Hiking is the best way to have an adventure close to home, but after moving my home from New York to Reno, I was unsure of the hiking adventures I could have out here. So I collected a list of some of my Reno-raised co-workers favorite hiking trails and hotspots and tested them out myself. Here are my first 9 hikes in Reno.
Davis Creek was the first place I visited for my “blog adventure.” I followed the Discovery Trail in order to avoid running into any horses. One of the things I loved about it was that it started and ended with a gorgeous view of Washoe Lake. It was comforting to hike among the trees and smell the heavy scent of pine needles, reminding me of some of my favorite hiking spots back home. Some of the trails in Davis Creek actually connect with the Mt. Rose Wilderness and during the middle of the hike, I found out from another hiker that I had ended up on an 8 mile trail to the Wilderness. Oops.
Galena Creek was my second trip and I was fortunate enough to be able to go out to visit on Nevada Day. While I was planning my trip, I learned that Galena as well as some of my other hiking suggestions were prime black bear real estate. Being from a suburban New York town, the only bears I was used to seeing were gummy bears, but that wasn’t enough to stop me from going. My plan was to complete the Jones Whites Creek Loop. Things were going great, until I got lost…again. I accidentally made a wrong turn and ended up on the Dry Pond trail. Instead of turning back, I decided to follow Thomas Creek until I made my way up Whites Creek and back to my starting point. I still had a ton of fun and Galena has become a favorite for me. I was just disappointed that after all my worrying, there was not a single bear to be seen.
Mount Rose was my third trip and easily my favorite. At the time, I was ambitious and decided to attempt this hike the day after my trip to Galena. Normally, I’m a social butterfly but when I hike alone I’m a lone wolf. I don’t actively seek conversation with other hikers. But this hike was different. I started talking with some of the other hikers and surprisingly, they were eager to start a conversation with me. I bonded with a lovely couple over our mutual trips to Iceland while we were walking to Galena Falls. About halfway to the summit, I met three guys who gave me suggestions about other favorite local spots. One of them was even a volunteer with the Parks Foundation. Near the Summit, I met “The Mountaineer with the Pink Backpack,” his words not mine, who pointed out all the surrounding peaks and told me their names, suggested a few hiking trails and even gave me some experienced hiking tips. I even met a dog named Charlie, who gave me encouraging licks and hugs when I thought my legs were going to fall off. The view and the cell phone service were amazing. I managed to FaceTime my friend and my sister at the peak and show them the incredible views. I may have been the last one off the mountain and I was sore for a week, but at least I didn’t get lost this time.
Rancho San Rafael Park
Rancho San Rafael was my fourth trip and is a quick five minute drive from my apartment. My curiosity led me not just to a beautiful park, but to a piece of home that I had missed since moving to Reno. The first gate I walked through led me to the trees of the east coast, the same trees I could find in my New York backyard. The beautiful trees that changed colors and fell in droves during the fall and reminded me of apple cider, leaf piles and lit fireplaces. I hadn’t realized how much I missed them until then. Rancho San Rafael has become a special place to me, because it was here that I found my east coast fall in the wild wild west.
Hunter Creek was the fifth trip and it certainly met all my expectations and then some. I was really excited for this hike because I have a love for waterfalls. But a few days before, a few of my colleagues were skeptical that the waterfall would be flowing at all due to how late in the season it was. That being said, my hike started off…wet. The trail began with a river crossing that was not only raging, but also covered partly in ice. About halfway to the waterfall, the atmosphere, the temperature, even the terrain changed drastically into a cool forest grove. It’s otherworldly as you walk under the tall trees and there’s something whimsical about having to cross a log bridge in order to reach the waterfall. Try not to fall in! I also met this great couple on a hike date who talked about their love of the trail. The waterfall itself was incredible and completely unperturbed by the ice on its surface.
Thomas Creek was my sixth trip and I had briefly seen it when I got lost on my hike at Galena Creek. I could have easily marked it as done, but I hate taking the lazy way when it comes to something I enjoy. The trail looked completely different this time around. The leaves had fallen off all the trees, ice covered some of the creek, and there was even snow in some places. I met a lot of people on this hike as well, including Evelyn from the bay area who, like many of the people I met, was trying to escape the smoke and air quality of the California fires. We talked about Reno, the Parks Foundation, and about volunteering opportunities. I directed her to our website to learn more about the organization and she pointed me to a picturesque bench near one of the river crossings to stop and relax. On my search to find this bench spot, I came across a few trail gems. I found a random swing just off the trail, where I spent 30 minutes swinging carefree, a crashed old model car that had a humorous “NO PARKING” sign placed on the undercarriage, and a wet and muddy Golden Retriever who just had to say hello. When I did reach this spot, it was worth all the hype. It looked like something off a greeting card or inspirational poster and anyone looking for inspiration should definitely stop by. Shockingly, on my way back I got lost again. I guess old habits die hard.
Washoe Lake was my seventh trip and was as educational as it was fun. The first time I visited Washoe Lake was to take part in the monthly Full Moon Hike. She taught me all about the lake, some of the plants, the equestrian obstacles and even showed me my full moon shadow. On my second visit, I came back in the daylight. I hiked up Deadman’s Trail to the overhang, got slightly lost on the way up, and learned fun trail, plant, and wildlife facts from the signs that lined the trail. It’s a striking view from the top with a perfect scope of the Carson Range, Mount Rose, and Slide Mountain. Before the sun set, I hiked past the sand dunes and saw my very first Jackrabbit.
University Ridge Park
This was my eighth trip and it was a quick one. This park was suggested as a great place to look at the lights of Reno when the sun sets. They were right! It does look great in the day, but it is stunning to see all the casinos lit up at night. It’s a nice easy hike, but a small park with an incredible view of the city scape. My visit was a welcomed break from all the long hikes I had been on.
Palamino Valley Adoption Center
Growing up, I had always wanted to see wild horses running through valleys and fields. So when I learned there was a wild horse adoption center, I put it on my list. It’s located in the middle of the most beautiful mountain views I’ve ever seen. They let me walk around and look at the herd. They have horses of all different sizes, stocks, colors and attitudes. They even have burros! The Bureau of Land Management monitors where these herds live and only remove them if the land doesn’t have enough resources to sustain them, saving them from a fate of starvation and dehydration. They have adoption events to help find fantastic homes for some of the horses, one of which is running currently through December 4. Check out this link if you’re looking to adopt. You can also find information on “Wild Horse Watching” to see the spirit of the west for yourself.
Traveling to these places was just the adventure I needed. I’ve learned so much, like how bears are afraid of whistles and that I need to invest in a compass, but mostly that new places have so much to offer. While the internet has a lot of suggestions, the best person to ask is a local.
Contributing Writer: Courtney Scott
Contributing Photographer: Courtney Scott
Contributor Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org