Editor’s Note: As part of the Carson Valley Times venture, we’re aiming to feature at least one day trip per month, exploring the area that so beautifully surrounds our Valley and hopefully turning our readers onto some new adventures along the way. If you have an area or destination you’d like us to explore in the future, e-mail your ideas to email@example.com
The criteria is simple. Somewhere within a 3-4 hour drive that defines the very idea of a getaway for you. Generally, the shorter the drive, the better.
EBBETS PASS & KINNEY RESERVOIR
Story and photos by Charlie Pankey
Drive time: 1 – 1.5 hours depending on Bikers on the road and comfort of speed on Highway 4.
Out our back-door in Douglas County awaits many adventures for individuals or families that like to escape to the mountains and find remote lakes, cool streams or just soak in the beauty of the Sierra Mountain Range.
The Trip up Ebbett’s Pass is something of a thrill seeker’s drive as the road for a good portion is barely wide enough for one vehicle let alone oncoming traffic and the various talents of local and international cyclists that train on this pass for bike races such as the Death Ride.
But this destination is worth the drive and the adventure for those looking to find a little peace in their busy lives or to find some great fishing. Kinney Reservoir sits at almost 8,000 feet in elevation and was my destination of choice for the day. I love mountain lakes and the adventure up Ebbett’s pass is something I enjoy from time to time.
From Minden and Gardnerville, take Highway 88 heading South towards California and Kirkwood Ski Resort until you reach Woodfords. You then take a left at Woodfords on Highway 89 towards Markleeville. Markleeville in itself is great afternoon adventure with campgrounds, hot springs, hiking and great local dining options.
I stopped in Markleeville at the visitors center, located just as you get into town on the right. I grabbed a couple hiking maps and talked to the ladies about the drive ahead. They told me that all the trails were pretty much clear of snow at this point and the lakes were full.
On my way again, the next hour of my drive would be pretty slow. Lots of bike teams along the Carson River and heading up the mountain. The Carson River was also teaming with local fisherman and high school aged kids decked out in swim suits at several local swimming holes.
Highway 89 will break off onto Highway 4 about 10 miles out of town. Stay to the right and head up Highway 4 .
About 20 minutes past Markleeville, you start up the Ebbett’s Pass Grade. The road is very tight but it gives you some great views. You will cross over Silver Creek on your way up the mountain, about a quarter-mile downhill from the Silver Creek Campground. I will get back to this spot but it is worth a pull over and inspection.
As you wind up Highway 4, pay attention to the road on the tight corners. The narrow road demands your attention but turn outs are a great spot to get some great photos of the valley.
As you reach the first peak on Ebbett’s pass you will discover a great old cabin pitched up to the left, like the Castle to the Valley. Don’t know who owns this property, but I am jealous. On this day I travel on for another 10 minutes up the pass until I reach Kinney Reservoir. The water is so blue and the lake is right on the highway. What a great view and if you have never been on the road, it is one of several lakes that catch you by surprise on Highway 4.
Today parking around the lake was a bit full so I continued up the mountain looking for the best place to park and enjoy the lake. About a half-mile up the road, I discovered a parking area for the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT). Met a group of hikers that had just finished a stretch from Wolf Creek and were waiting for partners to go on to Upper Kinney reservoir on the PCT.
I’m told that this hike to the Upper and Lower Kinney lake are worth it so I will be coming back to hike in at later date.
Today’s destination, however, was Kinney Reservoir. I headed back down the mountain and found a pull off for parking my truck, hiked down the slop to a private little rock out cropping and set up camp to enjoy a day on the lake.
There were a couple fishing teams on both sides of me and a group of kids on the other side of the lake goofing off, but other than that the water was clear, quiet and cool, the fish were jumping and the forest was making a great sound as the wind rippled through the trees. It was beautiful, relaxing and refreshing as the Valley this day was 104 and I can’t stand the heat.
After a couple hours of playing in the water, soaking in the sun in the quiet I knew it was time to turn around and head home. I was looking for one last opportunity to relax and cool down so I stopped back by the Silver Creek Falls. To my surprise, the water fall has carved out a nice little pool on one level that was perfect for a quick dip and great view of the valley as cars speed by. They didn’t even know I was there. That was just about bliss for me. Water was warmer than Lake Tahoe and I am sure that the creek gets smaller as summer progresses but I will remember this spot on future visits.
Time to head home as I am getting hungry, Stopped off at Woodfords for a quick sandwich but they are only open until 4 p.m. Must remember for future trips. Good thing it was only 15 minutes back to the house and some BBQ.