Winnemucca Lake - Nightingale Mining District

The Nightingale Mining District is in the Nightingale Mountain Range on the East side of Winnemucca Dry Lake. Although we did this on Gravel Bikes, I think it is best done on a Mountain Bike, especially if you want to go up the canyon to visit the actual mine site, and not just the processing plant at the entrance to the canyon. This mining district sits just north of Nixon, Nv, and just East of Pyramid Lake. The mining district was heavily in use around 1917, and the main camp was the town of Nightingale which lies on the East side of the Nightingale Mountain Range. There was mining activity all around this small range that runs North - South. This ride starts on the West shore of Winnemucca Dry Lake, and stays on the west side of the range. The other starting point is in the town of Nixon. Here are both Strava links: Start from Winnemucca Dry Lake & Start from Nixon.

After starting from both starting points, I think it is easier to start from the west shores of Winnemucca Dry Lake. From Reno, take Pyramid Highway (Hwy 445) to Pyramid Lake. Take a right on Hwy 446 to Nixon, and at the stop sign, turn left on Hwy 447 towards Gerlach. Follow Hwy 447 for 13.3 miles. You will just cross over Reservation Land (you will see a sign), and you will see a dirt parking area on the right side of the road. If you park inside the Reservation boundary, you will have to pay for a permit that can be obtained that the junction of Hwy 446 and 447. This is also the starting point of the first Strava link.

Once at the parking area, grab your bike and stay on the jeep road. I tried to cut strait across the Dry Lake Bed. It went fine till about 1/2 mile from the dirt road on the east side. It was hike a bike through sagebrush, greasebrush, stickers and washes. Not an easy trek. So, take the jeep road. You will be glad that you did. Take the jeep road south and it will skirt the south end of the lake bed, and take you around the eastern flanks of the Dry Lake Bed then heads north. Your main landmark is Black Warrior Point. You will be able to see this mountain for almost the entire trip. It is the huge black pyramid on the Eastern side of the lake.


 Black Warrior Point with a hiking trail up the spine

Black Warrior Point with a hiking trail up the spine


From this picture you can see a hiking trail, if you can really call it that, up the southern spine of the mountain. It is a tough hike, on all 4’s for some of the trip up, the the views from the top is spectacular. I think it is worth the hike, but then some people think I’m a little off. Regardless, continue along this jeep road for 2.3 miles, and you will be at the Old MGL Mine processing plant. There are 2 foundations left here where processed the Tungsten ore for transport to Toulon, Nv., on I-80 between Fernley and Lovelock, Nv. for final processing. Tungsten is a very hard metal that was used in many military applications, ie, saw blades cutting teeth, armor, armor piercing bullets and shells etc. They mined 50,000 Tons of Tungsten ore out of the area, and this amounted to around 20,000 lbs. of pure Tungsten.


 MGL mine processing plant

MGL mine processing plant

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Above is the main processing plant of this site. All the mining was done up the canyon to the left. Take the dirt road up the canyon for just under 2 miles and you will come the the first large wooden mining sluith, and just above that is where the big open pit mine was. You can see the open pit up on the north side of the canyon, and below the open pit is a mine shaft with old ore cart rails crossing the jeep road that you are on. You will also see a small shack on the right side of the road that is full of core samples. Most of the samples are solid granite. You don’t see much surface granite, but all the rock below the surface is nothing but solid granite. Once you cross the ore cart rails, you can continue up the road, but the road dead ends, and there is not much more to see. It is best to explore a bit, then turn around and head back to the car the way you came.

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