The Comstock Mining Loop is a technical trail that passes several mining ruins and historical sites significant to the Comstock Lode silver strike in the mountains near Virginia City, Nevada.
The trail follows mountainous double track for a 4.5-mile course, making it a good outing for hikers of moderate ability and technical trail runners who desire a variety of ascents and descents along their path.
The Comstock was the name given to this area, and it is known for being the site of the largest silver strike in history in the late 1850s through 1870s. Much of the wealth here built the metropolis of San Francisco. Though today, abandoned mining structures, exposed open pits, and the tourist town of Virginia City are visible reminders of the area's past. This trail first passes the headframe of the Occidental Mine, which handled ore containing gold and silver from the mine. The trail continues to rise and fall, wrapping around weathered rusted metal, tailings piles, and open shafts.
Another landmark along this trail is the gravesite of Julia C. Bulette, the Comstock's most popular courtesan and madam, whom the firefighters of Virginia City's Engine Company No. 1 made an honorary member. Following her murder in 1867, she received a well-attended funeral, though the "decent" populace felt that a woman of "easy virtue" could not be buried in consecrated ground, so she was buried about a mile east of the town amongst the pinyon trees.
From the gravesite, the buildings of Virginia City come into view, lining the main street that lies in the shadow of Storey County's tallest peak, Mount Davidson (7,822 feet).
The trail then passes the pulley structure of the Combination Mine Shaft, a single vertical shaft that sank 3,250 feet, making it the second-deepest in the world at the time. The mine was a joint effort of four different mining companies. Temperatures for workers deep down this mine shaft often exceeded 130 degrees, forcing them into ice rooms along the the horizontal shafts every half hour.
From here the trail loops back toward the Occidental Mine, offering expansive views of the Virginia Range to the east, reaching its highest point at about 6,280 feet in elevation before beginning to descend back toward the parking area.