Still time for some easy hiking
Yes, the winter sports resorts are opening up, despite somewhat patchy snow on the slopes. And cross-country isn’t really out there because of light snowfall, although there are some backcountry trails that are useable. So skis and boards ready we look to the sky for more snow.
But if you’re not ready for a little downhill fun, consider taking one more mountain hike before the heavy snowfall makes trails difficult.
Dead Man’s Creek is still possible with small patches of snow along the trails. It’s one of the nearest Carson City trails starting opposite Washoe Lake State Park entrance to the Park. The park was opened on the southern and eastern shores of the lake in 1977. It was established to preserve the scenic beauty of the area for future generations. The cities of Reno and Carson City are encroaching on the lands of Washoe Lake State Park, but it’s protected status ensures the park will remain in its natural state for years to come. Commonly seen wildlife include mule deer, hawk, coyotes and eagles.
It’s off East Lake Blvd. with parking space at the trailhead. It’s easy to spot the small parking area, there’s a big white bark-peeled tree trunk just off the highway.
Park rangers have put up signs about the trail, including warnings about snakes. Signs also warn about the common stinging nettles; to my discomfort I’ve brushed against them. The rangers write the trail is less than a mile.
The trail starts up a small rise to the left looking uphill, after crossing a wooden footbridge over a small creek, usually dry in summer, wet now.
I usually carry a hiking stick on trail, but just a ski pole or two will suffice for the uphill leg.
After a few hundred yards and many wildlife information poles, one comes to a glen of small trees growing along the creek. There’s an offshoot trail leading uphill to the right, but it’s not maintained so skip it for now.
The trail is a slow and easy uphill, bordering a stone-filled creak bed to the right. I’ve never seen game such as deer at this early stage but farther ahead is a wildlife viewing area just where the trail veers to the right uphill. I’ve seen game there, mostly deer and small varmint life.
Once you come to this juncture it’s a steady uphill with at least one bench along the trail, put there by an Eagle Scout who worked on the trail a few seasons ago.
Then it’s a straight uphill go for perhaps a hundred yards to the gazebo on the lip of the hill. The view of shallow Lake Washoe from the gazebo is expansive, including the mountains along the upper north range.
The gazebo is a fine place to stop and rest, sample any lunch you’ve brought along, and for real high-life to try a sip of wine. (Sancerre’s my favorite white).
You can go back the way you came, but if you brought hiking sticks or ski poles you can take the old abandoned trail down. It’s off to the right of the gazebo, starting on flat rocks. Views along this old trail are the best, but you’ll need hiking poles along the way. Take out easy in some of the tight high steps and take your time; it’s steeper and tricky in places.
And you’ll end up at the creek again.
Some snow patches along the way and puddles on the trail, but you can use the higher trail edges to keep footing.
And that’s one way to get one more hike in. It’s an easy one with great views and not too much work.
Incidentally, I have no idea why this is called Dead Man’s Creek. And do stop by the Rangers’ shack. Lots of souvenir items there and the rangers like to talk.
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.