Tag Archives: Trails

Riding the Carson River Trails

Something great is happening all around Carson City. All the little paths and trails that have been being built over the years are starting to join, transforming our little parks into a network of connecting trails. Thanks to a recently installed bridge between Empire Ranch and Riverview Park, it’s now possible to bike or hike most of the Carson River along the eastern edge of the city. You can now ride the Empire Ranch Trail, Riverview Park, Mexican Ditch Trail, and Silver Saddle Ranch, all with only one paved road crossing at Carson River Road!

Carson River Trail
Getting started at Morgan Mill Road

We recently rode from the Morgan Mill Road Trailhead to Mexican Dam and back, a total of about 13 miles with very little elevation gain. Trails like this are great for beginners, families, or just someone interested in a laid back cruise. The riparian habitat along this route offers plenty of wildlife viewing, while the expansive views of the snow-capped Carson Range provide the backdrop to the west. Here’s a look at each section of this ride.

Carson River Trail
East of the Empire Ranch Golf Course

We started the ride at the Morgan Mill Road trailhead, where there is a parking lot and restroom. The trail begins next to the boat ramp. Soon the well graded trail borders the golf course, with great views of the mountains over the greens and ponds. At the south end of the golf course is the new bridge, crossing the marshy creek and leading into Riverview Park.

Carson River Trail
The new bridge connecting Empire Ranch to Riverview Park

Riverview Park has its own network of trails, so there are a few options to consider to get to the south end of the park. We decided to keep left and ride along the riverbank under the big cottonwood trees. There are several park benches and river access points along the way. Other options would be to ride to the west end of the park to get to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Park, the Mexican Ditch Trail, or even the Linear Park trail which heads back into town.

Carson River Trail
Riverview Park

Carson River Trail
Riding along the Carson River

Carson River Trail
Heading west towards the Mexican Ditch Trail

Once at the south end of Riverview Park, the trail heads west to connect to the Mexican Ditch Trail. The steepest part of the entire route is here, a quick little uphill to a bridge that crosses the ditch. Once on the Mexican Ditch Trail, we headed south out of Riverview Park en route to the Silver Saddle Ranch. The trail in this section tends to be a little softer than previous sections, but is still manageable for most types of bikes. We saw several hawks patrolling the meadow here, but also saw a lot of domesticated animals like goats, sheep, and chickens right along the trail. You may even get to see a bald eagle if you’re lucky.

Carson River Trail
Helpful maps along the way

Carson River Trail
On the Mexican Ditch Trail

The Mexican Ditch trail eventually comes to Carson River Road. It’s just a quick ride up the pavement to the west to enter the Silver Saddle Ranch. Just keep an eye out for cars during the crossing, as the traffic can be pretty fast through here. Follow the loop road from the entrance down to the ranch house. Near the ranch house, there is a trail map and access to a number of trails. The surface on the trails throughout the park are more sandy than the previous trails, but are still easy to negotiate. Most (if not all) trail choices involve a gate, since there is active cattle grazing withing the park. Make sure to close any gates behind you. We chose the road leaving the ranch house to the east, and headed down to the river, watching the cows chase the hay truck as we pedaled by.

Carson River Trail
At the Silver Saddle Ranch

Carson River Trail
Silver Saddle Ranch House

Carson River Trail
One of the ranch roads

Carson River Trail
Feeding Time

We followed the river trail north until it rejoined the trail along the Mexican Ditch. The trail from here follows the ditch all the way to where it begins at Mexican Dam. The easy trail ends at the dam, but those looking for further exploration can follow a sandy foot path that continues along the river on the other side of the ditch.

Carson River Trail
Along the Mexican Ditch on the Silver Saddle trails

This same time last year, there was very little water in the stagnant river, and we were able to walk across the dam. This year, though, the water was full behind the dam, and water cascaded over the top. It’s a good sight to see.

Carson River Trail
A full river behind Mexican Dam

Carson River Trail
Water cascading over Mexican Dam

Carson River Trail
Parked at Mexican Dam

Carson River Trail
Winter colors along the river

On the return trip, we added variety to the ride by taking some of the trails we missed on the way out. At one point, we accidentally missed the turn to Riverview Park, and kept along the Mexican Ditch Trail to 5th Street where we were able to rejoin our intended route. There really is no wrong way to enjoy these trails, as long as you get to your intended destination.

Carson River Trail
Headed back

Carson River Trail
Our Route

The trails are a little soft and muddy at the moment, but they’ll firm up as the weather changes. We enjoyed this route a lot, though, and will definitely come back again when we’re looking for a more leisurely outing. It’s great to have this many miles of trail so close to town. With very little traffic to worry about and the easy grade, it makes a fun family trail. There is much to see and do along these river trails any season of the year, a tremendous recreational asset to the community!

Carson City Trail Users Public Workshops

Please come and review the maps of the existing trails and trailheads in Carson City, and share your comments and concerns to help the Eagle Valley Trail Committee and the land management agency staff. Your comments are essential for the success of this community trail planning effort to decide the future of trails in Eagle Valley.

Trails Public Workshops

At tonight’s meeting, there will be map stations where you can provide input, and a survey station where you can give your thoughts on trails. If you are unable to attend this special stakeholder workshop or want to do the survey now, please visit the EVTC’s website at carsoncitytrails.org and take the trail survey online.

  • Who: All trail users and stakeholders
  • When: Tuesday, October 20th, 5:30-7:30 PM
  • Where: Sierra Room in the Carson City Community Center, 851 E. Williams (northwest corner of the building).

Ash to Kings Trail Opening

Saturday, August 29th was the grand opening of the long awaited Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon trail. This non-motorized multi-use trail is seven miles long, and connects the Ash Canyon trail system to Kings Canyon Road (Lincoln Hwy) and the Longview Trail. Though the trail was designed with mountain bikes in mind, it is suitable for runners, hikers and equestrians. Trail construction began on July 1st, 2012, with most major work being wrapped up earlier this year. Final touches such as informational signage were completed in just the past few weeks. Now at completion, Carson City has a world-class mountain biking trail, on par with other famous local trails like the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Making the ride and trek up to the trailhead

Although construction began in 2012, planning for this trail started back in 2007, a project that Muscle Powered’s Jeff Potter took the lead on. Scouting out the trail alignment was no easy task. I joined one of these early expeditions along the steep canyon walls of Ash Canyon. We made our way through thick brush, downed trees, and loose rock, the treacherous slope threatening to twist ankles at the first misstep. Potter was able to visualize a mountain bike trail cutting through this mountainside wilderness, while I was more concerned about trying to empty the rocks out of my boots and not falling down one of the many steep drainages. This was just one of many trips trail crews made in an effort to layout the future trail.

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
At the Ash Canyon trailhead

Once a rough idea of where the trail would go was established, there was the approval and funding process. Environmental and archaeological studies needed to be conducted. And with the trail crossing different jurisdictions, approval from the city and the U.S. Forest Service had to be granted. The Forest Service oversees an enormous area, and it can take a while for your project to come up in their queue. You must be patient. After studies were completed, trail alignments adjusted and approved, it was time to build a volunteer work force. There was no shortage of volunteers, but they’d all need to be trained and equipped with tools and safety gear. Even insured. Thankfully there were groups that stepped up to help with all the funding to get the project started. Carson City Open Space provided seed money that was used for grant reimbursement , and Jenny Scanland from NV State Parks was able to secure grants from the Recreational Trails Program. The city helped to cover the cost of workman’s comp insurance. Other private firms became involved to assist with bridge design and additional trail crews. A cast of many came together to get this trail built.

Ash to Kings Trail OpeningGathering at the Ash Canyon Creek bridge

Once trail construction finally began, trail crews started at both ends. Trail crew leaders Oli, Keith and Toby set a very high quality standard from the first rock that was laid, which set the bar for every trail workday after. Smaller sections were built and eventually joined together. When the winter snow arrived, crews had to wait several months for the melt off before they could begin again. Local businesses sponsored trail work days, and many from the community donated their free time to lend a hand. People of all ages came out, the kids working alongside the retired, everyone eager to see the completion of the trail.

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
More people continuing to arrive

So it was with great pride on August 29th when around 100 people showed up for the grand opening ceremony to celebrate the new trail. So many people had a stake in this project, whether doing the heavy work or assisting administratively. Some attendees rode or hiked up Ash Canyon to the trailhead, and others were shuttled to the event. Everyone gathered down the hill from the trailhead at the Ash Canyon bridge. The Mayor, Board of Supervisors, trail crew leaders, and representatives from Muscle Powered, Parks and Recreation, NV State Parks, Lumos and Associates Engineering, Great Basin Institute, Carson City Visitor’s Bureau, and the U.S. Forest Service were all onsite, and many had great words to say about the project. Leaders took their turns with the ribbon cutting, a “ribbon” made up of bicycle parts and running shoes. But of all the people that made this trail possible, it was Jeff Potter that was the big star of the day. While many of us helped out when it was convenient, Potter lived it. He sacrificed countless hours in all sorts of weather up in the canyons over the last several years to see this project through.

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Lining the trail

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Mayor Bob Crowell addresses the crowd. Board of Supervisors on the left

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Muscle Powered’s Jeff Potter, the lead on the trail project

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Jenny Scanland from State Parks helped to secure grant funding for the trail project

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Muscle Powered and Lumos and Associates’ Chas Macquarie helps out with the “ribbon” cutting

After a great ceremony, it was time to enjoy the trail. Bikers and hikers, young and old, took to the trail to enjoy the rest of the day. Sunny clear skies offered trail users views of Carson City, Washoe Valley, and the Carson Valley as they climbed to the trail’s high point at 6,731 ft elevation. And of course, what goes up, must come down. Our group enjoyed a long descent down into Kings Canyon, finishing up at a picnic provided by Lumos and Associates at the bottom. Here are a few photos from the ride.

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Climbing up out of Ash Canyon

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
At the boulder overlook

Ash to Kings Trail Opening

Ash to Kings Trail Opening

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
View of Washoe Valley

Ash to Kings Trail Opening

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Fun for all ages!

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Lots of smiles out on the trail

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Great views of Carson City

Ash to Kings Trail Opening

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
Lots of helpful signage

Ash to Kings Trail Opening
On the Kings Canyon Creek bridge

While the trail is now officially open, that doesn’t mean the work is done. Ongoing trail maintenance must be done. I overheard trail crew leaders discussing sections that already needed to be tended to. Also, there is a plan in the works to construct a new section of trail that will bypass the steep road climb up Waterfall Road. And if you want to look at the big picture, area trail groups are working together, planning to connect our Ash to Kings Trail to the Tahoe Rim Trail and Carson Valley trails for a huge network. It’s definitely a good time to be living in Carson City!

If you’re interested in getting more involved with this trail and other future trail projects in our area, consider joining Muscle Powered, Citizens for a Walkable and Bikeable Carson City.

More photos from the event on Flickr here.

Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail Update

My son and I joined the Muscle Powered Trail Crew over the weekend to work on the Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail. The Bike Smith hosted this particular work day, and many of the guys from the shop were there to lend a hand. We arrived at the Kings Canyon trailhead at 9:00 AM where we received a safety talk, a hard hat, and trail tools to carry up to the work site. We worked about a mile up from the trailhead, so along our walk we got to see a lot of the completed trail work and were treated to fantastic views of the city below. Most of the trail has been cut at this point, so our teams concentrated on the finish work. Some sections had to be widened. Brush and stumps had to be cut back. There was rock work to be done to build nice wide switchbacks. Here’s a look at the trail and some of the work we did:

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Arriving at the work site

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A nice wooded section

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A section still under construction near a waterfall

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Removing small stumps and roots bordering the trail

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Checking on trail progress below

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Cutting back the brush

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Constructing a switchback

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A section of completed trail

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Crossing the steep hillside

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Moving lots of dirt

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Heading back to the trailhead

The crew worked until about 4:00 PM. We were pretty tired and covered in dirt. We also endured some smokey conditions at times from the fires in CA. We returned home with an appreciation for all the hard work of the trail builders, and anticipation that someday we’ll get to come back and ride our bikes on this amazing trail!

A cooperative effort with Muscle Powered volunteers, Carson City, and the U.S. Forest Service, the Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail will be a non-motorized multi-use mountain bike trail. Trail grade is kept at a pitch to allow riders to climb comfortably in a low gear, and descend at a controlled pace that doesn’t require the rider to be on the brakes all the time. Switchbacks, water diversions, and other trail features are designed to be ridden, so the rider doesn’t have to get off the bike. Though the trail is designed with mountain bikes in mind, it will also be suitable for runners, hikers and equestrians. When completed, the trail will be seven miles long, and will connect the Ash Canyon trail system to Kings Canyon Road. Trail crews are still completing the finish work, and two bridges must be installed to protect the creeks before the trail is officially open. It won’t be long now though. What a great asset to Carson City this will be!

National Trails Day 2014

(Originally published on MusclePowered.org by Jeff Potter)

We had a fantastic turnout on National Trails Day! Muscle Powered, Graceworks, Great Basin Institute and Starbucks volunteers (Thank you for the morning coffee!) showed up at the Waterfall Trailhead early Saturday morning to work on the Ash Canyon to Kings Canyon Trail. At the sign-in table volunteers were issued hard hats and were able to grab a bit of swag provided by Clif Bar through IMBA’s Clif Bars for Trail Work Days, and Adventure Medical Kits from the American Hiking Society. After sign-in and a bit of mingling, volunteers loaded up in vans provided by Carson City and Capitol Automotive and shuttled up to the worksite.

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At the worksite Muscle Powered Senior Crew Leader Oliver Lieder conducted a safety talk and tool demonstration before sending crews off to work.

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Crews lead by Ward Knous and Toby Welborn took the most difficult terrain, a steep cross slope with plenty of rock , which kept the crew busy the whole day, while crews lead by Mark Kimbrough, Oliver Lieder and Jeff Potter worked on slightly easier terrain. Keith Conrad lead our rock crew whose task was to pull rocks off the side slope, placed there during previous construction, and haul them to Church Bells Ravine to be used as rip rap.

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This was the first time we’ve partnered with Graceworks, and I believe this was the first time they’ve worked on trail as an organization. It was wonderful to work with a dedicated group of hard working individuals, from ages 6 to 80, all in an effort of enhancing the community we live in.

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Totally awesome Jenny! She brought MP and GW together. Thank you!

Great Basin Institute started working on Ash to Kings back in late 2012. In 2013 they worked a full season and built 2 miles of trail in the middle section of the alignment. In 2014 GBI conducted crew orientation, along with a couple of hitches, and together with Muscle Powered has built 4,000ft of trail since May 1st of this year. To have GBI with us on NTD was extra special. It gave everyone a chance to talk with the crews who are helping to build our trail, plus they’re a great bunch of people to hang around with.

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Britney form GBI

We broke for lunch at 11:45 which was made by Comma Coffee provided by a generous donation from longtime trail supporters Galena Fest and Eagle Vision. Thank you!!!!!!

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CJ working on the trail

After lunch we worked for a couple more hours. By 1:45 Mark and Oliver’s crew had finished their sections and moved up the trail to help the other crew leaders. At the end of the day crews had built 1,075ft of new trail!

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Billie and Rex inspecting the sweet single track

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We regrouped one more time, counted tools and took one last group photo before heading home. On the way out it was impressive to see the work Keith’s crew did with the rip rap.

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Keith at Church Bells Ravine

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Alex and Jeremy

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Nathan and Isaac

Thank you to all who made this the best NTD ever!!!

Clear Creek Trail

Looking for some new singletrack to ride? Just south of Carson City is the new Clear Creek Trail! The Clear Creek Trail is almost 10.5 miles long, is open to hikers, mountain bikes, equestrians and dogs, has no exit, and is currently 21-miles round-trip. The trail begins next to Jacks Valley Elementary School at the Jacks Valley Trailhead, and ends about 1,000 feet southwest of the Highway 50/Tahoe Golf Club Drive interchange. Generally considered easy to moderate, the trail gradually climbs and descends along its length at a comfortable 5% grade with some flat sections. The elevation ranges between 4,950 feet at Jacks Valley Trailhead adjacent to the school, to a high point of 6,200 feet at the south fork crossing of Clear Creek, then down to 5,900 feet at the end of the trail. We got out to ride the trail recently, and here’s what we found.

Clear Creek Trail
Getting Started – Lots of turns in the tall brush

To get to the trailhead, head west on Jacks Valley Road just south of Carson City. The official trailhead is at Jacks Valley Elementary School, just a mile down the road. An alternate trailhead suitable for hikers and mountain bikers is just a half mile further to the west where the trail crosses the road. This is where we parked for our ride. There are several spots to park in the dirt off the road here, but our group got the last two spots. This new trail is really popular right now!

Clear Creek Trail
Watch for snakes!

To get started, go through the gate by the information kiosks. Follow the dirt road west just a short ways and make the first right to the north that climbs the hill. Immediately you’ll see a small sign that directs you onto the Clear Creek Trail singletrack. The trail begins with a gentle climb, taking its time to go anywhere as it meanders up the hill through the sagebrush.

Clear Creek Trail
Riding around granite boulders

Early into the climb you’ll pass a sign warning of rattlesnakes. While we didn’t encounter any snakes on our ride, I heard from a friend that grew up in this area that this hillside has a very high population of rattlesnakes that are active during the warmer months. While I don’t see them as a big threat to riders just passing through, use caution when taking a break near the many inviting rock outcroppings. Watch where you’re putting your hands and feet! Also keep a close watch on your dogs if you bring them.

Clear Creek Trail
The lower part of the trail can get sandy at times

Clear Creek Trail
One of the sections where the trail is cut into a steep hillside

The first part of the trail is below timberline, and winds through brush and around granite boulders as it climbs to the west. The trail is built mostly on decomposed granite. It’s packed down pretty good in the center of the trail most of the time, but there are some sandy sections that occasionally make forward momentum a challenge. This trail doesn’t have many trail obstacles to pinch flat on, so you can run lower tire pressure for maximum flotation on the sand. Certainly don’t go over the minimum recommended pressure on your tire’s sidewalls. If you know your tire’s capabilities, you may even want to go lower than the recommended pressure. The sandy trail would also make a great place to ride Fat Bikes.

Clear Creek Trail
Entering the Trees

After a couple miles, the trail climbs up into the trees. The trail firms up here, and winds through the woods with plenty of fantastic views of the valleys below. At times the trail gets narrow and traverses some steep slopes. This adds some thrill to the trail, but can make it difficult when meeting other trail users along the way. We encountered horses coming the opposite direction, and had to duck into a drainage area in a corner while they passed safely. Although the trail crosses many dirt roads and side trails along the way, the Clear Creek Trail is always clearly marked to keep you on track and off private property.

Clear Creek Trail
The trail firms up once in the trees

We went as far as Knob Point before turning around. At 6,050 ft, it makes a great vista point with views of Jacks and Carson Valleys. From here the trail turns to the north and heads towards Clear Creek, a section we plan to explore on our next outing on this trail.

Clear Creek Trail
Enjoying the view at Knob Point

Clear Creek Trail
Crossing a bridge, a fun trail feature

We had a great descent back to the trailhead. There are a few short climbs on the way out, but overall there is much downhill to enjoy. The gentle grade doesn’t allow for breakneck speeds, but that’s probably good with the mix of trail users we encountered. The slower speed was also good for the young mountain bikers we had in the group, so they could work on their trail skills without flying out of control. The trail gets a little confusing in the last mile. You don’t notice all the turns much when climbing, but hidden in the sagebrush, they are hard to see when descending at speed. I found myself trying hard not to skid into a few turns when the trail would suddenly break left or right without warning. Some practice on the last section may be needed to memorize the course.

Clear Creek Trail
Bonus: Bring your GPS and try to find the many Geocaches in the area!

The Clear Creek trail is a lot of fun, and is a great asset to have so close to Carson City. The lower elevation of the trail gives us something to ride early season, as many of the mountaintop trails don’t open until May and June. The shade on the upper section will be nice in the summer, and the easy terrain should be great for night riding. The gentle climb and lack of difficult obstacles make it a good trail for beginners. For those looking for additional things to do while on the trail, there are a lot of Geocaches nearby. Thank you Carson Valley Trails Association for such a great trail!

Clear Creek Trail
Excellent Views of the Carson Valley

Clear Creek Trail
Descending back to the trailhead

More information:

For more information about this trail, including a trail map, please vist the Carson Valley Trails Assocation site: http://www.carsonvalleytrails.org/Trails-ClearCreek.html

It's Always Something Eventful in Carson City

About a year ago, a few of us participated in the making of a promotional video for Carson City. Our segment was to promote our city’s recreational trails, so Ash Canyon was selected for the location. For about an hour, we all pedaled up and down the dirt road, and back and forth on the trails. Nearly two seconds of the footage made it to the final cut.

Ash Canyon Video Shoot
Video shoot in Ash Canyon

In case you were planning to blink while watching, the mountain biking segments are at the :27 and :50 marks in the video. But not to worry, since the video is chock-full of all the fun things to do in our city and surrounding areas. It’s enough to make your heart swell with pride!


It’s Always Something Eventful from Visit Carson City