Slaters Mine 4x4 Trail Ride!
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The ride to Slaters mine offers a scenic 4x4 experience while traveling to this historical mining site, and there is always the possibility of finding some gold too!
Don’t forget to check for mining activity at the site so as not to trespass (as of September 2011 everything in or around this area is claimed or private property, off limits to mining). Bring a camera, as there are many photo opportunities along the route, too.
Slaters mine is an old placer gold mine remotely located about 15 miles east of Minden/Gardnerville Nevada. There are a half dozen routes leading to this historic mine, ranging from extreme to very mild 4x4. These routes are such that you can take one way in and another way out, in loop fashion, if you wish.
The easiest and most popular route to the mine is to
turn east onto Johnson Lane from Highway 395 between Carson City and Minden. Travel up Johnson lane about 3.5 miles to Fremont Rd. (which eventually turns into East Valley Rd.) then turn right or south, drive another 3.5 miles to Stockyard Rd. (unmarked, look for power lines running alongside the road) and turn left, or east. Follow this dirt road for 15.22 miles to the mine.
You can retrace your route out, or take a scenic loop ending back at Johnson Lane. To make the loop, drive 2.35 miles from the mine’s rock house down the same road you came in on and turn right. Drive north 9.88 miles to Sunrise Pass Rd. and turn left for the easy 10.5 mile drive to Johnson Lane. From Johnson Lane it’s only a 35-minute drive to Lake Tahoe.
Allow a whole day for this excursion and pack plenty of food and water. There are dozens of challenging 4x4 trails to explore along these routes and beyond the mine. Expect to see few or no other travelers on these routes or at the mine. Cell phone reception is good throughout this area.
The Slaters mine is situated at the 7,100 foot elevation in the
Mt. Siegel mining district of the Pine Nut Mountains. The Slaters mine is surrounded by pinion pines, a sprinkling of junipers, and lots of open space, rocks, sagebrush, buck brush and a few aspens near the springs. The area holds plenty of wild horses, some black bears, mule deer, eagles, bobcats, coyotes, marmots, and, of course, rattlesnakes.
I first heard of the Slaters mine around 1970 when the newspapers reported that a $25,000 gold collection from the Slaters mine was stolen from the University of Nevada
from Slaters mine was stolen while on display at the University of Nevada in Reno. Shortly after that, a friend introduced me to Mrs. Slater, who was 98 years old at the time.
Mrs. Slater told me that the family had successfully worked the claim while living on site for many years, in a rock house. Finally though, the Slaters had run out of relatives willing to work the claim, so when a mining promoter offered to find investors and increase the size of the operation, Mrs. Slater agreed.
The promoter raised a few hundred thousand dollars and hired geologists to core drill and explore the property further.
The exploration efforts produced samples and reports (which I read) showing lots of gold potential for a large mining operation. Unfortunately, the promoter decided to skip town with all the investor’s money. Mrs. Slater, disheartened, shut the mine down and locked the entrance gate for good.
I asked if I could go see the mine. Mrs. Slater said "of course," gave me the key to the gate and said "go find some gold and enjoy the mine all you want."
My first trip to the mine was very encouraging. Using the geologists report for guidance, I found about a half ounce of fine placer gold, including a few small nuggets. It seemed as if gold was everywhere the report suggested!
Many friends have found lots of good-sized nuggets there over the years.
There is little evidence of mining, just a small pond with some mining equipment below the old rock house. I have returned to the mine many times over the years to go 4-wheeling, enjoy the scenery and find a little gold to add to my collection. This ride is suitable for most any 4WD vehicle in good shape. Don’t forget to bring a metal detector or gold pan, as there is still lots of gold lying around Slaters mine.
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