Saturday, February 25, 2017

Out of the canyon: Upper Evans Trail

Upper Evans Trail
Upper Evans Trail with views of Evans Canyon and the snow-covered Carson Range in the background

At the lower Upper Evans Trailhead
Upper Evans Trail is your way out of Evans Canyon north of Reno, where Evans Canyon Trail and Miners Trail close the canyon trail loop—at Trail Marker 6. This junction is located about one mile north of the Basque Sheepherder Monument. The lower Upper Evans Trailhead can also be accessed from the Vista Rafael Parkway.

A couple of switchbacks lead uphill between pine trees toward a hilltop of altered volcanic rock. Enjoy views of Evans Canyon, the Red Hills and the north end of the Carson Range. Alongside the brown-red outcrops, the single-track trail eventually broadens and continues in southwest direction.

Altered volcanic rock next to Upper Evans Trail
Soon, you will arrive at Trail Marker 17, a Y-junction with an option to take Reno Vista Trail and then “N” Trail to descend back into Evans Canyon. Otherwise, continue on Upper Evans Trail by taking the right fork. This single-track trail leads to UNR DH Trail, Keystone Canyon Trail and to the Hoge Road Trailhead.

I am not sure if there is a designated upper Upper Evans Trailhead. Each non-loop trail should have a second trailhead (or trail-end). But Upper Evans Trail loses itself by intersecting and merging with various other trails and dirt roads. Consider Upper Evans Trail as a warm-up trail, if your plan is to manage further distances and longer loops within the network of  Peavine Trails—the growing trail network west of Keystone Canyon.

With regard to mountain biking, Trailfork characterizes Upper Evans Trail as “fun semi-technical singletrack.” Its difficulty rating is “Blue” with a “Black Diamond” climb difficulty. The January and February 2017 snow and rain storms added some extra challenges such as trail cracking caused by runoff water.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Evans Canyon's Miners Trail

Miners Trail follows the west side of Evans Creek, roughly paralleling Evans Canyon Trail. Both trails provide access to other running, hiking and mountain-biking trails of the Peavine landscape between north Reno and Stead in northern Nevada.

Miners Trail between Reno Mizpah Trail junction and “Miners Junction”
At Reno Mizpah Trail junction
Miners Trail and Evans Canyon Trail share the same trailhead at their south end near the Basque Sheepherder Monument next to the Reno Sports Complex and the disc golf field. From the trail intersection at the north tip of the grove through which the Nature Trail loops, Evans Canyon Trail follows the bank of Evans Creek, while Miners Trail (and “N” Trail) ascend westbound—indicated by Trail Marker 10. Climbing a short section, Miners Trails continues as a level, multi-track trail. Pass by its junctions with Snake Run and Reno Mizpah Trail, which both lead downhill to Evans Canyon Trail. Shortly, Miners Trail switches back towards the canyon as a single-track trail and follows a line just above Evans Creek.
Evans Creek with Miners Junction”
Soon, you will arrive at the H-junction at Trail Marker 7. At this so-called “Miners Junction,” Miners Trail and Evans Canyon Trail meet, connected by a path across Evans Creek, which is dry most times of the year. But during snow melting or after plenty of rain the north-south flowing Evans Creek can result in getting your shoes wet while crossing. Return on Evans Canyon Trail, if you simply want to do the Evans Canyon Loop, as shown in the map of my Evans Canyon post. Otherwise, continue north along Miners Trail until you get to an open hill-side stand of pine trees. Here, you will find the older Miners Trail post surrounded by pine-tree twigs, as shown in the top picture.

Hill-side pine trees near the north end of Miners Trail
Ready for a larger loop: Find Trail Marker 6 directing you to Upper Evans Trail leading uphill to Reno Vista Trail and UNR DH Trail. They all traverse sage-covered landscape with open views, making it easy to spot a trail that takes you downhill and back to your starting point.   

Friday, February 17, 2017

Evans Creek and Evans Canyon Trail

Evans Canyon north of the Basque Sheepherder Monument at Rancho San Rafael, Reno, Nevada

Rancho San Rafael Regional Park extends up into the Peavine area, featuring a multi-use trail network north of Reno, Nevada. The north-south stretching Evans Canyon separates the neighborhoods west of North Virginia Street from the Peavine open-space hills, including the one with UNR's letter “N” on its southeast-facing slope.

Evans Canyon Trail is a popular running, hiking and mountain biking trail. Its south end can be accessed from the free parking area at the Reno Sports Complex—northwest of the N. McCarran Blvd./N. Virginia St. intersection. Follow the short trail that traverses the disc golf field and leads to the Basque Sheepherder Monument. Continue downhill to the creek and grove with a Nature Trail. There, a small panel introduces Evans Creek:

Evans Creek probably began to form about three million years ago by erosion of a small stream as Peavine Mountain uplifted along with the Sierra Nevada.

Most of the erosion in the canyon probably occurred during the Ice Ages, when precipitation was greater than at present. Periodic floods caused most of the erosion in the canyon and deposited the gravels in the streambed. 

Although Evens Creek is now covered with heavy vegetation, a future flood could wash away the streambed and the plants. New vegetation would repopulate the streambed, continuing a cycle millions of years old.

The trail downhill from the Basque Sheepherder Monument can get flooded.

Erosion is going on. The winter of  2016/2017 brought more precipitation than recent winters. The temporary streambed seen in the picture above functions as a dry trail most times of the year.

Evans Canyon Trail follows Evens Creek on its left bank for about half a mile. Then, the trail crosses the creek and continues to the H-junction—a cross-creek connection with the Miners Trail. This would be your point of creek crossing, if your plan is to do the Evans Creek Miners Loop bringing you back to the grove. Otherwise, you want to continue on the right side of the creek. Evans Canyon Trail ends where concrete stairs lead up to the Vista Rafael Parkway. But you do not need to return the way you came. Take the U-turn trail below the parkway to get to the Miners Trail and the Upper Evans Trail. The Miner's Trail takes you back to the Evans Creek Miners Loop—the Evans Canyon Loop shown in the map below. It is the nature of a trail network that you can enjoy multiple loop options.

The “You Are Here” point in the map is the trail intersection just north of the grove with the Nature Trail. The trail access information on the board posted at the intersection gives the following trail lengths:
  • Nature Trail: 1.1 mi
  • Evans Creek Trail: 0.7 mi
  • Evans Canyon Loop: 1.5 mi
You will find the names “Evans Creek” and “Evans Canyon”  being variously mixed into “Loop” and “Trail” phrases, depending on trail markers, maps and web sites you read. If in doubt which way to take, orientate yourself by the creek and you won't get trapped in the canyon.

Keywords: Reno, Washoe County, northern Nevada, recreation, outdoors, trail network.

Nearby trails and points of interest: