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Pahrump community celebrates Southside Trailhead opening

The Southside Trailhead saw its grand opening this past weekend and officials with the town of Pahrump and Nye County gathered for a celebration that included a ribbon cutting along with early morning trail rides for both equestrian and off-highway-vehicle enthusiasts.

“We had a nice event this weekend,” Nye County Commissioner Debra Strickland said with evident delight. Strickland played a major role in the development of the trailhead, having saved it from possible abandonment and worked to see it through to completion.

“This is Pahrump’s first trailhead! I can’t even believe it, because so many other places do, I mean, Beatty has them, Rhyolite has them! It’s exciting because we want to see our community be a destination point for fun,” Strickland stated.

Hosted Sunday, May 5, the opening ceremonies were held in conjunction with the Wild West Extravaganza and one of the main focuses was the Pony Express Trail Ride.

In honor of the method in which those in the West used to receive their mail, a group of riders comes together each year to relive the tradition.

“They did the Pony Express portion of the trail ride in a relay race, so two horses left from the trailhead and along the route to Petrack Park and the Wild West Extravaganza, they switched and switched, changing the mail over to the next horses, just like the original Pony Express.”

Strickland was one of those who had brought the Pony Express to Pahrump 19 years ago and she was glowing with excitement that the event has continued for so long.

That first year, 24 riders took part, Strickland informed, riding across the desert from the Pahrump arena to Bob Baker’s hoedown at Longstreet Casino, a 36-mile ride. The following year, the Wild West Extravaganza was born and the two events have been intrinsically linked ever since.

“Sharon Wehrly was on that original ride, Wade Lieseke was on that ride, and next year for the Wild West Extravaganza we want to get as many of the original 24 riders as we can and bring them in to join us and recognize them. That will be cool,” Strickland detailed.

In addition to the Pony Express Trail Ride, the grand opening of Southside Trailhead included a ride for those who prefer a more motorized form of movement.

“We had 14 off-highway vehicles that were side-by-sides and 4-wheelers and they were in three different groups who all went a different way,” Strickland said of the event. “We went way up into Carpenter Canyon with one group of the side-by-sides and the others rode the trails immediately around the trailhead, and the horses took the quickest route to Petrack Park, where we all ended up when it was done.”

There were even residents from over the hill in Las Vegas who had trekked out to Pahrump to discover what the valley has to offer. “They had no idea how much we have out here to ride!” Strickland enthused.

The Southside Trailhead now consists of a gravel parking lot, where recreational riders can legally park their vehicles and trailers and safely ready their horses and equipment in preparation to tackle the trails.

The location also contains a portable toilet and a dumpster, which will remain on site to help keep the area and the valley’s trails clean. Strickland said the next improvement at the Southside Trailhead is to put up a one-day shade structure and the goal is to ultimately have a round pen as well.

This is just the beginning, Strickland explained, remarking that the process to establish another trailhead is already underway. The hope is to have that new trailhead ready for its grand opening this time next year, so it can be incorporated into the Wild West Extravaganza as well.

“Jim Hannah (Wild West Extravaganza event organizer) wants me to find something off Pahrump Valley Boulevard, somewhere off that direction. We’re working toward our next set of trailheads. We’d like to have several trailheads all over the valley, interconnecting, with kiosks that say, if you go from here you’ll find a trailhead and if you follow the trails, you’ll find the next one. That’s what we’re working toward,” Strickland concluded.

The Southside Trailhead is at 9301 S. Homestead Road.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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