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Winters Ranch Overlook Hike

By Ron.

We recently discovered a new trail to explore in the valley and would like to share it with your readers. This trail appears to be a “new” fire road that connects the northwest side of the valley with the Mount Rose Highway just downhill of the old Reindeer Lodge. While the road is now gated, it may be open to vehicles in the summer. It offers outstanding views of the valley, Washoe City and Pleasant Valley. Along the route one can also see all the “fuels reduction’ work that has gone on recently to reduce fire danger in our beautiful forests on the west side. It looks like most if not all of this trail is on Forest Service property.

Directions: The trailhead is .7 miles north of the entrance to Davis Creek Park on the west side access road to I-580 just past the NDOT maintenance yard. There is a locked gate on the road but there is also a sign that says “Foot Traffic Welcome”. How they imagined we are supposed to do that is up to your imagination. There is no access around the gate which connects barb-wire fencing on either side. Access to the trail is gained by clamoring over the gate and you can see that the gate has suffered already. We have seen other trailheads that employ a kind of “jog-entry” that accommodates horses, hikers and bicycles but not vehicles. Hopefully they will add this feature but for now access is limited to the limber with a dog small enough to lift over or squeeze through the gate bars.

Trail Description: The trail winds upward through open country for about a mile before entering a treed bench area. Since the forest has been cleared of excessive trees and underbrush (ladder fuels, in defensible space lingo) the appearance is quite “park-like” and pleasant. In the long view, there are stunning views southward across the valley of our verdant pastures and shimmering lake. To the west is the foothills and mountains of the Carson Range in a new, dramatic relief. Off to the north can be seen a bird’s eye view of historic Washoe City and Pleasant Valley in the distance. We stopped at the two mile mark but the road continues on for several more miles before connection with the Mount Rose Highway. This would be a great loop trail for mountain bikers and a point-to-point trail for hikers and equestrians when the gates are open. As with most hikes in our area, plan on packing water for dogs as it is dry.

Davis Creek Trail

Scenes along the Ophir Creek Trail.
We took a hike up the trail this morning since the summer heat has finally broken. Just a hint of color starting in the cottonwoods up at the “rock pile”. It was great to see so much water flowing in the creek in late September. The pic of the tree trunk shows the result, I think, of bears tearing off the bark looking for bugs. No wildlife spotted on this trip save for a hawk over the canyon. We also checked our geocache “Royal Flush” that we placed in 2003 and it is still there and looks great with many visits logged in the log book. We will go up again when there is more fall color.

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Mt Rose Ski Area – Slide Bowl

What snow we got so far is quickly retreating. From the valley floor, with a pair of binoculars, you can see the skiers and boarders traversing the slopes during the winter. Hopefully, for our water situation, these slopes will be covered with deep snow soon.

We took a walk from where Mt Rose Highway intersects with the road to the “Slide Side” of Mt Rose Ski Resort. A good uphill stroll of about a mile with incredible views of Reno, Washoe Valley and Nevada. After the next snowfall it will not be walkable until the ski area closes.