Wander Over Yonder: Take to Carson Valley’s trails for a different view (Opinion)
Living in northern Nevada, we are fortunate to have such easy and plentiful access to the great outdoors. It’s proven that getting outside and spending time in nature is good for both our physical and our mental health. And lucky for us, there’s no shortage of amazing trail systems in our region.
Lake Tahoe’s systems incorporate unparalleled vistas and views, encompassing the lake and beyond with seemingly endless possibilities. What could be your next favorite trail might be just waiting for you down the road in Carson Valley. With more than 70 miles of trails, these systems canvas the region offering unique views of the valley, the Eastern Sierra and beyond at all ability levels and best yet – most are accessible all year-round. A trek to Carson Valley offers a chance to explore and appreciate yet another side of Nevada’s natural beauty from two wheels.
Carson Valley’s trails offer accessibility in many ways. The Clear Creek trail system covers 30 miles and includes the 22-mile Clear Creek, the 2-mile Clear Creek Connector and the 6-mile Jacks Valley Loop trails. Load-in and load-out locations include Spooner Summit, Clear Creek Connector, Jacks Valley Road, or the Jacks Valley School or the James Lee Park trailheads. Many of the lower elevation sections of this trail are accessible year-round, maybe this past winter being an exception. Several are new to the system. Hiking, biking, running, and equestrians are all welcome however check the trail maps for best locations if you are hitting the trails hard or leisurely. For the hardcore riders, there are plenty of miles on this flowy, moderate trail system that can quickly have you working up a sweat.
The Genoa Trail System is popular for its challenging climbs, beautiful vistas and diversity in terrain. Open to hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers the system includes just over 17 miles of trails in the Genoa area. The Sierra Canyon Trail offers a 10-mile one-way climb to the Tahoe Rim Trail with views of Lake Tahoe that will leave other envious. This trail system is perfect for bikers looking for a more technical and scenic challenge, however biking on the lower portion of the Genoa Loop trail is not recommended due to its switchbacks and steep drop-offs. This set of trails is a great way for experienced mountain bikers to get in a full day ride and a payoff that’s nothing short of perfect – a cold drink at the oldest established saloon in Nevada, the Genoa Bar.
For day hikers, the Fay-Luther and Jobs Peak Ranch Trails system is a phenomenal trail system. With about nine miles of trails to choose from in this group of loops and connecting trails, it’s a place to come back time and time again and get a new experience each time.
On the other side of Carson Valley are some lesser-known trails and hidden treasures for outdoor enthusiasts looking for something a little less traversed. The Pinyon Trail is a 5-mile roundtrip loop located about seven miles outside of Gardnerville. A non-motorized trail, it’s open to hikers, bikers, equestrians, the trail offers nice views of the Pine Nut and Carson Ranges and offers some shade in pinyon pines and junipers throughout. For those on ATVs and other motorsports, the Pine Nut Range offers miles of unmarked and endless trails that head into BLM land.
The most ideal times for Carson Valley’s trail is spring to early summer and fall to early winter. For anyone exploring with their pup, spring offers plentiful water for the dogs and makes for beautiful scenery with the lush spring greens and bright wildflowers exploding all over the landscape. In fall, the temperatures cool off with still enough light to provide plenty of time to enjoy Nevada’s fall colors.
No matter why you choose to get outside and hit the trails – mental clarity, physical health, or any other reason – Carson Valley’s trails are definitely worth “wandering over yonder.”
Kate Blake was raised in Carson Valley and is a nurse and trail enthusiast. She grew up hiking all over Nevada with her dad, developing a love for the outdoors. Kate has helped develop trails throughout Carson Valley including sections of the Clear Creek and Genoa Trails Systems. Kate still hikes at least once a week with her number one trail partner, her dog, Cash.
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