Monday, May 26, 2014

Carson City: An Outdoor Lovers Paradise

We're wrapping up a 10 day stay in Carson City and have enjoyed ourselves immensely! Turns out this area cares a lot about their outdoor recreation. There are miles of existing trails and several groups are working hard to build even more. We talked to several friendly local hikers and mountain bikers on the trails and found that whether you like to hike, run, mountain bike or enjoy winter sports, you will be happy here.

The Carson Valley Trails Association builds and maintains trails in and around the huge valley South of Carson City. Muscle Powered Carson City works with the City on trails in the immediate vicinity of town. This Carson City link lists dozens of trails, including many around nearby Lake Tahoe.

The low hills surrounding Carson Valley are sage-covered and offer expansive vistas of the many snow capped peaks in the Sierras and beyond. When the weather warms up you can head up the forested trails all the way up to Lake Tahoe country, or just drive up to Tahoe and start your hike at 6500 feet.

Here's some shots from a few hikes close to Carson City:

Bullocks Oriole in the sage brush of Jacks Valley.

It's been a pretty dry winter so the Sierras have less snow than usual for May, but they still make a pretty picture!
Locals told us some years they'll be surrounded by snowy peaks all summer.

Coming off the Clear Creek trail the clouds were building up to the East.

The beautiful Long Nosed Leopard Lizard
Hiking Ash Creek Canyon will get you up into the trees.

Poor quality cell phone photo...but we were cracking up at these deer peering over the top of a hill at us!

A short distance North of town is Davis Creek Regional Park. This was our access point for an eight mile round trip hike up Ophir Creek Trail to Rock Lake. Though Ophir Creek trail continues all the way UP to Tahoe Meadows, we were plenty happy with the eight miles we was pretty strenuous!

An interesting thing about Ophir Creek Trail, it passes through an area devastated by an enormous landslide in 1983. At several places along the trail you can see evidence of ongoing slide activity in this granite landscape.

The decomposing granite walls of this canyon are extremely unstable.

Ophir Creek flows through this canyon full of granite boulders from landslides.
Slide Mountain above was the site of the 1983 landslide and is so unstable it has not completely reforested.

Ophir Creek had a decent amount of water in it and would have made a great destination hike itself at about 2.5 miles in.

Just beyond Ophir Creek I commented to Hans that even though we were climbing at least we had short stretches of up tempered by short stretches of easy. I spoke too soon! A little over three miles in we came to a very steep rocky section, at least 10% grade, that seemed to go on forever...though it was probably less than a third of a mile.

At least we had pretty sarcodes to enjoy on the climb!

Nice views too!

And then we came to Rock Lake!
It's a small lake, but it really lives up to its name.

Any rocks that had been underwater at some point were red,
all rocks beyond the high water line were typical gray granite!

One of the best things about Rock Lake were the lily pads!

The snake was pretty cool too!

We have really enjoyed our stay in Carson City, so much that we just may come back through here in October, we've got lots more trails to hike! Silver City Auto Body did a great job on the damage to our truck, so now we are back in action and our truck is good as new.

We stayed at Camp N Town, a basic full hookup RV park at the North end of town, with the delicious Pho Country restaurant right across the street. Though right in town, the RV park was quiet and convenient and turned out to be a decent, no frills, place to stay.

Next up: Reno, NV, a nice short drive of about 30 miles!


  1. Well, I clearly blew through there too quickly! What gorgeous hiking spots you found! Love those red rocks in that lake. I will need to spend a little longer next time through, when hopefully it will be a little warmer and a whole lot less windy!

    So glad your truck is back in fine shape!

    1. We had a real mixed bag with the weather...two days of rain, then warming into the 80's. We heard the Washoe Valley immediately North of town is exceptionally windy all year long.

  2. Carson City! who knew? Now I have a reason to not just drive through Carson City, it is beautiful and I would like to go to that Rock Lake.
    Our mountains here do not have snow dusting, but still as beautiful as the ones you are on, in the west.

    1. Yeah, we were very pleasantly surprised. Between the lush green beauty of the town and the natural beauty of the surrounding hills and mountains, we were quite happy here.

  3. Who knew Carson City was such an outdoor activity gem? We've been through there three times, and our only impression of the area was of many cars and somewhere we wanted to leave. Guess we'll have to reconsider this area. Great pictures, especially that lizard.

    1. We liked the combo of pretty, green town, desert sage hills, and forested mountains. It just took a little digging to get to the good stuff! There are some neat back roads (Jacks Valley Road for one) that would be great road riding.

  4. We certainly did not explore Carson City like we should have. I had no idea it offered so much. Will definitely keep this post in mind when we return to the area. Great photos!

    1. It also helped that we arrived during the prettiest time of year!

  5. What a unique combination of rocks and lily pads, and the flowers look different than others I've seen. The yellow is so bright! Glad to hear the truck fix went well.

  6. Those flowers were crazy bright yellow, and the sun blasting on them only intensified the yellow!

  7. Another place we haven't been but is going on "the list". Thanks!

  8. I am sure I am not the first to suggest this... but you should really consider writing a book on hiking along with all your great photos!

    1. :-) Thanks Rick, you flatter me! I think the blog is enough work!!!!

  9. What a nice hike! I love that lizard. The sarcodes are really unique, very pretty. I forgot to mention them in the other comment. Any snow capped mountain is a gorgeous site.

    We'll have to remember to stop in Carson City.

  10. Such gorgeous hikes you found! We'll definitely be putting those on our list. Love your photos of the wocus (yellow water lilies) -- they're also abundant in the Klamath Basin, where we spend a lot of time kayaking -- the seed pods were a primary food source for the Klamath Indians (and are still used by the tribes). Thanks for the great hiking tips!

  11. What beautiful hikes you found! The trail to Rock Lake is my kind of hike...a great place for taking pictures. We never thought about going to Carson City...thanks Lisa!