikes, hikers and equestrians as San Juan Canyon offers excellent dispersed camping.

Day 3: South San Juan Creek to Marysville Canyon

  • From South San Juan into Tierney Creek the TCT is clear and easy to navigate, but as of August 2023, the TCT south of Tierney Creek is overgrown and harder to follow. A Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant has funded ongoing maintenance on this portion of trail south to Ophir Pass, with expected completion by 2025. Marysville and Mohawk Canyons are currently impassible, but are part of the project and will be cleared for improved access. Water is available every 3 to 5 miles along this portion.

Day 4: Marysville Canyon to Ophir Pass 

  • From Marysville Canyon to Ophir Pass is overgrown for approximately four miles, with the trail climbing steadily more than 2,500 vertical feet to Ophir Pass. There is no water south of Marysville Creek to Ophir Pass. Once past Mohawk Canyon intersection TCT has less overgrown vegetation and is easier to navigate all the way to Ophir Pass and the Arc Dome Wilderness boundary. There are a couple of parking spaces available on Ophir Pass. Mountain bikes are not permitted in Arc Dome Wilderness. Camp for the night can be found at peak 10,375 just south of Ophir Pass along the TCT, or one mile down Ophir Pass road to the west.

Day 5: Peak 10,375 to Reese River 

  • This section will pass through several aspen groves and ponds. For a quick side trail, you can take the Arc Dome trail to reach the Arc Dome summit. As the day winds to an end, the trail will be on its descent. The trail is very steep and may disappear and reappear here and there. 

Day 6: Reese River to South Twin Tributary 

  • One old historic cabins is located along this trail segment along with other campsites,  offering shelter from storms or for camping. This trail will eventually lead to the South Twin River where you can set up camp for the night. 

Day 7: South Twin Tributary to south twin River trailhead. 

  • This section has several river crossings and traverses through more brushy areas and follows along small canyons. As you end the trail keep your eyes out for an old water wheel and you will know you are on the right trail!

 

For an in depth look at the history of the Toiyabe Crest National Recreation Trail watch this short video from PBS Reno! 

Other Information

Click here to read more about the Toiyabe Crest Revitalization project!

Motorized travel and mountain biking is not permitted within the Arc Dome Wilderness area. 

Cell phone service is very spotty throughout the range. Be sure to be prepared and notify people of your travels ahead of time. An emergency satellite beacon is highly recommended. 

Portions of the trail are unmaintained and require keen navigational skills and some bushwhacking to stay on trail. Some segments may be harder to mountain bike than others and will require you to walk your bike. 

Given that portions of the Toiyabe Mountain Range are designated wilderness, only hikers and equestrians are allowed within the wilderness boundary. Motorized and mechanized use is only permitted on surrounding non-wilderness trails. Please be respectful of the wilderness boundary and only travel on designated roads and trails for your activity type. Horses are allowed and only certified weed free hay can be brought in. Currently, USDA Forest Service policy considers E-Bikes to be motorized vehicles, and therefore, are restricted to roads and trails designated for motorized use.

Trail Manager

For additional information visit the U.S Forest Service website or contact:

U.S Forest Service - Austin - Tonopah Ranger District

U.S Forest Service - Austin - Tonopah Ranger District
Austin:
100 Midas Canyon Rd. Austin, NV. 89310
P.O. Box 130

Tonopah:
1400 S. Erie Main St. Tonopah, NV. 89049
P.O. Box 3940


Phone: 775-964-2671
View website

US Forest Service - Ely Ranger District Office

US Forest Service - Ely Ranger District Office
825 Avenue E
Ely, Nevada 89301
Phone: (775) 289-3031
View website

Download

Download map files for your own use.

Recreate Responsibly

Respect Wildlife
Avoid known animal mating or nesting areas during sensitive times.
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Trailhead Information

The Toiyabe Crest National Recreation Trail can be accessed through several trailhead points. 

From the north, the trailhead is located near Groves Lake and Groves Lake campground on Kingston Canyon Rd. From the south end, the trail can be accessed vis South Twin Forks trailhead. Parking is available at both trailheads. A 4WD, High-Clearance vehicle is recommended when attempting to accesses this trail via the connecting trails. If you are accessing the trail from the Kingston Canyon trailhead or the South Twin River trailhead a passenger car vehicle will be able to traverse these roads. 

Several spur trails also allow access to the trail; Washington Creek Trailhead, Marysville Trailhead, Columbine trailhead and campground, North/South Twin trailheads. 

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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