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Prison Hill nice place to escape to " and from

By Sam Bauman

They may close the prison, but Prison Hill will still be there, one of the closest hiking areas to Carson City.

The 2,450-acre Prison Hill Recreation Area open space is there for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, off-highway vehicles (south end only) with great views of the Carson Range and Pine Nut Mountains. Prison Hill is on the southeast side of town and has three parking areas.

The northern end, located off of Fairview Drive, East Fifth Street and Carson River Road, has short loop trails open but is closed to motorized vehicles.

The main community parking area and trailhead is located at the eastern end of Koontz Lane. Trails either connect to other access points or rise in elevation to a loop trail at the top of Prison Hill.

Lots of wildlife roam the area ” coyotes, rabbits, hawks, ground squirrels and deer. Golden eagles are seen at upper elevations. (Carson City’s Web site offers much of this information.)

Vegetation includes Big Sagebrush, Desert Peach, Bitter brush, Ephedra, Indian Ricegrass and occasional Juniper and Pinyon trees. Bring water, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen if you decide to check it out.

The geologic make-up of Prison Hill is of Jurassic aged metamorphosed volcanic rock exposed at the northern end, and a Cretaceous, medium-grained granitic rock at the southern end. In the northern end, as the larger rock mass disintegrates, pieces of broken outcrop appear that are dark-colored and consist of an andesite mud-flow breccia.

Earlier this year there was the Escape from Prison Hill Trail Half Marathon & Relay, 13.1 miles long. Filled with lots of up-and-down hills and major changes in elevation, this race was one that will severely test runners. (We’ll report when the race is held again.)

The starting line is at Silver Saddle Ranch on Carson River Road. After the first three-quarters of a mile, the race course then begins its trek upward into the hills toward Prison Hill. From the 1-mile marker to the 3-mile marker, the course gains about 800 feet in elevation with hills between miles 3 and 5, when the race course begins a steady, steep drop in elevation. By the time runners reach miles 6 and 7, runners have lost 600 of the 800 feet they gained.

After the mile 8-marker, runners then begin their steepest ascent, gaining more than 800 feet in elevation to the top of Prison Hill (elevation 5,675 feet). Then, as organizers describe, it, the “escape” begins. The course begins its steep descent down the southeastern slope of Prison Hill toward the Carson River.

Next time, knee permitting, I’ll try that course.

SQUAW’S EVENTS

This summer Squaw Valley is hosting DJ Pool Parties at Lake Tahoe’s only mountaintop Lagoon & Spa at High Camp, 8,200 feet up. In addition to live music and swimming, partygoers can enjoy the resort’s mountaintop complex with restaurants, bars, an Olympic-sized ice skating pavilion and an Olympic Museum. DJ Pool Party dates include Saturday, June 28, Thursday, July 3 and Saturday, Jul 26 and all parties are free with pool and Cable Car access.

Schedule includes June 28, reggae featuring DJ ILL Tone and DJ TMelody; July 3, ’80s Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring The Freedom Fighta Sound, and July 26 reggae featuring DJ ILL Tone and DJ TMelody.

All DJ Pool Parties are free with pool entry ($12) for 2008-09 season passholders (purchased before June 15). For non-passholders DJ Pool Party entry is complimentary with Cable Car/Swim package. A Cable Car/Swim package is $28 for adults, $24 for youth, and $17 for children.

Squaw Valley USA and the Village at Squaw are hosting Whole Lotta’ Squaw! third of July Independence Celebration, featuring Heartbreaker ” a Tribute to Led Zeppelin. Whole Lotta’ Squaw! is packed with ’70s rock ‘n’ roll themed activities and events leading up to an evening concert and laser light show; Whole Lotta’ Squaw! goes off with a bang from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Visit the online Squaw Valley USA events calendar at http://www.squaw.com.

MAMMOTH ON A TANK

With gas prices averaging $4.24, this summer is the best time to explore outdoor adventures closer to home at Mammoth Resort. Just one tank of gas will take you from Carson City to Mammoth. Get “hooked” on fishing the mighty Owens River or leave ’em in the dust on the legendary Kamikaze downhill trail at Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.

Mammoth Mountain kicks off the summer season Saturday, with the opening of Mammoth Mountain Bike Park and the Adventure Center. The Bike Park crew expects to have 10 trails open on the lower mountain, serviced by shuttle bus, with options for every ability level: Uptown, Downtown, Paper Route, Big Ring, Timber Ridge, Juniper, Lakes Trail, Shotgun, Lower Bullet and Lower Follow Me. The Adventure Center offers Scenic Gondola Rides where kids ride free and Lookout Lunch specials deliver great deals for adults.

Mammoth Mountain Bike Park descends more than 3,000 vertical feet, offering seven new Freeride trails built in the last two seasons and a variety of Single-track and Downhill options for every level of rider.  

The Adventure Center offers Scenic Gondola Rides where kids ride free and Lookout Lunch deals deliver adult value at California’s highest lift accessed point. Reached by a Scenic Gondola Ride, the Top of the Sierra Interpretative Center and Cafe lets visitors explore the geologic history of the Eastern Sierra and grab a bite to eat while enjoying spectacular 180-degree views of peaks, valleys, rivers, and glacial rock formations.

Guests can participate in interactive displays such as Mammoth Stomp, where visitors stomp their feet, creating an earthquake-like shake that is read by a seismometer. Guests can also hike or take a Naturalist Tour departing from the top at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and holidays.

Call (800) MAMMOTH or visit http://www.MammothMountain.com.

NAME A SKI RUN “$15,000

Homewood Mountain Resort, site of the Lake Tahoe Music Festival’s home amphitheater, is rolling out an opportunity to festival members to re-name the “Smooth Cruise” ski run on the resort’s mountain. This one-of-a-kind prize, which comes with a $15,000 minimum bid and will be available for auction every two years, is just one of the many high-end items up for bid at the festival’s annual gala event, set for July 10, exclusively for festival members.

The 2008 season of the Lake Tahoe Music Festival celebrates music from Bach to blues and beyond with eight concerts at four scenic venues. Noteworthy performances include Grammy Award-winning artists Chris Botti and Dave Mason, singer/songwriter Jim Messina, big-band swingers Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and smooth jazz sax player Euge Groove.

The gala event is for members only and tickets are reserved for donors of $1,500 and up. To become a member of the Festival, log on to http://www.TahoeMusic.org or call (530) 583-3101.

– Contact Sam Bauman at or 881-1236.