Storey County Highpoint Trip Report

Mount Davidson (7,864 ft)

Date: February 19, 2007
Author: Chad Thomas

I was in Tahoe enjoying a Presidentís Day weekend of skiing and snowshoeing but weeks of little snowfall and potential for rain on Sunday led me to skip the slopes for a day and head down into Reno for the afternoon. Earlier in the week I had printed off some trip reports and a map for Mount Davidson since I was going to be in the area, just in case the opportunity presented itself. It was cloudy but with no rain at the moment and with some time on my hands I headed towards Virginia City a little before 3:00 PM, hoping to find the 4x4 Ophir Canyon grade and make the top before sunset.

As I approached Virginia City, I realized my GPS wasnít with me and I couldnít find my printouts, so I was forced to follow my vague memory of the starting point - determined to put my Tacoma to good use. My wife and I found a dirt road on the north side of town that had potential and headed up. This quickly deteriorated and soon after driving over some 4-foot high brush in the road it became completely impassable. Iím still not sure which road this was but suspect that it may have been in Cedar or Ophir Ravine and it was not what I was looking for.

Just before giving up, we spotted another road on the slopes just adjacent to Mount Davidson on its north side and decided to give it a try. We had no idea at the time but this turned out to be in Spanish Ravine. It wasn't Ophir Canyon Grade but it eventually gave us the access to Mount Davidson we were looking for (I believe this is the road cited in Bill Jacobsís report).

The Spanish Ravine road starts just to the right (north) and below a water tank on the Mount Davidson hillside, immediately north of the signed intersection of Stewart and Taylor streets and west of the central Virginia City area (this is also immediately north of a large dark red house on the hillside). There were a lot of big rocks but, with careful driving, they were easily negotiated with high clearance. After passing the water tank, follow the most obvious paths in the best condition at any forks in the road. The road eventually cuts right onto the ridge of Ophir hill that reaches down to the town below. Stay right when passing a spur to the left which follows some power lines up the hill. The road is extremely steep in places and I doubt it could be climbed without 4x4. It presented us no real problems, although there is one very sharp and steep switchback turn to the right as you head up that made me hold my breath as I seemingly felt as I was about to roll down the hill (this could be avoided by taking a short, overgrown, slightly steeper shortcut straight up the hill that bypasses the switchback).

The road continues straight to the summit of Ophir Hill. Take care as you pass a couple of narrow spots with rocks on either side near the top. From Ophir Hill summit it was comparatively easy going across the saddle towards Mount Davidson. Since it was February but a low snow year, there were just a few patches of snow in the road up to a foot deep that provided a little additional excitement.

We parked near the towers a half mile before the summit but could have driven by them and gotten within one or two hundred yards. Even though it was cloudy we had excellent views and could see a great distance. We went back down the way we came and made it back just before sunset.