RENO - Washoe County's most popular hiking destination is getting more accessible, thanks to construction of a $510,000 trailhead and welcome center and a new trail leading to the mountaintop.
"This is probably the premier hike," said Gary Schiff, chief of the U.S. Forest Service's Carson Ranger District.
Heavy equipment is digging away at the trailhead beside the westbound lanes of the Mount Rose Highway. The facility will be at the top of the pass between Reno and Lake Tahoe. At 8,900 feet, it's the highest Sierra pass open for traffic throughout winter.
When completed at the end of the summer, the trailhead will include 50 parking spaces, restrooms and a welcome center with information about Lake Tahoe and the Sierra.
The project is funded by the Forest Service at $104,000, the Nevada Department of Transportation at $350,000 and with $55,000 from a bond sale approved by Washoe County voters in 2000.
Meanwhile, volunteers from the Tahoe Rim Trail Association are building a single-track trail that will be part of the system ringing the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The new trail will connect with one that leads to the peak of Mount Rose and its vistas of Lake Tahoe and the Truckee Meadows. When the two projects are done, hikers no longer will have to park on the highway shoulders and begin the 12-mile round trip to the top of Mount Rose on a dirt access road.
Thousands of people hike the mountain every summer, up to 200 a day on weekends, according to the Forest Service.