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Outdoors/Washoe Valley Activities Page

 

Jumbo Grade in Winter
Rattlesnakes & You
Those Bloomin' Spring Wildflowers/Dead Man's Creek Trail

Bowers Mansion Regional Park
Good News About the Winters Ranch
The Winters Ranch Property needs a little TLC from its neighbors and friends.
Hiking and Running Trail Finder

New Jumbo Grade Trailhead
My Five Favorite Places To Hike in East Washoe Valley

Source for national trail maps submitted by visitors to the USA Track & Field website.

 

Jumbo Grade in Winter

January 17, 2006: It is cold and dry with not much snow on the ground so we decided on a little adventure and fired up the Suzuki Samurai to try to drive to Virginia City over the Jumbo Grade Road. Activity was pretty high for a winter weekday at the OHV area near the trailhead with an adult on an ATV and several kids on dirt bikes. Soon after the trailhead, the road comes to a spot that always made me a bit nervous as the road cuts close to the creek bank and was at quite an angle (off-camber" as the 4-wheelers say) that made us think we would tip over. Since last summers fire though, a bulldozer has been up there and smoothed it out. A little further on the bulldozer also worked on where the creek and the road share the same route for about 75 yards although I can't see much improvement. Since we've had freezing daytime temperatures for the last couple of weeks we thought maybe the creek was frozen solid- it wasn't. We drove over most of it but broke through at one point. In 4 wheel drive, the Samurai broke through, slid sideways and before I could interfere, crawled out and continued on. Only one wheel broke through and it was about a foot deep so it seemed more exciting than it was. We stopped a ways up to take a photo and Sandy the golden retriever immediately ran back and took a dip in the icy hole. After shooing her back inside and wiping down the seats we continued on.

The main road that follows the creek goes down in a gully and up a fairly steep hill so we decided not to try that with snow and possible mud. Instead we took what I call "Alternate Plan B"  (see Map) which is a left turn immediately after you leave the creek at the the above-mentioned spot. This goes up and around and through some Jumbo ghosttown "suburbs" and eventually connects back to the main road after the tough spots (although it has a gully crossing too, maybe there is another route around that!?). Driving through "downtown" Jumbo we continue on over the rocky road to another small, dry gully which we crawl through and continue on up toward the "saddle" that marks the high point of the road. There was only an inch of snow the whole way and we did not have any traction problems (or chew up the roads). At the saddle there used to be a toll house from the 1860's when the road was used for hauling ore to the mills in Washoe Valley and wood back up to the mines. You can still see square nails and broken glass and pottery. Continuing on to VC was easy with beautiful Nevada vistas including the snow-capped Pine Nut Range which is southeast of Carson City. The whole length of the road is rocky so it takes about an hour to cover the 8 miles to VC.

Nearing Virginia City we could look down toward American Flat and see the newly completed roadbed and tracks for the new Virginia and Truckee Railroad. The home of the "Big Bonanza" is pretty sleepy this time of year and its easy to find a parking place and a bar stool as several of the watering holes remain open all year.

Despite what we did, the best way to travel the Jumbo grade is with the buddy system where you go with another vehicle in case there is a breakdown, injury or "stuckness".


Rattlesnakes & You

We've seen several snakes recently when out on our wildflower hikes in east Washoe Valley. Don't know if they were rattlers but they were treated with caution anyway. We should all be wary when in the Nevada outdoors and here are some tips on rattlesnake safety. Here's an article that discusses horses and rattlers. This one has some info on dogs and snakebites. Snake Aversion Training for dogs is available locally according to this article. Another option is rattlesnake avoidance training for dogs July 8-9 and 29 at Washoe Valley State Park. For details,  call Jon Tyler at 412-7552 or e-mail jonnwf@hotmail.com. The Nevada Department of Wildlife has produced a video “Venomous Snakes of Nevada” that gives information about the state’s venomous snakes and Gila monster, a venomous reptile. The videos are available at public libraries. The beneficial kingsnake (consumes rattlers and vermin) is sometimes killed out of fear of rattlesnakes. Kingsnakes, however have colored bands instead of the "diamond" markings of the rattlesnake.

 

Those Bloomin' Spring Wildflowers/Dead Man's Trail

May 16, 2006 by the Editor

Now is the time to get out and see the wildflowers in action as our wet winter and spring combined with our current heat wave has created the optimum time to enjoy nature's bouquet. You don't have to hike up to Little Valley or some other alpine meadow to enjoy the flower festivities. Just about anywhere you can hike you will find some splash of color. The blooms probably won't last long with this hot weather so now is the time to enjoy.

We just got back from hiking up Dead Man's Creek Trail in southeast Washoe Valley. This is a free trail in Washoe Lake State Park and is located approximately a quarter mile south of the park entrance at the big dead tree on the east side of the road (Eastlake Blvd). Several routes can be taken from this trailhead of varying length and difficulty. The trail has just been modified and improved to provide a more gradual ascent and smoother path. At the summit your reward is a shady gazebo where you can sit for awhile and take in the view of Washoe Valley. Surrounding the gazebo is a beautiful rock garden with showy displays of spreading flox, lupine and desert paintbrush. This can be an out-and-back hike or a loop. continue on up the hill past the gazebo and around and down to the state park office and back to the trailhead along an historic ditch trail (see map) approx. 3.2 miles. Dead Man's Creek Trail System Map

Bowers Mansion Regional Park

The fully restored Bowers Mansion offers a rare glimpse into Nevada life during the 1860s. The mansion was built in 1864 by Comstock millionaires L.S. “Sandy” Bowers and his wife Allison Oram.
Their stories, and the history of the mansion, reflect the rags-to-riches-to-rags tales so commonly associated with Nevada’s first silver boom. Along with the history, visitors are sure to enjoy of the mansion itself. Each of the sixteen rooms are furnished with Victorian antiques.
  Bowers Mansion Regional Park is managed by Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space. The park is located on the eastern slope of the Sierra in the heart of Washoe Valley.
Park facilities include a playground, pool, and picnic areas. Mansion tours are $5 for adults and $4 for youth and seniors. Tours are available every half hour during weekends in May, and seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

 

Good news about the Winters Ranch Property, Washoe Valley's latest public lands acquisition.
By Carol Christensen

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) now has an interim management plan for the Winters Ranch property which will take us through the next 2 - 3 years. Still to be finalized is the Cooperative Management agreement. The Cooperative Management Plan will consist of different agencies taking over different duties. For instance, garbage pick-up might be by Washoe County, noxious weed control by State Parks, law enforcement by WC Sheriff's Dept., etc. Community volunteers will be welcomed. This fall, probably in October, the Winters Ranch Property Interim Management Plan will be ready for presentation and public comment.

History and Location

The Washoe Valley Working Group (WVWG), under the leadership of the Nevada Land Conservancy, has been working since 1999 to acquire the Winters Ranch property for public open space. Over the years the WVWG has included many people representing; BLM, USFS, Dept. of Wildlife, Dept. of Transportation, State Parks, WC Parks, and WC Community Services, the Nevada Land Conservancy and others who have worked unselfishly to save this fantastic property. They have done so because they value open space, scenic beauty, wildlife, and wonderful Washoe Valley.

This west Washoe Valley property begins behind (east of) old Washoe City and runs south, on either side of Hwy 395, to Bower's Mansion. It is mostly pasture and wetlands, with some parcels in the forest at Davis Creek Park and Bower's. So far about 1,700 acres have been brought into public ownership, and are managed by BLM and USFS. And that's not all. An additional 300 acres is currently being pursued which will complete the purchase of the Winter's Ranch Property.

........................................

The Winters Ranch Property needs a little TLC from its neighbors and friends.

The Washoe Valley Working Group, including the Nevada Land Conservancy, BLM and USFS has successfully increased Washoe Valley's open space by 1,700 acres of wetlands, meadows, shrubs and trees, including water rights, with the acquisition of the Winters Ranch Property. This land is intended to remain undeveloped for current and future generations

I think that's a pretty impressive accomplishment, don't you? Do you want to say, Thank You?

Here is what you, residents and friends of Washoe Valley, can do to help. Now that this property belongs to the public, it has to be maintained and protected. The help of individuals and non-profit groups will be greatly appreciated. Maintenance projects include weed control, trash removal, repair of the irrigation system, and repair or removal of old fencing. Also, inventory of resources will include vegetation, wildlife, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and historical & archaeological resources.  

Would you like to help with trash cleanup, fence removal/repair, or irrigation ditch maintenance? Do you have special training to contribute to the resource inventory work? Do you belong to an organization that would like to get involved? Do you have other ideas on how you or your organization might help? How about environmental education? I'm open to any and all suggestions and will pass them along to BLM at our May 19 meeting.

Please give me a call and I'll add you to the list of interested individuals and groups.  Carol Christensen; tel. # 849-0801 or e-mail follynv1@ix.netcom.com . If you e-mail please put Winters Ranch Property on the subject line.

 

Hiking and Running Trail Finder

    USA Track & Field, the national governing body for track and field sports, has put together a cool device on their website, www.usatf.org, for finding trails and adding your favorite trails into a national database with over 20,000 entries and counting. The free service utilizes Google Maps. If you are familiar with Google maps, you know you can easily see street and aerial photos of the the whole country, including our area. The USA Track & Field map interface, found here, allows you to search for trails or input your own overlaid on the Google Maps interface. As you map your route, the program also tracks the mileage. If you are interested in new routes in the area or want to share your own, check it out. This is so cool I put up a permanent graphic in the upper right of the outdoors page called "Trail Finder" that will link directly to the site.

New Jumbo Grade Trailhead

By The Editor, April 4, 2006

    Last fall, new trailhead improvements were completed at the gravel pit on lower Jumbo Grade. If you are not familiar with the area it is reached by turning south onto Jumbo Grade Way from Eastlake Blvd at the south end of New Washoe City. About a mile up this road is the trailhead near the old gravel pit. This area is used extensively by 4 wheelers, ATVs and motorcycles, hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Over the past years the area has seen a lot of use with many unofficial roads and trails created over the hills and sagebrush. In 1988, the BLM designated the area "limited use" confining people to existing roads and trails. "Off Roading" can create unnatural drainage patterns, destroy plant life and endanger wildlife and it was deemed that this area was being "loved to death" which can lead to total closure at worst and something just plain ugly at best. To help educate visitors an informational kiosk has been constructed at the trailhead. One panel explains the concerns and what people can do to protect and sustain their resource. Another explains the history of the area including the ghost town of Jumbo that is about another mile up the main road. Jumbo sprang into being into about 1908 as a mining camp and quickly grew into a town with boarding houses, saloons, assay offices, an ore processing mill and even a newspaper. This panel is very well done and has a lot of history. A third panel discusses the plants and animals of the Jumbo Creek watershed and the importance of protecting and respecting the area. Also a part of the improvements are a large parking area, fencing and a restroom facility.

    So if you haven't been up Jumbo Grade in awhile, go up and check it out. Hopefully, the improvements will be respected and those that wish to continue enjoying the area will educate those who don't understand what can be lost through misuse and carelessness. High clearance/4 wheel drive vehicles can navigate Jumbo Grade all the way to Virginia City passing through the old Jumbo townsite on the way. All that remains of Jumbo is some broken glass, nails and shards of pottery among the old dirt streets. A few old vertical mineshafts exist which are very dangerous and should be avoided.

Click on photo for a larger version
The new trailhead Looking west toward
Washoe Valley

Jumbo Creek looking
upstream to the east

The trailhead was busy on this weekend in January

 

My Five Favorite Places to Hike in East Washoe Valley
by Christina N., 30 year resident

Click on the thumbnail map for a larger version


The best time for hiking in Washoe Valley follows on the heels of our coming spring. The desert, hills and lakes of the valley come alive with wildflowers, newborn quail and cottontail rabbits, and the sky takes on a fresh quality after months of being blanketed with wood stove and fireplace smoke. After living in the Valley for more than 30 years, I have found and settled on the choice places for hiking in the area.

My companion on most of these treks is my whippet mix, Mesa. She is the ultimate explorer and has led me on many expeditions around the area. I rate each of these hikes using dog points:

• ease of access
• sniffability (level of interesting terrain)
• lack of traffic
• views and location asthetics

Some of the names for the following trail areas are not official, they just happen to be the names I have called them since I was a child growing up in the valley.


5. Jumbo Grade
Jumbo Grade is famous for its historic mining town and notorious for its BMX, ATV and dirt bike traffic and noise. That aside, it is a rugged and fascinating place to hike. I suggest having a leash handy for your dog in case of an inordinate amount of bike traffic. In the spring, Jumbo Creek becomes a small river with waterfalls and pools. This is a great place to water your dog.

Jumbo is a good place for horseback riding as well. I was hiking once and I heard a galloping horse behind me. I turned around to see a preteen girl standing up in the saddle of her horse with her arms outstretched, her blonde hair flying behind her.

Jumbo Grade has a large parking area and the trail is wide and pretty easy to follow. You can go as long as you want and in about 6 hours of good hiking, you may be able to reach Virginia City. Walk as far as the aspen grove (look to your right about 1/2 mile in) and hike to the top of the highest hill above the grove, you can see all the way to downtown Reno. Be careful, the hill is very steep with loose rock. Jumbo Grade trailhead is reached by turning onto Jumbo Way from Eastlake Blvd about a mile south of the Seven Eleven. Continue through the cattleguard about another half mile and take the right fork.


4. The Trail Across from the Mormon Church
I don't think this trail has a name, but it is best accessed across McClellan from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The trail is sandy and a bit difficult to walk on when it is dry, but it gets easier the higher up you go. After you pass the old barbed wire fence the trail will fork, turning right takes you up to a hill with a great view of the entire south side of the valley and Big Washoe. The left fork takes you into the piÒion pine area of the Virginia Range where you can pretty much take your pick on where to go next. Explore and keep your eye out for deer and rabbit tracks.


3. Scripps Wildlife Management Area
This is not really a trail, or a hike, but it's a great way to enjoy the looming view of Mount Rose, Slide Mountain and even Job's Peak down in the Carson Valley. This jeep and truck road (only for major four-wheel drive, mountain bikes or horseback) is a direct link from Big Washoe Lake to Little Washoe Lake. The best way to get onto this road is from Bruce Drive off of Slide View Way, or the right hand turn off of the dirt road that takes you to the North boat ramp of Big Washoe Lake. Follow the road all the way to Little Washoe. It's highly likely you will see a coyote or two, so keep your dog close.


2. Tie: Castle Rock and Dead Man's Trail

Castle Rock
I think my childhood friends and I might have named this place, I just know it has always been called Castle Rock for its architecturally interesting formation. Starting from East Guffey Dr. and turning onto East Sinclair St., follow any of the dirt trails up into the Virginia foothills keeping the large building-block rock formation above you in view. When you get to Castle Rock, climb up on the back part of it, the front is steep. Unfortunately some graffiti has been sprayed on the rock, but if you look to the south, you can see an interesting painting of a prehistoric reptile. I think it was painted by the same artist who painted Dog Rock on Eastlake Blvd. on the way to Carson City since they have the same style. The view from Castle Rock is really amazing, you can see the entire valley and even up into Saint James Village. Another access point is from Eastlake Blvd, turn toward the hills onto East Cottontail and continue until it turns into a dirt road. Park here. The rocks are straight up the road and over the ridge.

Dead Man's Trail
The ghostly, white tree across from the south boat landing at the Washoe Lake State Park is the start of Dead Man's Trail. The grave and the name came from a pair of brothers in the late 1800's who fought and killed each other over land rights. I would love confirmation of this story from any historians out there. This is a short and sweet hike that winds through two hills alive with wildflowers, cattails and a spring that gurgles out of the rocks. The area was burned in a fire in 1999 and many of the dead trees are still around. The best part of the hike is the top, where a gazebo has been built. The view of the lake, and both mountain ranges is beautiful and a great place for a picnic.

Here are some photos of the trail from a blog on the RSCVA website:

1. Pagni Gorge
In danger of becoming part of a development, and already being shadowed by the new freeway project, Pagni Gorge gets my vote for one of the best places to walk and hike in the valley. It is technically on the way to West Washoe Valley, but still has the rugged sagebrush feel of the East. The best way to get to the trail is to park near or around Amsterdam Antiques on the north side of 395 heading toward West Washoe Valley. You have to go through some barbed wire fences to get to the trail, but once you are there, head down between the high hills into the gorgeous riparian area. Here a small stream meanders through cottonwoods, Russian olives, wild roses and grasses. The stream dumps into a small pond down near Washoe Hill where I've seen coot, yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds, bullfrogs, blue heron and deer. Mount Rose is always ringed by the gorge's hills and the sound of water is always around.

One of the best encounters I ever had in the gorge was with a group of cub scouts, all dressed up in their uniforms with their compasses and notebooks ready. They were so excited to see my dog.


Even though I love not running into other people while out hiking, I would sacrifice some of my peace and quiet to have more people become involved in the hiking trails of Washoe Valley. With the possibility of new developments encroaching on the valley, the best way to keep our area free for these types of activities is to know more about them and love them enough to fight to keep them open. The best way to do this is to lace up the boots, grab the dog and hiking pole and see for yourself why this area deserves to be protected.