Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Autumn in Carson City

We had a very enjoyable 10 day stay in Carson City, NV in May of 2014 when we discovered there is a very active trail building community here. This last stay was no different, in one week we hiked a new-to-us trail almost every day, with the added bonus of some lovely fall color.

The Bently Heritage Trail is a flat, easy walk through the Carson River floodplain, sometimes along the river. The Nature Conservancy worked with the property owner to demonstrate that habitat protection, cattle ranching and public access can coexist. Horses, bikes and dogs are not allowed on this trail system. While not the most exciting place to hike, there is bird watching (we saw numerous Northern Harriers) and long distance views galore.

The Carson Range, a spur of the Sierra Nevada Range, stands between Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe.
Grasses, sagebrush and a few giant cottonwoods grace the Bently Heritage trail system.

Subtle autumn colors stretch across the valley.

Just a few miles over the mountain from Carson City, Skunk Harbor is an easy walk 564 feet down an old fire road to a gorgeous bay on Lake Tahoe. There's an old abandoned summer house built in the 1920's and potential wildlife watching. We saw bear tracks, a couple of bald eagles and a mink! Top that off with complete solitude and it was a perfect day on the trail.

Built in 1923, the Newhall House was a retreat for a wealthy San Francisco family.

The house looks out on this stunning bay.

Bear tracks along Lake Tahoe.

We sat still enjoying the scenery long enough that a mink decided we weren't a threat!

Sorry for the blurry moved quickly!

The mink was so curious about us it swam over to get a closer look!

It got within five feet of us, probably hoping for a handout.

Newhall house peeks out from autumn finery on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

The western edge of Carson City nestles up to the foothills of the Carson Range so for many folks hitting the trails is as easy as walking west from their front door. Ash Canyon is just such a place where miles of trails and dirt roads head right up into the mountains...some roads will lead you all the way to Lake Tahoe!

A beautiful fall morning in Ash Canyon, home of a year round creek and trails and roads
leading all the way over the mountains to Lake Tahoe.

Another trail system right in town is Prison Hill Recreation Area. This 2,500 acre recreation area adjacent to the local prison has two sections, the northern parcel has miles of trails for non motorized use and the southern portion is for off road vehicles. The cool thing about this hiking area is the variety of can walk for miles along the Carson River and the Mexican Ditch (built in the 1860's to power a mill and irrigate the land), or climb some serious hills providing great views of Carson City.

At Prison Hill Recreation Area we chose an easy morning walk along the Carson River and a couple of miles
worth of brilliant yellow cottonwoods.
Here, we had nice reflections on the pond dammed to divert flow into the Mexican Ditch.

There is a seven mile trail that connects Ash and Kings Canyons on the western edge of Carson City, it's got plenty of elevation gain so is best done as a shuttle hike or bike which doesn't work for us since we have just one vehicle. Having hiked at the Ash Canyon end already, we chose a 4.5 mile loop at the Kings Canyon end for our final hike in the area. The Upper Waterfall Loop provides great long distance views of the Carson Valley as well as a couple of waterfalls.

A pop of colorful aspen among the Ponderosa.

Upper waterfall.

Looking down King's Canyon into Carson City.

Carson City has some beautiful historic homes adjacent to downtown so it's always pleasant to take a stroll through the neighborhoods. I didn't get any photos but there was a bounty of fall colors as the trees were at peak color in all the neighborhoods we walked. What I did photograph was some of the Halloween decorations currently on display...

Do you dare enter???

Built in the early 1900's, the Governor's Mansion is an iconic historic building...all decked out for Halloween.


Once again we stayed at Camp-N-Town, a basic urban RV park that is convenient to everything in Carson City. Roads are paved, sites are gravel and there are quite a lot of permanent rigs, though they are reasonably tidy. One of the best things about this location is right across the street, the amazing Pho Country Vietnamese restaurant. The Pho is out of this world!

Mmmm Mmmm Good, Pho Country!

Next up: a couple of nights in Lee Vining, CA.


  1. Beautiful pictures and reflections from your hikes and a mink! Now that's special. A few of us went to Pho T Cali in Kearny Mesa, your's looks better - but they brew the iced coffee at the table. A nice touch.

    1. The mink was really special! A first for us.

      I tell you, if you are ever in Carson City try Pho Country. It is the best pho I've ever had!

  2. The bear tracks in Skunk Harbor are so cool!! Wow! An actual trail of prints. And that mink is darn cute!

    1. Skunk Harbor was definitely the best hike of the bunch with all the animal sightings! And all thanks to you!

  3. How cool you saw a mink! Lovely autumn colors on your hikes. My foot is doing pretty good - I'm hoping to get the green light to start running again next week. :)

    1. The mink was awesome!!!

      So glad to hear to your getting closer to using that toe the way you want to!

  4. Beautiful fall colors on your hikes -- the color and clarity of the water in Lake Tahoe is just stunning! must like your pho spicy, adding in those jalapenos! :-)) The mink is adorable -- and very cool to see such clear bear tracks. Usually we just see bear poop, haha!

    1. Yep, I'm a spicy girl!

      We see bear tracks more often than we see poop!

  5. Minks! Carson City looks really good, much better than I would have thought after just driving through there on the way to the airport.

  6. Who knew minks were there after a bear.

  7. Beautiful time of year to be in that fun area - you found some gorgeous spots. And bear tracks!! Love the cute mink :-))))

  8. Beautiful hikes and fall colors! What a very special treat to see the mink.