Nevada History by John C. Evanoff is excited to present this series of articles by noted author and poet, John C. Evanoff. John will tell us about Nevada history and cover some of the more remote and unusual things to see and do in Northern Nevada.

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Carson City

The Longest Hiking Trail
(Chapter Two of Three Chapters)
July, 2007
By John Evanoff

Let’s explore hiking trails around Carson City because I know you’ll enjoy the views, the wildlife and the ease of access through these colorful canyons with their purple flower stalks of lupine peeking through the deep reds and greens of the high country manzanita.

Driving south from Reno to the south end of Carson City on Highway 395, take a right on Clear Creek Road. If you wish to hike from Fuji Park, you can park there or if you’re not inclined to hike the entire route, this trail allows you to take your car most of the way to within a few hundred yards of Spooner Summit. Fuji Park was saved by the fine citizens of Carson City when political leaders almost made the fatal mistake of giving into selling it to a mega-retail center developer. Amends were made and the city spent additional funds to restore the park, add shelters and year around restrooms. Today Fuji Park is a wonderful addition to the many appealing activities for residents and visitors alike including an occasional rodeo or horse show and mini-fairs held throughout the summer and fall. Clear Creek Road heads up the hill along Clear Creek and winds through several small campgrounds. What many hikers like to do is negotiate the small hiking trail right next to the creek, but many bikers like to ride the road all the way to Spooner Lake and catch the many trails that lead in all directions from there. Clear Creek is full of rainbow and brook trout too. The entire road and trail is easily accessible but because of some steep spots near the summit, it is recommended you take plenty of water and food to quench thirst and hunger. The Jeffery and Ponderosa Pine, the Quacking Aspen and Willows and the Nutcrakers and Blue Jays will keep you company all along the way. Once you’ve come to the summit, you may want to either cross the road and move on to Spooner Lake to the West or take the southern or northern branch of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Either way, you’ll be in for some of the most awe inspiring trail hiking in the Carson Range. From Spooner Lake, you can hike or mountain bike ride all the way along the ridge line to Marlette Lake and up and over to Hobart Reservoir and then down the Tunnel Creek Road to the Ponderosa Ranch and Incline. You can also hike or mountain bike in from the Ponderosa Ranch side at the Tunnel Creek Station and head up to Hobart Lake and Marlette Lake from there. Once you are their many use the Flume Trail or North Canyon Trail to travel the mountain ridge. From Hobart Lake, you can also hike east along the old siphon pipe down the mountain to the hills above McEwen Creek and the Franktown Road or to Lakeview and across the highway and up the other side to Virginia City. This pipeline and the many adjoining it from the entire Marlette-Hobart Water System is still in use today after being built from 1866 through to 1910. Many remnants including the Flume Trail now cover a historic complex of water aqueducts and piping that used the inverted siphon method of transporting water from one place to another. The water at the higher elevation of Marlette, Spooner and Hobart was funneled into a pipe at the top of Lakeview, down through Lakeview, across Duck Hill and along the northwest side of McClelland Peak to Gold Hill and Virginia City. Millions of gallons of water fed the needs of the miners throughout the last 100 years. The double layered metal pipe that you can follow all along the way will give you a glance at this imaginative engineering fete. This hike also intersects with several trails that lead into the northern portion of Carson City including one that heads down the east side of Indian Mountain just north of Carson Airport to Carson Hot Springs. At Carson Hot Springs, enjoy a quick plunge into the mineral waters in the early morning or late evening. People have been resting their aching bodies in these clear warm invigorating waters since the mid 1800’s and probably even earlier by the Washoe Tribe who inhabited the hills nearby for thousands of years. The geothermal vents in this area can also be traced up the hill to several large pumice chimneys. Some of the pumice and rock has been dug out of the side of these formations for aggregate and asphalt use. Both sides of Indian Hill afford great views, one of Washoe Lake and the Franktown area and the other of Eagle Valley and Carson City.

Although this hike is extremely long and can take a couple days, you may want to break it into several days. The trails around Hobart Reservoir and Marlette Lake are a great way to learn about the Tahoe-Carson Forests. Many of the trees in this area were used for the Comstock Lode as timbering inside the mines and for trusses for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. If you were to look at this same area around 1890, you could spend an afternoon walking without seeing one tree, just stumps sitting a couple feet out of the ground. That’s how powerful the timber industry was at Lake Tahoe and it took heavy replanting and a more than a half century to bring the region back to where it is now. By 1950, the forest even though young, began to look alive again. The US Forest Service and several other agencies have come together to protect this area for all those who may one day wish to discover it’s tranquility and beauty. The Tahoe Rim Trail Association is another way for you to be part of this regeneration of the forest. Many more members are needed to maintain the trail and you can still be part of bringing Mother Nature to generations to come.

Fishing at all the lakes is extremely good, but I find catch and release with barbless fly hooks the best method to enjoy the high country. Regulations change, so read up before you plan to fish. You may see a few small bear and coyote and it’s always best to observe from a distance. If you plan an overnight, keep your food hung high and away from your tent or sleeping bag. Summer time is a great time to bag overnight with the stars overhead. Bring some binoculars so you can view the heavens as well. Mule Deer and squirrel are extremely abundant and occasionally you’ll see a skunk or porcupine. This is also a good spot to check out the bird life including the Mountain Blue Bird, Blue Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Stellers Jay, Hairy Woodpecker, Red Tailed Hawk and an occasional Bald Eagle.
The walk up Indian Hill and to the backside of Washoe Lake State Park is also a great hike. You can park at Washoe Lake State Park and start your hike from there or hit the trail from the backside of Indian Hill just east of Lakeview. If you hit the ridge line of McClelland Peak before noon, you will miss most of the heat of the day and be able to take in the view of Gold Hill, Silver City and Virginia City. The ridge line from McClelland Peak moves north at a steady grinding pace to Buller Peak, Mount Bullion and Mount Davidson. Along the way, you can look down to American Flat to the east all the way to Lahontan Reservoir.

If you stop in Carson City at the BLM Office on Morgan Mill Road, you can ask them for maps of the region or if you visit any Forest Service Office in the area, they have maps, camping permits and can answer any questions you might have concerning regulations. If you hike the entire route as I have done on two occasions when I was much younger, it will take you four days including, one day from Fuji park to Spooner Lake and camping there; one day from Spooner Lake around the west side of Marlette Lake and camping near Hobart Reservoir; one day hiking the siphon pipe across to Indian Hill and down to Carson Hot Springs; and one full day hike up McClelland Peak and on to Mount Davidson with an overnight stay in Virginia City. So, there are four full hikes and days in one or four separate hikes enjoyable one by one.

Before you head out to hike or mountain bike, make sure to wear appropriate attire including good hiking boots. McClelland Peak is a demanding hike but well worth the effort. Use plenty of sunscreen and bring at least a half gallon of water for each person to avoid dehydration. If you stay overnight at Hobart, Marlette or Spooner, or for that matter anywhere between, bring enough water to last you a couple days and a small portable water filter just in case you need more. Wear a hat to keep your head shaded and free of mosquito bites. There is nothing worse than an itchy head when you’re trying to sleep at night. Bring some mosquito spray along too. Most importantly, start your hike early and take your time. Don’t try to race to get it all in at once. Remember, it will all be here tomorrow, so enjoy the sights and companionship of your fellow hiker(s).

Next, month we spend some time east and south of Carson City where the pinion nut is king, the Paiute Indians still live and where Nevada State prisoners which they weren’t living. Historically, this part of the Eagle Valley and Carson City is by far the oldest and yet the most forgotten.

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