As I am discovering, there are a number of interesting hiking trails close to Reno, NV – interesting in their own right but also good to know about for hikes during the Fall and Spring when there is a bit too much snow to hike at the higher Lake Tahoe Area elevations. This hike was on the Lower Whites Creek Trail, which is in the foothills south of Reno. The trail is operated by Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space and is located on county lands near NV-431 and just east of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The trail follows Whites Creek from Whites Creek Park up to Timberline Rd, near another trailhead for the higher-elevation Whites Creek Trail.
The hike itinerary is described in one of the hiking guides for the Tahoe area, Afoot & Afield Reno-Tahoe. I did the hike in late November, a few weeks after early snowfall had already covered the ground at higher elevations.
One of my first sights along the trail was a snake, which I later identified as a Great Basin gopher snake: fairly common, and non-venomous.
The trail initially passes through housing developments, then through alternating open areas and trees. These trees beautifully signaled the Fall season.
The desert flora differ somewhat from higher elevations. Here was a clump of pretty flowering plants.
The trail climbs steadily, gaining 925 feet over the 3.5-mile length.
Perhaps surprisingly, the housing continues, though gradually more scattered, along about 2.5 miles of the trail. There is ongoing construction of new home sites, with wonderful views of the Virginia Range to the east.
Of course the trail’s elevation gain represents elevation loss for Whites Creek.
On the return hike I frequently turned around to watch the sun begin to set over the Sierras. This is Slide Mountain, sometimes mistaken for Mount Rose because the ski area is located here.
Mount Rose is several miles to the north, about 1000 feet taller, and lacks a ski area.
The date of my hike was 4 days before the full moon, and I was treated to a pre-sunset moonrise.
I continued to watch the approaching sunset, both ahead of me to the east over the Virginia Range and turning around to look west over the Sierras. At the trailhead I lingered to enjoy the changing light and a final look at Slide Mountain and Mount Rose with their early-season snow.