featured image showing local hiking trails

Short & Sweet Reno Area Hikes for Non-Hikers

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Perhaps you are like me? I love a nice, peaceful walk outdoors, but would definitely not consider myself “outdoorsy”.  I want an active lifestyle, but I am also wanting to enjoy the experience.  My criteria, except for the occasional more difficult trek, is informed by my bent towards sometimes paved, clearly-marked trails that are not excessively long, difficult, or including a steep gain in elevation. So, without further adieu…  

*Note: I use the trail length term “roundtrip” instead of hiker speak “out & back”, as it has always confused me.

Galena Creek Trail (Shorter “Nature” Trail or Longer Trail) – South Reno / Galena Area

There is a reason this area of Reno is so sought after. Heading out Mount Rose Highway a few minutes off of the 580, you get to this Galena Creek Area. If you are up for a bit longer trail, there is the Galena Creek Trail that is 4.7 miles roundtrip. I would say of easy, moderate or difficult trails, the slight, but steady change in elevation would make this between easy and moderate. However, if you are just feelin’ like a stroll, there is the considerably shorter Galena Creek Nature Trail. This trail is a 1 mile loop with the option for an extra .7 miles.  These hikes, with the sound of adjacent Galena Creek, make you feel like you have gotten further out of town than you actually are.    

Tahoe Meadows South Trailhead (1.3 mile loop) – New Washoe City, Nevada 

Tahoe Meadows South trail is the perfect solution to those who hear of the surrounding trails in this beautiful area that are 10+ miles long (and pretty much have you climbing mountains) and say “Nah, I’m good.”  More power to all of those kind of adventure folks, but I was thrilled to find this shorter trail as you head further out into the wild beauty of the Mount Rose Highway area, almost to Incline Village and Lake Tahoe. The trail begins with a paved wooden walkway heading into the meadow. There are multiple trails you can branch off to, if you want to; but otherwise, it is a literal breath of fresh air to get out there and have a relaxing walk good for you, the dogs, the kids and even grandmama.

inline image showing a dog in a scarf on the Mayberry Park Trail
Mayberry Park Trail – Instagram Image Courtesy of @Sandy.Mavis

Mayberry Park Trail (2-3 miles roundtrip) – West Reno 

Once you wander through the warehouses and businesses along Woodland Ave, you will have the option to dead-end going straight to park just inside the Mayberry Park parking lot or head left to park in the larger gravel parking area along the Truckee River.  This is technically towards the middle of what is known as the Mayberry Park Bike Trail, but I like to hop in right here and head out until you get across the second bridge and then turn around.  A popular place for people biking, picnics and informal gatherings, this is an easy, mostly paved trail when you head east (to the left facing the river), you will pass 2 bridges and a little waterfall.  A note for some extra fun: The Brewer’s Cabinet has their production facility with a tasting room open to the public Friday 3p-7p, Saturday & Sunday 12p-6p at 8565 White Fir St, Reno, NV 89523 and is nestled in that same Mayberry Park area.  

Rancho San Rafael Park (multiple choices) – Old Northwest Reno

Known for hosting such quintessential Reno events as the Great Reno Balloon Race and some of this year’s great concerts for the annual month-long Artown festival, this park that locals often refer to as “San Rafael” is full of options for short hike-ish walks.  One trail option is to walk around the park perimeter starting on the dirt path above the large dog park field, parking on Coleman Street side, and wrapping around the outer fence.  You could also park near the Wilbur D. May Museum and Arboretum and head in through the Arboretum entrance to explore both the Arboretum and the Botanical Garden which is a living plant museum with over 4,600 native and adaptive plant species.   

Tahoe East Shore Trail (5.2 miles roundtrip) – Incline Village to Sand Harbor, Nevada

inline image showing the clear waters one can view from the Tahoe East Shore Trail
View from Tahoe East Shore Trail

This gem goes under the category of a longer trail, but still in the easy zone nonetheless.  It was completed only just a tad over 2 years ago now in 2019. Apart from a hill at the beginning of the hike, it is primarily level and easy-going.  The majority of it runs alongside the lake in some of the prettiest areas Lake Tahoe has to offer with aquamarine water and the boulders and trees surrounding that add to its charm.  You pass several small beaches on the way to the trail’s end at Sand Harbor.  The ideal time to arrive is earlier in the morning to easily get a parking spot at the large parking lot next to the Tunnel Creek Café in Incline Village, Nevada. It is paid parking, but is organized by a simple machine that takes credit cards.  In Summertime, we like to do the first half of the trail and then pay the $2-$3/each to get into Sand Harbor, do a quick potty break, and grab a soft-serve cone at the Sand Harbor Bar and Grill to enjoy the first part of heading back towards Incline again.  One final note: Dogs are allowed on the trail, but not allowed at Sand Harbor. 

Johnson Canyon Overlook via Glacier Way Trailhead (less than 2 miles roundtrip) – Truckee, California

This hike is basically hopping on a longer trail for a short time and then getting a quick reward of arriving at an easy to get to scenic overlook in under a mile.   It only has about 450 feet of elevation gain.  Park at the Glacier Way Trailhead in Tahoe Donner area of Truckee, follow the Donner Lake Rim Trail out to the picnic area/overlook for amazing views of Donner Lake and out across the Sierra Crest.

Spooner Lake (2.1 mile loop) – Located 1 hour and 45 minutes from Reno city center

inline image showing Spooner Lake Trail in the fall season
Spooner Lake Trail

This easy hike is a great choice for Fall! A perfect one to be surrounded by the beautiful, changing leaves all around and along the lakeside. The walk around Spooner is an easy-to-navigate loop and is located a very short hike down from the parking lot above.  There are restrooms near the parking and picnic tables as well.  You will likely see people with fold-out chairs or blankets perched on the side of the lake just taking in all of the pretty. 

This list is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to trail options.  The Reno/Tahoe area truly has something for everyone, even the non-camping, non-hiking folks like me.  Many of these shorter trails work perfectly for snowshoeing in the winter or family “hikes” with little ones as well.  Do you have trail recommendations to share with potential or existing Reno residents?  Feel free to comment below with your favorites! Are you new to Reno or looking to relocate to Reno?

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Lexi King is a wife and a mom of 2 teens and a new Marine.  She has been Executive Assistant to a Reno area CEO for almost a decade and is the writer/creator of the lifestyle blog, Rhythm&Rubbish: One wise-ish mom to another: Finding joy in the tension between the daily routines we embrace (the rhythms) and the unexpected nonsense we endure (the rubbish).  Her dream is to travel, to share stories, to write, and to make a living doing all 3.

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