Lower Whites Creek Trail

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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.

GPS track

GPS track

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.

photo of Great Basin gopher snake

Great Basin gopher snake

The trail initially passes through housing developments, then through alternating open areas and trees.  These trees beautifully signaled the Fall season.

picture of grove of trees along Lower Whites Creek Trail

Grove of trees along Lower Whites Creek Trail

The desert flora differ somewhat from higher elevations.  Here was a clump of pretty flowering plants.

image of pretty flowering plants by the trail

Pretty flowering plants by the trail

The trail climbs steadily, gaining 925 feet over the 3.5-mile length.

Elevation profile

Elevation profile

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.

picture of another new home site with a view

Another new home site with a view

Of course the trail’s elevation gain represents elevation loss for Whites Creek.

image of Whites Creek tumbling down the hillside

Whites Creek tumbling down the hillside

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.

image of approaching sunset over Slide Mountain

Approaching sunset over Slide Mountain

Mount Rose is several miles to the north, about 1000 feet taller, and lacks a ski area.

picture of Mount Rose

Mount Rose

The date of my hike was 4 days before the full moon, and I was treated to a pre-sunset moonrise.

picture of late afternoon moonrise over the Virginia Range

Late afternoon moonrise over the Virginia Range

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.

photo of Slide Mountain (left) and Mount Rose (right) after sunset

Slide Mountain (left) and Mount Rose (right) after sunset

There are several other hiking trails in this area, and I look forward to exploring them in the future (see, for example here and here).

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This entry was posted in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Nevada, North Tahoe and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lower Whites Creek Trail

  1. Pingback: Jones Whites Creek Loop | trailhiker

  2. Pingback: Upper Thomas Creek Trail | trailhiker

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