Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snow Terraces Trail

Snow Terraces with Peavine mountain, Washoe County, Nevada
The short Snow Terraces Trail is part of the Peavine Trails network spanning a sagebrush-landscape northwest of Reno, Washoe County, Nevada. This trail connects the lower Poedunk Trail with the higher Halo Trail. The Snow Terraces Trail is used by hikers and mountain bicyclists to get—via Keystone Canyon Trail and Fisticuffs Trail—to the Halo and Bacon Strip Trail. Snowshoers enjoy this trail on those rare winter days on which the snow cover holds from the Snow Terraces all the way down to the Truckee river.

From the Snow Terraces Trail's junction with Poedunk Trail at Trail Marker 37, the single-track trail traces its uphill path along a few switchbacks. The higher you get, the more spectacular becomes the panoramic vista including the Red Hills, Reno and the Virginia Range further southeast. Also, the northern end of the Carson Range with Mt. Rose is coming into better view. Once you have passed the ridge, marked by an inclining dirt road, you will see the other side of the recreational Peavine landscape: the background scenery of Peavine Peak concludes the wavy topography of hills, ridges and canyons. The north-northeast-facing Snow Terraces are just a few steps away. Climbing the “terraces” (actually, it looks more like a stepped hillside) by following the switchbacks, you will soon find yourself on the Halo Trail—at Trail Marker 47

I am still waiting for the day, on which to observe a halo from this location; but in 2012 I found it to be a great spot for watching the solar eclipse

Peavine Peak surrounded by a wavy topography of hills, ridges and canyons
Peavine mountain in winter, seen from the Snow Terraces

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Poedunk Trail, west of Keystone Canyon Trail

Poedunk Trail traversing a typical Washoe County winter landscape with a half & half pattern—a northeast-facing, snowy slope next to a south-facing, snowfree hillside

The Poedunk Trail runs roughly parallel to the Keystone Canyon Trail. Connected via the Rancho Connector Trail (RCT), Fisticuffs Trail and Total Recall Trail, those two hiking and mountain biking trails form the major north-south axis of the current Peavine Trails network, which is projected to further grow westward onto the upper Peavine Mountain hills.

The Poedunk Trail, a single-track trail, is also open to horseback riding. This trail is named after the Poedunks (, a trail club affiliated with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). According to the Poedunk website, the Reno-based Poedunks build and maintain non-motorized trails on Peavine in partnership with Washoe County Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Reno and other Peavine user groups. Let's congratulate them for what they have achieved so far!

All year round, you will come across mountain, snow or mud bicyclists on Peavine trails. I am also frequently meeting hikers and runners, but have never seen anyone horse riding within this open-space neighborhood northwest of Reno.

To get to the south-side “Poedunk Trailhead,” you may either start from the East Keystone Trailhead (see “Getting to the Keystone Canyon Trailhead” in my previous post “Keystone Canyon Trail”) or from the Middle Keystone Access area, just north of the Leadership Parkway. From East Keystone, follow the RCT northwestward, from Middle Keystone, follow the RCT northward: the Poedunk Trailhead is the RCT/Poedunk Trail junction at Trail Marker 34. Go north-northwest on Poedunk Trail. Very soon, you are going to arrive at what looks like a five-trail junction, marked by Trail Marker 35. The steep, dirt-road incline to your left is a non-recommended short-cut to the Halo Trail's Stonehendge section. The two trails to the right are inofficial connections with the Keystone Canyon Trail.

Bullet craters in mapped Peavine landscape
Continuing north on Poedunk Trail for about one mile, you will get to its junction with the Fisticuffs Trail at Marker 36. Further uphill, you will find a vista bench with views of the Truckee Meadows, Huffaker Hills and horizonal Virgina Range. Nearby on this saddle is Marker 37, from where the Snow Terraces Trail winds uphill to the Snow Terraces and Halo Trail. Continuing downhill on Poedunk Trail for about half a mile, you will come to its intersection with dirt road 21535—at Trail Marker 38, next to a former staging area, which was used as a target shooting platform. Now, this is a declared “Congested Area” and the discharge of firearms is prohibited. But bullet holes in the displayed map of prohibited and restricted areas in the Peavine foothills indicate some recent discharge. One bullet almost punched through the “You Are Here” point. From here, Poedunk Trail winds further downhill, passes a small pine grove and continues alongside a creek until it ends at its junction with the Total Recall Trail—at Trail Marker 39.

The east-side branch of Total Recall Trail connects with Keystone Canyon Trail. If you are ready for a larger loop, climb northwest on Total Recall Trail to Trail Marker 49, from where you can return to marker 37 via many switchbacks along Halo Trail and then Snow Terrace Trail. 

Poedunk Trail near its junction with Total Recall Trail
Poedunk Trail near its junction with Total Recall Trail

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Keystone Canyon Trail, Reno, Nevada

Peavine Mountain foothills with Keystone Canyon Trail
The Keystone Canyon Trail connects the East Keystone Trailhead next to the Leadership Parkway in north Reno with the Hoge Road Trailhead, located further north, east of the Lower Radio Towers. This is a hiking, running and mountain bicycling trail, including a trail-side rock outcrop for rock climbing beginners. The Keystone Canyon Trail is the gateway to various single-track trails over the foothills and through the canyons of Peavine Mountain. It also makes for a great snowshoeing trail on those rare winter days during which fresh snow cover does not instantly melt away.

Keystone Canyon stretches north-south, roughly dividing the lower-elevation regions east of Peavine Mountain into the steep West-Keystone hills and the eastern hills of the Rancho San Rafael Park landscape. At the beginning of the Keystone Canyon Trail you will pass junctions, from where trails connect with the western Keystone Canyon Recreation Area and with Coyote Canyon and Evans Creek in Rancho San Rafael Park. Find informative panels on the right side of the trail briefly describing northern Nevada's Sierra/Peavine geology, reflecting on the local human history, and highlighting the local flora, fauna and restoration efforts.

After half a mile or so along the gravel-road section of the trail you will get to Trail Marker 25, where the Fisticufss Trail (spelling at marker) branches off to the left, inviting you to venture uphill towards Poedunk Trail and to the Snow Terraces and Halo Trail. If you continue through the now narrowing canyon for another half-mile, you will reach Trail Marker 60, where the Recall Ridge Trail branches off on your left and becomes Total Recall Trail further northwest. Along the canyon trail, you will soon get to Trail Marker 26, where the right-side UNR DH Trail provides you with various loop option to return to the Keystone Canyon Trailhead via Rancho San Rafael paths.

Getting to the Keystone Canyon Trailhead (East Keystone)
From the intersection of North McCarran Boulevard and North Virginia Street, drive west for one mile and turn right on Leadership Parkway. Continue westward on Leadership Pkwy below the painted water tank for about half a mile. Turn right at the upright stone displaying the trailhead name in all-uppercase letters:  KEYSTONE CANYON TRAILHEAD. At the end of the parking area is a kiosk showing a trail map and other information of interest.
A Peavine multiuse trail map is available at the Poedunk web site at

Keystone Canyon Trail Map: this is a section 
of an older map displayed at the trailhead and 
not showing the now-open Poedunk Trail