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A Leaf Hunter’s Guide to Finding Fall Foliage in Reno-Tahoe

Are you on the hunt for some beautiful leaves? Tis’ the season for aspens, birch, maple, cottonwoods, and oak trees to turn their leaves into a beautiful display of color! Luckily, the Reno-Tahoe area is full of trails with fantastic fall views. One thing to consider if looking for leaves in Reno and Tahoe: if you are on trails with a higher elevation those leaves will usually turn before the ones in low lying areas. Additionally, the major factors that determine the fall foliage are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture, and temperature. Warmer and wetter days will keep the leaves vibrant and on the trees longer, while cold and dry days, especially windy ones, will make the leaves gain less color and fall sooner.

Here are the best places in town to look at leaves!

Hunter Creek Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 6.4 miles

This trail offers excellent views and a waterfall at the end of the hike. There are a diverse range of trees and vegetation. The hike follows a beautiful canyon that is abundant with aspen trees that turn a bright golden yellow.

Galena Creek Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 4.7 miles

This trail is perfect for a quick morning hike or afternoon stroll. Aspen trees line the banks of Galena Creek and when the temperatures get colder the leaves on these trees change into a deep golden yellow. The trail is in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and is dog friendly.

The Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.4 miles

The Tahoe Meadows located right off Mt. Rose Highway is an excellent place for leaf hunting, bird watching, and family friendly hikes. The interpretive trail intersects with the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Ophir Creek Trail and is an amazing spot to explore the Mt. Rose wilderness. The Parks Foundation, US Forest Service, and the Tahoe Meadows Access Ramp Committee are proposing the installation of an accessibility ramp at the roadside trailhead to provide enhanced equity of access to the boardwalks and improve the quality of the recreational experience. These improvements will support the use of this area for all users with any ability to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Tahoe Meadows. If you would like to donate or learn more about this project click here!

Marlette Lake Trail

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 10.2 miles

This trail starts at Spooner Lake and finishes at Marlette Lake. This trail includes miles of golden aspens and is mountain bike friendly as well! If you are in the mood for a more difficult trail or a longer day hike check this one out! If you are looking for an easier option the Spooner Lake loop is a great hike as well.

Upper Thomas Creek Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 14.7 miles

The trail is one of the closest and best spots to see foliage without having to leave town. It is located in southwest Reno at the base of Mt. Rose. This trail follows Thomas Creek so you will have plenty of water and views along the way. The trail has an abundance of aspen trees and is dog friendly!

Other great spots for fall foliage are:

-Page Meadows

-Hope Valley

-White Creek

If you're new to hiking and looking for tips on getting started, check out my other blog A Beginner's Guide to Hiking. You can also check out Breaking Down Barriers - Let's Make Mountain Biking Accessible for a beginner's guide to mountain biking if that's more your forte. Happy trails and happy leaf hunting!


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