While walking along the mountains, there are great views of the Carson Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. (Photo: Kyler Klix/Nevada Appeal?
The Sierra Nevada dates back approximately 40 million years, according to a Stanford study. It took all those years for water to form marvelous canyons, and they offer some of the best hiking on the eastern side of the mountains.Not too far away in Genoa, there are a couple of hiking trails following streams into the canyons that show off two small waterfalls. The Sierra Canyon Trail (3.9 miles round trip) and the Genoa Canyon Trail (6.2 miles round trip) are well-maintained trails with moderate difficulty (about 1,574 feet of elevation gain). The trails can be combined to create a large loop, which takes 8.9 miles to hike, including about 1.3 miles through downtown Genoa.
You’ll also get vast views of the Carson Valley, where you’ll see the contrast between the desert and forested mountains.
These trails are for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use. On the Genoa Canyon Trail, there is a 0.9-mile section where biking is not advised because of the steepness of the trail and how tight the switchbacks are.
SIERRA CANYON TRAIL
You must park on the side of Centennial Drive and walk up Snowshoe Lane to the trailhead. Be respectful of the homeowners and keep your dogs on a leash here.
Many switchbacks along this trail make the elevation gain gradual and you shouldn’t lose your breath unless you go too fast.
The trail follows a creek most of the way. You’ll see much more plant life due to the water that feeds it all. Wildflowers are already appearing and should be scattered about the landscape by now with red, yellow, orange, purple and pink colors.
There are two places to cross the creek at the end, with the main creek crossing the popular spot to see a small cascade. From here, you can either continue with the loop or turn back.
GENOA CANYON TRAIL
There’s a small parking lot at the trailhead. The trail starts out with a gradual elevation gain as it follows the creek, but then it veers away as it goes up several switchbacks to climb up. The many switchbacks keep the trail from getting too difficult. The dirt path is easy to traverse and you’ll see people of all different ages making the trek.
The waterfall here drops against a solid rock and it’s rushing in the spring. Please stay on the trail and do not try to climb around the waterfall. Refraining from doing this will help preserve the beauty of the area.
You can park at either trailhead to complete the loop. Starting from Snowshoe Lane/Centennial Drive is more of a gradual elevation gain. This hike is 8.9 miles. The distance between the waterfalls is about 2.4 miles and that section has a gradual elevation gain. You’ll get to the highest point along the trail at 6,166 feet.
The trail snakes around the outside of the mountains, so you have different views of Carson Valley most of the time and even in the parking area.
Hiking back through town is a great way to see Genoa also. It takes about 1.3 miles to get from one trailhead to the other, but there’s much to see along the walk on Main Street. The town is known for its natural beauty and historic charm. If you want to add more activities to your day, there are a few things to do. You can stop at the Genoa Bar and Saloon, known as Nevada’s oldest thirst parlor.
There’s also the Mormon Station State Historic Park, the Genoa Courthouse Museum and a few restaurants.
Always remember to respect nature and other hikers. Leave no trace and take everything you brought in back with you.Kyler Klix is a designer for Nevada News Group. He also writes about the outdoors and entertainment. Email him at
Water rushes down a cascade in Genoa Canyon. (Photo: Kyler Klix/Nevada Appeal)