Toiyabe National Forest Overview
The Toiyabe is a forest of the Great Basin, the region that lies between the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and the Sierra Nevada of California. The forest's prairies, granite canyons and snowcapped mountain peaks spread from the eastern part of California to the central Nevada. The Toiyabe's ranger districts are separated by as much as 500 miles. With so much distance, the scenery, topography, climate, and wildlife can vary widely.
The Spring Mountain National Recreation Area is a favorite of many. Formerly known as the Las Vegas Ranger District, this fascinating district contains five eco-zones ranging from the Southern Desert Shrub to the Pseudo-Alpine zone. The wide variety of ecosystems relates to the rapid elevation ranges—from 4,500 feet to 11,918 feet on the Charleston Peak. All this high mountain country provides escape from the summer desert heat and the lights and sounds of the city of Las Vegas. The Toiyabe has eight designated wilderness areas. Highlights include the Hoover, which is a long thin sliver of sharp, glaciated peaks edging Yosemite National Park; the Carson-Iceberg, which straddles the Sierra crest; and the canyon-studded Mokolumne.
Hike Robinson Creek Trail
This trail enters the rugged Wilderness Boundary within the first few miles as it traverses beneath aspen, Jeffrey pines, and sagebrush meadows. It then travels along rocky and coarse terrain and over running streams, where the area's landlocked kokanee salmon thrive during the fall months. Hikers who reach the Sierra granite peaks towards the end will see the mountain's alpine lakes and beautiful striking shades of natural color. Eventually, the trail leads to the Hoover and Yosemite Wildernesses.
Camp Pine Creek
Pine Creek Campground lies at an elevation of 6,500 feet and is 70 miles from Tonopah. This cold mountain stream flows through the 24-site campground. Nearby attractions include fishing streams and access to the Alta Toquima Wilderness, where the Toquima Range offers some great hiking—including some trails that lead to the 11,949-foot Mount Jefferson, Taiyobe National Forest's highest peak.
Ride the Range of the Carson-Iceberg
Visitors are only allowed in this wilderness on foot or horseback. Many of the Carson-Iceberg's 195 miles of horseback riding trails roam through this Sierra Nevada wilderness. Its scenic granite canyons and volcanic peaks provide a true wilderness experience.
While traveling through Toiyabe, you are bound to encounter some of its mountain wildlife. The forest's residents include a great deal of mule deer, elk herds, beavers, and bats. While these animals have a fairly high chance of being seen in the wild, others do not. Black bears, cougars, bighorn sheep, and wild horses are present in the forest, but it is often difficult to view them in their natural habitat because of their tendency to avoid human contact.
Fish the Monitor Range
This area of the Tonopah Ranger District has a variety of fishing opportunities along some mountain creeks. Four specific creeks—the Mosquito, Barley, Cottonwood, and Clear—offer a collection of brown, rainbow, and brook trout.
Bike Yaney Canyon Mountain
The Bridgeport Ranger District is known to foster great mountain biking. One great trail is the 4.5-mile loop leading to Yaney Canyon Mountain, which travels along challenging rocky terrain, canyons, and beneath the forest's aspens. At the top of the mountain, you will pass the scenic peak to your left while traveling among the wildflowers and sage. You will then begin the exhilarating, though technical, descent downward.
Ski the Sweetwater Mountains
Though many parts of Toiyabe don't have groomed trails, many places do have great places to go cross-country skiing. The Sweetwater Mountains are 16 miles north of Bridgeport, and are a favorite place for their spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada. Some other great places to try are Bodie State Historic State Park and Virginia Creek Road, all in the Bridgeport area.
Climb the Sawtooth Ridge
Like the nearby Yosemite National Park, Toiyabe also has some great rock-climbing sites. The Hoover Wilderness, which is characterized by rugged mountains and steep canyons, is a prime site for climbing and bouldering in the area. Some climbs in Class II and Class III can be found on Matterhorn Peak, which is part of the Sawtooth Ridge. More difficult climbs in Classes III-V can be found off of Tamarack Lane Trail, which also leads to the Hoover Wilderness.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication