Above the V to the top of Storey
Mount Davidson sits directly above Virginia City, and can be readily identified by the white "V" of painted rocks adorning its slopes above town. This is a short and sweet hike that leaves directly from the historic mining-turned tourist town of Virginia City, and follows Spanish Ravine to the higher reaches of the Virginia Range. Mount Davidson is also the highest point in in Storey County and the Virginia Range. The hike breaks into two distinct segments: the first is a steep, rocky push to near the main ridgeline of the Virginia Range, while the second is a far gentler, cruising ridgewalk to the summit. There is virtually no shade on the route, but that means the views are great throughout. Others have reached Mt Davidson by driving up the Ophir Grade, which approaches from the south and west before it meets this route for the final ridgewalk to Davidson's summit. Given the short and straightforward nature of the hike from Virginia City, save the wear on your wheels and hike it from town!
From the paved parking area, head over to the start of the dirt road that wastes no time climbing up Spanish Ravine. You'll soon pass a couple of side roads coming in from the right and left, respectively, but stay on the main course as you climb. This road is steep, loose, and rocky, and will stay that way for awhile. At 0.4 miles and 400 feet above your car, you'll come across an even steeper two-track on your left that leaves the main road and follows some old telephone poles directly up Spanish Gulch. Turn left and follow this, picking up 600 more steep and rocky feet in the next 0.4 miles. The grade abruptly eases at 7400', and now most of the climbing is behind you with 1.25 miles left to the top. Keep following the two-track as it flattens and crosses to the south side of Spanish Ravine. You might even see some "wild" horses about in this stretch. After passing beneath some visible radio tower equipment on the Mountain Davidson ridge, you'll resume climbing, and after a short distance, will reach a well-developed dirt road at the main crest of the Virginia Range. Here, you'll see great views of Washoe Lake, Mount Rose, and Reno off to the west. From here, simply turn left and follow this stretch of easy road-walking up and over a couple of false summits, heading back towards the east for Davidson's obvious summit. The road peters out shortly before the summit, but a use trail takes you the rest of the way to the top over a couple rocky spots. Either return the way you came, or return over Ophir Hill via the dirt road that you've been enjoying for a bit, which will eventually carry you all the way back to where you left the ascent route 0.4 miles in. This route could easily be used as the ascent route, too. The road, while wider and clearly sees more use than the two-track in Spanish Ravine, is also quite steep, rocky, and loose. Return to your car and then go explore Virginia City!
None, bring what you need along
There is no shortage of interesting history in Virginia City and the surrounding area, and virtually all of it centers on mining and the famous Comstock Lode, which was first discovered on the east slopes of Mt Davidson. The Comstock Lode's discovery and associated silver rush led to the boom of Virginia City in the early 1860s. It even led to the establishment of a U.S. mint in Carson City, which eventually closed in 1893. Production declined in the area in the late 1870s, but the town remains a tourist attraction that has held onto its mining roots. Old mine shafts and exploratory pits can be seen throughout the hike to the top of Mt Davidson.
Mark Twain lived in Virginia City for awhile, and Mount Davidson made an appearance in his book, "Roughing It," as he wrote about the U.S. flag that made an appearance each Fourth of July on the mountain's summit above town.
No camping is available at the trailhead. BLM land surrounds the city, though, including much of the ascent route. The mountain is within a 45 minute drive of both Reno and Carson City, if you are staying in that area.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.