8 Local Hiking Trails You Need to Explore
June 06, 2019
Need fresh hiking trails? These hiking trails offer new views, a different route or the motivation you need to get outside. Of course, whatever you’re looking for this summer, these trails were made for sunshine in Reno-Tahoe.
Easy Hiking Trails
Oxbow Nature Study Area Nature Trail
Location: 3100 Dickerson Road, at the Truckee River.
Parking: There is a parking lot onsite.
Time Out and Back: 30 minutes
Items to Bring: Water, sunscreen and a hat.
Although this loop is just under one mile, it’s the perfect escape in the heart of Reno. And this riverside trail is accessible for all skill levels. Bird watcher? Certainly, keep an eye out for black-crowned night herons, red-shouldered hawks, mule deer, beavers and more wildlife in the area.
Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway – Sections 2 to 4
Location: West Reno to Sparks
Parking: Woodland Drive, Crissie Caughlin Park, Idlewild Park, 1st Street, Rock Park and Spice Island Drive.
Time Out and Back: 2-4 hours (each section, out and back)
Items to Bring: Water, sunscreen and a hat.
From west Reno to Sparks, this paved portion of the trail stretches more than 8 miles. And it is easy to find as it runs along the Truckee River. As one of the easiest hiking trails in the region, it includes numerous parking access points and you can walk as long or short as you desire.
In particular, one great route is from Rock Park on S. Rock Boulevard to Cottonwood Park on Spice Island Drive in Sparks. It’s an easy walk for all hiking levels.
Notably many evening hikers explore this area to view the bats living under the McCarran Bridge. Additionally, an array of birds and river views can also be found along this enjoyable path.
For maps for sections of this path, visit Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway’s website.
Cave Rock Hiking Trail
Location: South Lake Tahoe; turn right on Cave Rock Drive from Highway 50, just prior to the tunnel.
Parking: Park on Cave Rock Drive.
Time Out and Back: 30 minutes
Items to Bring: Water and sunscreen.
Not only does this short trail have breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, but it is also meaningful. Chiefly the rock was created more than three million years ago. Equally important, it is still considered sacred to the Washoe Native Americans. Also, leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.
Moderate Hiking Trails
Steamboat Ditch Trail
Location: To get to the trailhead, take Mayberry Drive in west Reno. Then turn south on Plateau Road and right onto Woodchuck Circle.
Parking: There is a dirt area for limited parking.
Time Out and Back: 3-5 hours
Items to Bring: Water, layers, sunscreen and a hat.
Of all the hiking trails listed, this one offers some of the best views of downtown Reno and the surrounding hillsides. Built by Chinese laborers in the late 1870s, the Steamboat Ditch is the longest ditch in the Truckee Meadows region. In fact, the water serves as a vital source for ranchers and farmers south of Reno.
First, start behind the Patagonia in northwest Reno at the Tom Cooke Trail or park off of Woodchuck Circle. Next head west to find the “Hole in the Wall.” Surprisingly this is a tunnel engineered through the hill, so the ditch could supply water to the Truckee Meadows.
This hike is a little over 8 miles with the halfway point just under 4½ miles. With this in mind, if you’re thinking of hiking with your four-legged friend, remember to bring your leash because rattlesnakes can be spotted. Usually there’s also little shade, so plan accordingly by bringing a hat and dressing in layers.
Thomas Creek Trail
Location: Head out on Mt. Rose Highway going west to Timberline Road. Then drive 1.3 miles past the end of the pavement, stay on Timberline and you will see the trail head on your left shortly after you cross the bridge.
Parking: There is a paved parking area on Timberline Drive.
Time Out to Back: 2-6 hours
Items to Bring: Water, layers, food and a phone with GPS or map.
Definitely put he Thomas Creek Trail on your hiking trails list. Located off of Mt. Rose Highway, it is a very scenic hike winding along Thomas Creek into a Jeffrey pine forest. You may choose to hike to what appears to be the end of the trail (where it meets the road) or continue further up for 1/8 of a mile into the Mt. Rose Wilderness.
Hiking up the trail to the creek crossing, and then taking the dirt road back down is a great way to see the entire canyon. While this hiking trail is closer to 5 miles, it can be shortened by turning around at any point.
Another option is to look for signs to turn off the Thomas Creek Trail at the junction for Dry Pond Loop. Dry Pond is a 4½-mile, out and back hiking trail from the Timberline parking lot. Ultimately you may see a pond or hilltop meadow, depending on the season and weather.
Overall it is possible to go anywhere from 2 to 6 miles (or more), based on what you choose to hike. The gain along the creek is minimal, with an 800-foot gain at the top part of the trail. In particular, watch for mountain bikers, as this is also a very popular biking trail.
Hunter Creek Trail
Location: Go west on Mayberry Drive to Plateau Road. Then turn left and go up the hill to Woodchuck Drive. Lastly, turn right and follow Woodchuck to the hiking trail head.
Parking: Paved parking on Woodchuck Drive with a bathroom and benches.
Time Out and Back: 2-5 hours
Items to Bring: Water, layers, a snack, sturdy shoes and sunscreen.
The Hunter Creek trail is about a 7-mile day hike with a little over 1,000 feet of overall gain leading to a waterfall. Ultimately it’s totally worth the trip!
This hiking trail winds up Hunter Canyon through sagebrush, Jeffrey pines and interesting rock formations. The waterfall is a great place to sit on shaded logs and enjoy lunch. This trek is very rocky and narrow at times, so good trail shoes are recommended. Furry friends should also be leashed, as rattlesnakes and wildlife are common along the trail.
Difficult Hiking Trails
Hidden Valley Loop
Location: Hidden Valley Regional Park; drive east on Pembroke Drive and turn left on Parkway Drive. The park is at the end of the road.
Parking: Park on the east side of the park, closest to the hills.
Time Out and Back: 3-6 hours
Items to Bring: Water, sunscreen, shoes with good traction and a lunch or snack.
Overall this 6-mile loop has about 1,800 feet of gain and is located east of Hidden Valley. We recommend starting the hike from Hidden Valley Regional Park. First, head southeast on a dirt road and then turn east onto a very steep trail that winds over red dirt for about a half mile. In fact, this is the steepest part and it’s a leg burner.
Once you get past the climb, the trail gradient decreases. Then you wind along the south side of a big bowl lined with pinyon pine and juniper trees. The hiking trail continues up to the ridge line where there are incredible views of the Truckee Meadows and Mt. Rose. You can hike back down from this point, but it is best to continue on the trail along the ridge line to where it isn’t as steep with incredible views. Frequently you may see wild horses while hiking in this area.
Location: Southwestern side of Lake Tahoe, between Emerald Bay and Camp Richardson. Turn south on Mt. Tallac Road from Highway 89.
Parking: Follow Mt. Tallac Road to the parking lot.
Time Out and Back: 6 hours
Items to Bring: Water, layers, lunch or snacks, sunglasses, hat, sturdy shoes and sunscreen.
Definitely a big hike with an even bigger reward — an incredible view of the Desolation Wilderness and Lake Tahoe. This hiking trail is 10.5 miles out and back with a 3,500-foot elevation gain. If you’d like to explore the area without the 6-hour commitment, hike 1.7 miles out to Floating Island Lake or 2.3 miles out to Cathedral Lake.
Day use permits are required and you can fill one out for free at the trailhead.