Hiking in Northern Nevada

Say the words Reno, Nevada, and the following images might come to mind: casinos, Reno 911, barren desert landscapes, and … waterfalls? OK, so maybe waterfalls don’t exactly spring to mind when one thinks of this gaming-friendly Northern Nevada city, but perhaps they should!  After all, Reno has much more to it than casino attractions (see Reno, Nevada: Much more than Gambling).

 For starters, the areas surrounding Reno offer outdoor- and fitness-oriented buffs a wide variety of hiking trails (you can find several good trail recommendations for this area and others using the American Hiking Society’s Hiking Nevada book, among others). The best thing is that you don’t even have to leave city limits in order to access some of the many trails this area has.

 One such trail is the Hunter Creek trail, a path originating from inside Reno’s affluent Caughlin Ranch neighborhood. It continues for miles into the Toiyabe National Forest into areas where you can do some backpack camping free of charge. However, the trail is perfectly suited for short day trips as well.

 To reach the Hunter Creek trail, park at the very end of a street called Woodchuck Circle (see the location on Google maps here). You will immediately see a wide dirt trail climbing steadily up into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Take this path and make your way through the hills with some caution, as there are a few spots along the trail that contain patches of loose rocks on which the careless hiker can roll an ankle or lose their footing. As when hiking any trail, make sure to wear proper footwear such as boots or other such durable treaded shoes (ordinary running sneakers are often times too slick-soled for hiking).

 Continue along the trail, listening to the nearby babbling creek running just about 40 feet below and parallel to your path throughout most of the trail. The sights and sounds are invigorating, and you frequently come upon spots offering gorgeous views of the surrounding wilderness such as this:


Hunter Creek valley 2Credit: Scooby Meredith


 About two and a half miles into your expedition, you will find yourself in a completely wooded area of the valley where it may very well feel like you’ve left the barren state of Nevada altogether! This densely shaded area provides a great place to rest given its coolness and the good number of fallen trees upon which to sit. Or, you can choose to trek onward for another half mile or so and stop at the nearby waterfall.  During years when the Reno area enjoys massive snowfall over the winter, the waterfall and creek roar aggressively as the snowmelt pours from the surrounding mountains and feeds this beautiful sight:


Hunter Creek WaterfallCredit: Scooby Meredith

The waterfall makes an excellent turnaround point, as it provides you with a good, moderately challenging six-mile roundtrip hike. Depending on your fitness level, or whether you want to do a leisurely walk or a conditioning exercise, the hike can be completed in anywhere between two to four hours. Simply remember to pack plenty of water (at least a half gallon), a snack, sunscreen lotion, and bug spray (the mosquitoes around the waterfall will get you otherwise!) when enjoying this beautiful slice of Northern Nevada hiking.