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The 40 Best Places To Hike With Your Dog In The Reno-Lake Tahoe Area


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ISBN: 9780974408309; paperback, 6x9, 144 pages

Places where you won't be able to wipe the wag off your dog's tail...

A Bark In The Park: The 40 Best Places To Hike With Your Dog In The Reno/Lake Tahoe Region ranks the 40 top places to hike with your dog in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area - all with your best friend in mind. Are there any places to take your dog swimming? Where are the best parks to walk the dog for more than one hour? Where can I find an off-leash "doggie social hour?" Where are the best parks to walk the dog and push the baby stroller? While walking her dog, author Sherril Steele-Carlin also brings along generous helpings of local history, botany, geology, architecture and more.


(Blue Ribbon) Rancho San Rafael Park (city of Reno) A Reno showcase, beautifully landscaped Rancho San Rafael Park serves up several enticing canine hikes: a self-guided nature trail through the many plant zones of the Great Basin, a gravel footpath that circles the wide open spaces of the park, and access to the trails of Peavine Mountain. This park is a favorite for exercising your dog.

(#2) Virginia Lake (city of Reno)
This quiet 21-acre park feels much as it must have when it was founded more than 60 years ago. Little has been altered around the edges of Virginia Lake. One thing that has changed - to the delight of dog owners - is a fenced-in, off-leash dogpark at the northern end of the park.

(#3) Sparks Marina Park (city of Sparks)
The conversion of an abandoned quarry into a popular lake has earned the City of Sparks national recognition. A concrete walking path surrounds the Sparks marina and covers almost two miles. The trail system is lighted for evening walks with the dog. The dogpark is the only off-leash dogpark in the Reno area for dogs to play in the water.

(#4) Mount Rose Wilderness (Lake Tahoe - North Shore)
Even if you decide not to complete the 6-mile, 2000-foot ascent to the summit of Mount Rose, there is plenty here to thrill canine hikers. More than 20 miles of designated trails are available through the canyons and ridges of the high country of the Carson Range. This is the closest wilderness area to Reno.

(#5) Prey Meadows/Skunk Harbor (Lake Tahoe - East Shore)
One of the prettiest canine hikes in Lake Tahoe is the 1.5-mile trek to Prey Meadows and Skunk Harbor. Stroll through thick pines to the meadow, stealing glimpses of the lake as you go. Skunk Harbor is a charming cove with a sandy beach. Beside the path lie remains of an old railroad built in the 1870s to haul timber from Lake Tahoe to Virginia City.

(#6) Galena Creek Park (city of Reno)
Any level of canine hiker can enjoy 440-acre Galena Creek Park, which once housed a fish hatchery supplying trout to Northern Nevada. An easy, self-guided Nature Trail navigates through the park's rich forests - pause to breathe in the rich vanilla fragrance of the Ponderosa pines. More demanding trails climb into the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas.

(#7) Caughlin Ranch (city of Reno)
This planned residential communtiy maintains a 36-mile network of parks and trails the public is welcome to explore. Even though the hikes are often right along the road, the trails still feel like an escape into nature. Your dog can often sniff rabbits, ducks and other wildlife along these paved paths.

(#8) Davis Creek Park (city of Carson City)
Davis Creek offers miles of hiking trails, including routes to Price Lake and the Tahoe Meadows on Mount Rose. Less ambitious canine hikers will enjoy the half-mile nature trail around a tiny pond. The Discovery Trail around the park perimeter is another paw-friendly trail. The spectacular pine trees in Davis Creek Park are some of the oldest in the Tahoe area, survivors of the clear-cutting of the 19th century because they were on private land.

(#9) Hawley Grade National Recreation Trail (Lake Tahoe - East Shore)
The old road connecting Echo Summit to the Upper Lake Valley was built by Asa Hawley in 1855. It was the first wagon road into the Tahoe Basin. Today your dog can trot along the same path used by thousands of westward bound emigrants and the fabled riders of the Pony Express.

(#10) Pyramid Lake (Sutcliffe)
All the fun at Nevada's largest natural lake isn't on the water. There are sandy trails along the shoreline of the 30-mile lake and rocky paths on the eastern flank that lead to interesting tufa formations of blanched white rock. There isn't much shade around the water in the summer but Pyramid Lake makes a great canine swimming hole.


"If your dog is fat," the old saying goes, "you aren't getting enough exercise." But walking the dog need not be just about a little exercise. Here are 10 cool things you can see around Reno and Lake Tahoe while out walking the dog.

COLORFUL FISH. Walking the dog down the Stream Profile Chamber Trail at Taylor Creek Visitors Center leads to a cut-away view of the creek and its underwater denizens. In fall, spawning Kokanee salmon, tinted a brilliant red, swim past the trail. Another place to view colorful fish up close is on the Truckee River Bike Path in Tahoe City. Peer into the water off the side of Fanny Bridge and look at rainbow trout in the headwaters of the Truckee.

FAMOUS ROADS. In the mid-1800s the Reno area was merely a stopover on the way to somewhere else. Many roads were used by wagon trains, the Pony Express and others to reach California including Hawley's Grade, the detour through Dog Valley and mountain passes such as Roller Pass, Donner Pass and Carson Pass. Today, many of these historic routes are public trails hosting canine hikers. Keep an eye out for faint rust marks on rocks that are souvenirs of the wagon wheels of the western migration.

GEOLOGY. The geologic origins of the region reveal themselves in many spots along local trails. At Cascade Creek Falls ridges on both sides of Cascade Lake are visible where rock debris has been pushed by retreating glaciers. This depression, like other similar pits scraped from the rock, filled with snow melt and rainwater to form Tahoe area lakes.

GRAVESTONES. Cemeteries are good destinations for an off-beat canine hike. In Virginia City, the nation's largest federally maintained historic district, are separate cemeteries reminiscent of the boomtown's rigidly structured society. Wander among the headstones that are markers from a time when Virginia City was Nevada's biggest town.

HISTORIC BUILDINGS. Area parks are home to some of Reno/Lake Tahoe's most historic buildings. Relocated to Bartley Ranch is the one-room Huffaker School that predates even Reno itself. In Idlewild Park stands the California Building, built in 1927 and now the home of the Reno Art Center. From that same era, near the Loch Levens Lake trailhead, is the Rainbow Lodge, constructed from hand-hewn logs. Even older, dating back a century, are rustic farm buildings seen from the trails of Wilson Commons Park.

INTERESTING BOULDERS. The Reno/Lake Tahoe region is rife with souvenirs from its glaciated past. Many of these boulders were used by Washo Indians to grind food - look for smoothed depressions in the granite rocks as an indication it may have been a grinding boulder. One good place to see these stones, and learn their story, is at the Lam Watah Washo Heritage Site. Pyramid Lake was named for a triangular-shaped rock that can be seen from trails along its southern shore. And canine hikers on Peavine Mountain can visit the boulders that University of Nevada student arranged into a symbolic "N" in 1913 and they continue to maintain annually.

MAGNIFICENT ESTATES. Your dog can walk up close and marvel at three estates at the Tallac Historic Site - the Pope Estate, the Heller Estate and the Baldwin Estate. Wooded footpaths connect the mansion sites. You can see, but not visit with your dog, Vikingsholm in Lake Tahoe at Eagle Falls and Bower's Mansion at Davis Creek State Park.

OLD FORT RUINS. Fort Churchill State Park contains the ruins of the 1861 frontier fort built to secure overland migration routes. Fort Churchill lasted only a decade and has been in a state of arrested decay ever since. The remains of the adobe buildings can be seen from trails in the state park.

TV AND MOVIE LOCATIONS. Your dog can walk in the footsteps of famous Hollywood actors at sites in the Reno/Lake Tahoe region used to film television shows and movies. The Lower Prey Meadows on Tahoe's eastern shore was a prime location for establishing shots of the great NBC western, "Bonanza." Hoss, Little Joe, Adam and Ben Cartwright could often be seen riding through this lush meadow in the shadow of towering mountains. Any canine hike to Dayton State Park will bring you in the vicinity of filming locations for The Misfits, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe's last movie.

WATERFALLS. The Reno/Lake Tahoe region is certainly not lacking in picturesque waterfalls you can visit with your dog. Some, like Heath Falls, ask for considerable trail time but others like Cascade Creek Falls and Eagle Falls, the only waterfall emptying directly into Lake Tahoe, can be enjoyed with very little purchase.

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