Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Deadman's Creek Trail southeast of Washoe Lake: the gazebo loop

Gazebo southest of Washoe Lake
The gazebo above Deadman's Creek's riparian zone with snowstorm-swept Slide Mountain in the background (March 8, 2019)
Deadman's Creek Trail consists of a short path through riparian habitat—the interpretive nature trail section—and a loop meandering through an opening canyon uphill to a gazebo vista point. Hikers can enjoy spectacular views of Washoe Lake and the Carson Range throughout the year. A small board posted near the trailhead describes the trail as follows:
This trail takes hikers through a riparian zone along the spring-fed Deadman's Creek. At the trail intersection, the right branch takes hikers to a gazebo overlooking Washoe Valley and Washoe Lake. The left branch follows the canyon up to a dirt road where hikers can further explore the area.
Riparian zone with dead-tree-gate

This is a moderate trail with a short, steep climb to the gazebo (an elevation gain of approximately 380 feet).

The trail name refers to the mysterious death of two ranch partners at Dead Man's Ranch, mentioned in a book with the title “Pioneers of the Ponderosa: How Washoe Valley Rescued the Comstock,” written by Myra Sauer Ratay (1912-199), born in Franktown in the southwest corner of Washoe Lake.
Small rock shelter with lichen and icicles
The lower trail section features various informative panels posted next to native plants. If you follow the trail on the left side of the creek, you will soon get to an Y-junction. The left branch takes you out of the canyon to the mentioned dirt road. The right branch crosses the creek and bends southwest, passing various boulders and rock outcrops—one with a rock shelter—before leading further uphill to the gazebo. 

View of Washoe Lake (left) and the sand dune landscape with flooded areas (lower right)


Getting to the Deadman's Creek Trailhead

Driving south on I-580/U.S.395, exit the freeway southwest of Washoe Lake to get to Washoe Lake State Park. Go east on Eastlake Bouevard. Watch out for a few crosses on the right side of the road with a small parking area in front—less than a mile east from the Wetlands Loop trailhead and about half a mile before you would arrive at the visitor center. To get a local overview, find Deadman's Creek Trail (colored in blue) in the lower right section of the Washoe Lake State Park map.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Goodbye Google+

Gone after April 2, 2019: my Google+ Account (like all other consumer accounts)

My Explore Reno-Tahoe collection including my favorite black bear snapshot and a picture of Reno's historic post office

My Recreating Outdoors collection including links to my posts about the Point Reyes' Kule Loklo Trail and Kehoe Beachside Geology

I have a personal Google+ account, which is going away on April 2, 2019 [1]. This is not an April Fools Day prank. Google+ for “consumers” will be shut down [2].  The reason for the G+ suspension are low user engagement and Google's internal investigation (Project Strobe) resulting in privacy concerns related to the access that third-party developer have on Google and Android products [3-5].

The Google+ Team send me an email with a link to download my Google+ content in archived format, including +1 websites (liked websites) as well as circle and stream data.

To share and keep in memory my Google+ Profile and my collections, I above show selected screenshots.

In addition to posting to Trailing Ahead, I continue publishing on Explore Reno-Tahoe and beyondLatintos and Axeleratio—and share pictures via Twitter (@travelingahead), Pinterest (TrailingAhead) and Tumblr (Axeleratio). More about me at

Here, I like to take the opportunity to thank all my readers; those, in particular, who contacted me forwarding comments and supplementary information or inquiring about re-publishing a liked post in a local newsletter. 

Keywords: social networking, Google PlusGoogle+ shutdown, G+.


[1] My Google+ Home Page “always between borders, bonds and bytes” still available through February and March of 2019:
[2] Google+ profile and page suspension. Google+ Help. Link:
[3] Ryan Whitwam: Google+ Will Shut Down in 2019 After Exposing User Data. ExtremeTech, Oct. 8, 2018. Link:
[4] Swapna Krishna: Google is shutting down Google+ following massive data exposure. engadget, Oct 8, 2018. Link:
[5] Mike Allton: Goodbye Google+. Google Shuts Down Google+. Link:

Friday, December 28, 2018

Around the Nevada “N”-—the Thorton Point Loop

Thorton Point: view of downton Reno, Huffaker Hills and Virginia Range
The Thorton Point Loop is a round trail within the section of Rancho San Rafael Park stretching into the Peavine Mountain foothills north of N McCarran Blvd. This is a popular hiking and mountain biking area just a few miles away from the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). UNR students maintain and paint the rocks that form the hillside letter_“N” with its slab serifs.
 Nevada “N” —slab-serif-typefaced
“N” trail signRecently, I noticed the trail-map entryThorton Point Loop 4.0 mi” in the Evans Canyon Trailhead map displayed at the kiosk in the Reno Softball Complex/Disc Golf Course parking area. Older maps just show(ed) Thorton Point (if at all). Anyway, walk from the trailhead to the Basque Sheepherder Monument and you will see the “N” slope with the Thorton Point rock outcrops crowning the Nevada “N” site. From the monument, hike downhill to Evans Canyon grove where a Nature Trail circles through the tiny forest alongside creek banks. Cross Evans Creek and go upward on Miners Canyon Trail/ “N” Trail leading to the “N” site. Before getting to the letter baseline, turn right at the intersection you can see in the upper section of the picture below.
“N” Trail
Upward to the Nevada “N” and Thorton Point

Mizpah mine tailings
Pass the tailings of the Reno Mizpah Mining Co. site (in the small canyon to your right).
Continue ascending to the fenced-in NV Energy high-voltage facility. At the trail intersection next to the hazardous voltage site, turn left onto Reno Vista Trail. This trail traverses the area between the “N” and Thornton Point.

Thorton Point red rock with lichen and snow
Eventually, the vista trail bends left and descends to its junction with the Rancho Connector Trail (RCT). Continue downhill on the RCT into Coyote Canyon, ending at the Evans Canyon grove. From there, it only is a short distance to the Basque Monument and your starting point.

Trail Maps

Map showing four-mile-long Thorton Point Loop trail (displayed at Evans Canyon Trailhead kiosk):
Nevada “N” and Thorton Point

“Peavine Trails” map:
Find Thorton Point and the“N” in the lower right quadrant of this map. The Thorton Point Loop can be identified by following, clockwise, a section of  the Rancho Connector Trail, Reno Vista Trail, “N” Trail and Miners Cyn Trail.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Olmstead Loop Trail

Olmstead Loop: a horse trail (also used by hikers, dog walkers and mountain bikers)

The Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA) with the Olmstead Loop Trail is a trail el dorado in El Dorado County, California.

The Olmstead Loop is a nine-mile-long round-trip trail through the Sierra foothills between Highway 49 and the North Fork American River west of the community of Cool. The trail was named in 1993 for outdoor enthusiast and mountain biker Dan Olmstead, who owned and operated the Bike & Hike Shop in nearby Auburn.

Kiosk with Auburn State Recreation Area map
The “official trailhead”—the 0-mile point—of the loop trail is located at the St. Florian Court/Hwy 49 junction. The parking lot, equestrian staging area and an information kiosk with a trail map and a biographical sketch of Dan Olmstead are all located behind Fire Station 72 (proudly serving the Community of Cool). The Olmstead Loop Trail can also be accessed from the Cave Valley Gate at the Northside Elementary School about two miles south of Cool and the Catecroft Gate (Gate 158 near the Niegel Lane/Hwy 49 junction) about three miles south of Cool.

Olmstead Loop Trail
Olmstead Loop Trail near its junction with Cave Valley Trail
The section of the Olmstead Loop Trail that runs close and parallel to Hwy 49 passes through meadows with stands of oak and pine trees and a few blackberry patches. The section halfway between Hwy 49 and the North Fork American River includes two steep canyon descents/ascents: Knickerbocker Creek and Salt Creek. On a hot summer day, you certainly will welcome the shade and water you can find there (before the creeks may dry out in late summer).

The first three miles (if starting in Cool) take you to a line of four radio towers. Soon after passing the 3-mile post the trail bends north. Find the beautiful trail intersection, at which the Catecroft Trail (a shortcut from Gate 158) and the Luken's Mine Trail meet the loop trail. On your way to the westernmost point of the loop near McElroy's Spring, you will pass the 4-mile post.  Past the spring the trail soon descends into Knickerbocker Creek. Between the latter and Salt Creek you will cross a paved road. Instead of continuing the loop route, here you get the chance to shortcut and head east: back to the Cave Valley Gate or northeast to the fire station.

Reach the mile-6 post shortly before crossing Salt Creek. The twenty to thirty minute climb out of Salt Creek canyon on a dirt road gets you to the mile-7 post and the northwest tip of the loop. This is the Pointed Rocks area. Lichen-covered outcroppings of various size point towards the sky. The Training Hill Trail connects this place with the Western States Trail and the Wendell T. Robie Trail. To now conclude the loop (back to the fire station), it takes less than two miles—the last half mile or so with Cool in view.

References and more to explore

[1] Olmstead Loop Trail, description and trail map: [accessed Oct. 28, 2018].
[2] Jordan Summers: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Sacramento. Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham, AL, 2008.; Hike 34, pp. 182-186.
[3] Ogre's Trail Guide to Northern California Mountain Biking > Olmstead Loop (Cool): [accessed Oct. 28, 2018].
[4] Cool Horse Trails > Olmstead Loop (part of the Auburn State Recreation Area): [accessed Oct. 28, 2018].

Monday, July 30, 2018

Lily Lake to Susie Lake

Susie Lake with snow-covered parts of the Crystal Range in the far back
The trail from Lily Lake to Susie Lake is very popular with day-hikers and backpackers alike. Tourists and day-hikers may just walk to the Glen Alpine Springs Historical Site or continue to Grass Lake—a 2.7-mile-hike from Liky Lake (one-way). Climbing up to Susie Lake, Half Moon Lake or Mt. Tallac also are day options.

To get to Susie Lake, follow Glen Alpine Trail from the trailhead at Lily Lake to its junction with Grass Lake Trail. Proceed on the 1.8-mile-long section of Glen Alpine Trail (Trail 17E08 in the map below) to the junction with the Lake Aloha/Gilmore Lake trail post. Up to this point the route is the same as described for the Half Moon Lake hike.

Pond with lily pads next to Trail 17E32

trail post at 17E32/PCT-TRT junctionVeer left at the Lake Aloha/Gilmore Lake junction to follow the Lake Aloha direction (Trail 17E32 in the map). After passing various lily ponds, you will soon arrive at the 17E32/PCT-TRT junction (trail post shown on the left). Turn left (southwest) and descend to a beautiful meadow, which is densely covered with wildflowers including alpine tiger lilies. The first Susie Lake overlook is coming up soon. The PCT-TRT makes a half-circle around Susie Lake and then continues westward to Heather Lake and Lake Aloha. Susie Lake's shore allows for stunning views of Cracked Crag and Jack's Peak.

Maroon-spotted flowers of alpine tiger lily
Map of Susie Lake and surrounding lakes and trails including Half Moon Lake Trail (17E31)

More to explore about and around Susie Lake

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Half Moon Lake Trail (17E31)

Half Moon Lake backdropped by Dick's Peak
The level, switchback-free path to Half Moon Lake is a single-track trail within the Desolation Wilderness passing granite-based ponds and lakes surrounded by stunning mountain peaks. The beginning section of the two-mile-long Half Moon Lake Trail (17E31) runs parallel—but at lower elevation—to the Tahoe Rim Trail/Pacific Crest Trail (TRT/PCT) between Gilmore Lake and Dick's Pass. Trail 17E31 then loops around the north side of Half Moon Lake and ends at the smaller Alta Morris Lake. These two subalpine lakes lie just below the treeline at the foot of imposing Dick's Peak (9,974 ft, 3040 m) and Jack's Peak (9,856 ft, 3004 m).

Although Half Moon Lake Trail (HMLT) is a pleasant treat, to do this hike you first need to get to the four-way intersection where Glen Alpine Trail meets the TRT/PCT—half a mile south of Gilmore Lake. This is where the HMLT begins.
Glen Alpine Soda Spring at historical site

The shortest way up to the TRT-PCT/Glen Alpine/Half Moon Lake trail intersection is from the Glen Alpine trailhead. After filling out your day-use permit and box-dropping the requested part, start out on the gravel trail via the Glen Alpine Springs Historical Site toward Grass Lake.

At the Grass Lake Trail junction, continue on Glen Alpine Trail (following the Mt. Tallac direction). This trail ascends for 1.8 miles to another junction, from where two short trails connect with the TRT/PCT: the left-side trail leads to Susie Lake and the right-side trail ascends toward Gilmore Lake and Dick's Pass. You want to take the latter.

Lily pond near four-way intersection
After a short climb you will pass a lily pond overlook point and then soon reach the four-way intersection, at which the HMLT begins.   

Four-way intersection
Enjoy the easy hike along 17E31 through a forested area with occasional views of Crystal Range peaks in the south. On July 24 of this year, when I hiked this trail, the air quality was not the best. But the light-gray silhouette of Pyramid Peak and a white band of snow alongside the north-facing wall of Crystal Range did show up at the horizon.

Half Moon Lake Trail (HMLT) through forested area
Just before arriving at the eastern tip of Half Moon Lake, you will see a couple of little lakes (which I can locate on my map, but which I am unable to identify by name).

One of the unnamed little lakes

Half Moon Lake

Map of Half Moon Lake and Alta Morris Lake with nearby Dick's Peak and Jack's Peak
Does anyone know how the trail label 17E31 came about? Is there a deeper meaning to it? I prefer the trail acronym HMLT that I made up for this this post, which may have been used by other writers as well.

Waterfall above Half Moon Lake

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Tahoe Meadows to Herlan Peak

Granite cliff rocks on Herlan Peak with views toward the south of Lake Tahoe
About halfway between Tahoe Meadows and Spooner Summit, the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) traverses the forested east-side slopes of Herlan Peak. The Tahoe Meadows-Herlan Peak round trip distance is almost 25 miles (40 km). I hiked this trip in June of this month. Both the scenic Twin Lakes and the Sand Harbor Overlook with its unforgettable vistas of Lake Tahoe and the Sand Harbor Peninsula at the bottom of Herlan Peak are worth the trip.

Being at Tahoe Meadows and not sure about a 25-mile-long hike? You don't have to do that one. Exploring the beautiful Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop Trail with its hidden picnic bench or the Tahoe Meadows Loop Tail System may be a pleasant alternative: strolling alongside clear brooks and around wetlands surrounded by sandy hills and pine forest. 

Back on the TRT. This Carson Range TRT section is very popular with mountain bikers. The 9.5-mile-TRT-stretch between Tahoe Meadows and the TRT/Tunnel Creek Road intersection is open to bikes on EVEN days. This north-south section is a mostly gentle trail through pine and fir forests with openings offering views of Lake Tahoe on the west side and Washoe Lake on the east side.

Washoe Lake seen through an opening near Diamond Peak
You will pass the top of the Diamond Peak Ski lift after about five miles from the Tahoe Meadows trailhead. After continuing southward for another two miles, the trail makes a long, descending switchback through pinemat manzanita and chinquapin. Once you have reached the bottom of the downhill path, you will enjoy a relaxing section along the TRT to its intersection with Tunnel Creek Road.

The shallow grass-lined Twin Lakes are located 0.3 miles south of Tunnel Creek Road. Some years, they are dried up by the end of summer and all that is left are boulder-strewn pond beds. 

Upper Twin Lake
Past the eastern tip of Lower Twin Lake, the TRT switchbacks up onto Herlan Peak for “never-ending” 1.5 miles. I saw a lot of cyclists hoping off their bike and pushing. Once you get the sign saying “Sand Harbor Overlook Loop 0.6 Mile,” leave the TRT (and your bike) and make the final steps to the top of Herlan Peak.

Sand Harbor Overlook Loop trail is also known as Christopher's Loop spur view trail—or simply Christopher's Loop (see map below). This 1.2-mile loop trail leads you to the Herlan granite cliff with its spectacular views of Lake Tahoe—and also of Marlette Lake and Snow Valley Peak. If not yet tired, you may want to test your Pacific Crest knowledge by pointing out and naming the peaks and saddles lining the horizon across Lake Tahoe.

Sand Harbor Overlook trail on Herlan Peak

Marlette Lake with Snow Valley Peak seen from Herlan Peak

Looking down from Herlan Peak: tip of the Sand Harbor Peninsula with recreational boat traffic


Getting to the Tahoe Meadows TRT trailhead

To get to the TRT trailhead at Tahoe Meadows, find the parking and rest area half a mile southwest from the Mt. Rose Summit parking area along State Route 431 (Mt. Rose Highway). The TRT passes right through the parking lot. Start at the interpretive board, where trail-map hand-outs are frequently made available. For a short distance, the TRT almost merges with State Route 431, but then veers off to the left. Very soon you'll reach a bridge over Ophir Creek, where the Lower, Middle and Upper Loop Trails intersect. Once you have reached the saddle above Ophir Creek with the first view of Lake Tahoe, you should not have any problems in following the TRT—with occasional TRT marks fixed on the bark of a tree.

Map section with TRT (green) and Tunnel Creek Road (black) in the Twin Lakes-Herlan Peak area