Six awesome places for camping, hiking, mountain biking and boating this fall
This is the best place in Nevada to rinse and relax after a long day on the dusty trail.
For the sweaty, adventuring masses who crowd our forests, deserts, rivers and campgrounds Labor Day marks the end of summer recreation season.
The days are getting shorter, the kids are back in school and life is shifting into pumpkin spice latte mode.
For the rest of us, camping, hiking, mountain biking and boating season is just getting started. Shorter daylight hours generally means cooler days. Leaves, especially at higher elevation, will start changing color. And, perhaps most importantly, with the aforementioned masses moving on to other things it leaves more open space and open campsites for everyone else.
The next eight weeks are prime time for adventuring as the deserts will be cooling down to bearable daytime temperatures and the mountains aren’t yet buried in snow.
Here are some of the best places to go. Follow the links for more photos, maps and descriptions.
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
Located in Burney, Calif., about 165 miles from Reno, this park has a ton of easy-access car camping sites and spectacular scenery.
I visited on a weekday in October and nearly had the entire place to myself. It’s heavily wooded in the Lassen National Forest and the highlight is a paved trail to the foot of Burney Falls, a 130-foot falls that plunges into a roiling pond.
Click here for more information: McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
Big Meadow to Round Lake and Dardanelles
This is an easy day hike that will remind you what’s great about living in the Sierra Nevada. It starts at the Big Meadow Trailhead between Meyers, Calif., and Luther Pass on Highway 89.
It only takes a few hours and goes to two lakes in the Meiss Country Roadless Area.
The trail is usually in great condition and much of it is maintained by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. Mountain biking is allowed.
Click here for more information: Big Meadow to Round Lake and Dardanelles
Spooner Summit to Snow Valley Peak
This is a challenging, 12-mile hike that takes in great views of Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake. You can park in the Tahoe Rim Trail parking lot on the north side of U.S. Highway 50 at Spooner Summit.
In the autumn you’ll get to see the changing leaves around Marlette Lake from above, which is a treat. Bring plenty of water, this is a demanding route.
Click here for more information: Spooner Summit to Snow Valley Peak
Mills Peak Trail
I’ve ridden this trail twice and had a blast each time. The trailhead is located on Mills Peak near Graeagle, Calif. It takes less than 90 minutes to get from downtown Reno to the trailhead. And the ride down to Graeagle is bumpy, scenic and fast. Oh yeah, there’s a brew pub that’s only about a three-minute drive from Graeagle that has great beer and a fun, outdoor atmosphere for kids and pets.
Click here for more information: Mills Peak
Marlette Flume Trail
I include this on practically every best trail list I make because it is, in my humble opinion, the best mountain bike trail in Nevada.
If you’ve got a shuttle vehicle you can start at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park Spooner Backcountry parking area. Ride up North Canyon Road to Marlette Lake and then take the incredible Flume Trail to Tunnel Creek before the exhilarating ride back down to Tunnel Creek Café.
Highlights of this ride include beautiful changing leaves at Marlette Lake, stunning Tahoe views from the Flume Trail and good craft beer at Tunnel Creek Café. Oh, and if you see café owner Max Jones thank him, he’s the brains and the muscle behind the creation of the Marlette Flume Trail as an amazing mountain biking route.
Click for more information: Marlette Flume Trail
Truckee River Lockwood to USA Parkway
I’m not the most experienced river paddler in the world but I know a nice boat ride when I take one. And I’d say the Truckee River between Lockwood and USA Parkway east of Sparks is one of the most fun and relaxing boating day trips you can make.
Leave a car at USA Parkway, drive back to Lockwood to put in, then take an easy, half-day float through the McCarran Ranch Preserve.
Scenic, easy to access and suitable for just about any skill level.
And thanks to the abundant water last winter and spring the water is still flowing strong this fall.
Click here for more information: Truckee River Lockwood to USA Parkway