Carson Valley trail systems seeing spring activity
Having an epic winter season can mean being able to ski in the summer months, but the downside is the lingering snow on your favorite trails. What to do? Don’t worry, Carson Valley is just a hop, skip and a jump away, and there you will find that many trails are snow-free and dry.
“We have quite a number of trails on the west side of the valley,” said Barb Wilson, VP of marketing and publicity for nonprofit Carson Valley Trails Association. “One of them actually connects up to the Tahoe Rim Trail. That’s the Sierra Canyon Trail. All of these trails are accessible to just about anyone.”
According to Wilson, the Sierra Canyon Trail is about 10-miles, uphill and connects around the Spooner Summit area. She said that it is mostly clear, but once on the last few miles of Sierra Canyon, approaching the Tahoe Rim Trail, hikers may encounter some light snow. The Sierra Canyon Trail also connects with the Genoa trail system.
The Pinyon Trail would also be a good choice for someone looking for a little less demanding of a hike. The Pinyon trail is near Gardnerville, Nevada, and is a loop trail. It offers a five-mile round trip and is open to hikers, equestrian, mountain bikes and dogs. Most of the trails in the Carson Valley are multi-use trails, but it is suggested to check for any possible use restrictions.
A little more extensive and south of Lake Tahoe, the Fay-Luther and Job’s Peak Ranch trail system has some options for beginners as well as seasoned hikers.
“It’s a trail system that has two different trailheads,” Wilson explained. “You could do the whole thing or do some loops.”
The Eagle Ridge Trail has become very popular with locals and tourists over the years. The trail is about a 4-mile trek and is located adjacent to Jacks Valley Road. This trail has some outstanding views of the Carson Valley so it may have some heavy traffic at times.
“Some of the trails I haven’t been on,” said Wilson. “The ones that I have been on are on the west side. Every single one of them gives you beautiful views of the valley. You can see the water too so it’s probably a good place to see what’s happening with the snowmelt.”
River Fork Ranch, which is near Genoa, was under water for a portion of the winter, but has since dried out enough for hiking. Since it is on protected land, the trail is only open to hikers and mountain bikers. No equestrian or dogs are permitted. This is an area with a lot of wildlife so if you’re an amateur birder, this would be the place to go.
If mountain biking is your game, you may want to stay on Jacks Valley Road and go to Clear Creek Trail. This is a hot spot for the sport and it will not disappoint.
Around mid-valley, near the Carson River, the Bentley Heritage Trail has several miles to hike, but it is only accessible on foot since it is on private land.
There is a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping the trails open and accessible, which tends to be almost year round. Trail workdays in the Carson Valley area have been underway since earlier in the winter.
“We’ve had a couple dozen already this year,” said Jeremy Vlcan, vice president of trail operations for CVTA. “We’re pretty much done for now, but we will have some more sporadically.”
Vlcan said February and March are typically some of the busiest months for trail maintenance and CVTA likes to have most of the work done by the time spring rolls around. According to Vlcan, the trails are already seeing a lot of activity and that will likely increase as more people seek dry tails to hike.
“It’s not uncommon on the weekend for us to have 500 or 750 people a day on the trails,” he explained. “In the heat of the summer, we still get a lot of use from the locals, usually in the mornings and evenings, but a lot of people hike the trails near the lake.”
CVTA will have some upcoming events for National Trails Day, Saturday, June 3.
For more information on trails in the Carson Valley area, visit carsonvalleytrails.org