As 2020 nears its conclusion, perhaps we will look back with a renewed appreciation for the stunning natural beauty that surrounds us in Nevada and the Eastern Sierra. Mother Nature has been a familiar presence that has remained with us through these unfamiliar times.
Whether an early morning stroll in the foothills, a lunch-time walk on an urban pathway, a spring-time float trip on the Carson River, or an epic mountain bike ride through the Carson Range and into the Tahoe Basin, the trails just outside our front door have led many of us to places of refuge and solace.
Regionally, our trails, trailheads, parks, open space properties and other public lands have experienced unprecedented numbers of visitors this year. Carson City, in partnership with other public, private, and non-profit organizations, has been diligently working to create new trails and trailheads, and to maintain our favorite familiar ones.
Most exciting this year was the Oct. 30 opening of the Carson River Trail System Phase II. This project, funded by a grant from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, created three new segments of trail that were designed for sustainability, accessibility, and connectivity.
They were constructed with a compacted decomposed granite surface and built wide enough to accommodate hikers, runners, bicycles, equestrians, and those with mobility issues. They connect to many existing trails, helping to enhance our network of trails in the Carson River/Prison Hill area with links to downtown Carson City.
The first new segment of this system is the Prison Hill Trail East which is a 1.6-mile long trail that contours along the east side of Prison Hill, connecting the 5th Street Trailhead with Silver Saddle Ranch. A second segment, the Mexican Ditch Trail Extension, completes a missing 0.5-mile portion of the popular Mexican Ditch Trail, and takes you through the historic Silver Saddle Ranch.
Once at the ranch you may choose to take an existing ranch road to connect with Carson River Park, where you can then cross Carson River Road to reach our third new trail segment, the Buzzy’s Ranch Trail. This unique 1.1-mile trail winds through ranchland, groves of cottonwood and past historic ranch machinery. It connects with Riverview Park, completing a continuous five-mile long path along the Carson River from Morgan Mill to the Mexican Dam.
Another great project this year made improvements to the crossing of the Mexican Ditch Intake at the Mexican Dam, funded in part by a grant from the Carson Water Subconservancy District. This new crossing is pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian friendly, and creates a safe portage around the Mexican Dam for small watercraft.
In tandem, volunteers from Muscle Powered widened a section of the previously narrow trail to the south of the crossing, further improving the portage and preparing for a planned landing and take-out location above the dam to extend the Carson River Aquatic Trail. Future plans envision the completion of a loop trail around Prison Hill.
Other exciting projects this year included improvements to the 5th Street Trailhead and placement of interpretive signage on the 5th Street Loop Trails which were designed to be an option for adaptive mountain bikes. We also dedicated “Bob’s Trail” in Ash Canyon to Mayor Bob Crowell prior to his passing and Muscle Powered built a trail on the new Eagle View Open Space which overlooks Carson City from the west side. And you may have noticed new trailhead and wayfinding signage in a number of trail locations – a project that will continue into the new year with the help of Muscle Powered.
Lastly, within the urban corridor, the multi-use pathways along the freeway and south Carson Street were extended further south.
As we reflect on the many benefits we enjoy from our trails and open spaces, let’s also consider the reciprocal care that they greatly deserve. When enjoying public lands, please Tread Lightly and practice Leave No Trace principles so that we leave our cherished places as or better than we found them. Be respectful of others on the trails – “go slow and say hello” when approaching someone from behind, especially equestrians. And if you want to get directly involved with trails consider joining an advocacy group like Muscle Powered in Carson City or the Carson Valley Trails Association in Douglas County. Or keep an eye on our Facebook page: facebook.com/CCPRDept for announcements on unique interpretive events you can join to get you out into our parks and open space.
See you on the trail!
Gregg Berggren is trails coordinator for the Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department.