No matter where you are in Reno, if you look towards the southwest you will see a face of a women looking over you. The face is imprinted on Mt. Rose the largest peak in Washoe County, Nevada, which stands at a elevation of 10,789 feet. Mt. Rose is an extinct volcano that separates Reno from Lake Tahoe. This is not the mountain where Mt. Rose Ski Resort is located (Slide Mountain), but welcomes visitors to its ground 365 days of the year. Due to the mountains elevation the majority of the precipitation is snow. This causes the peak to hold some form of snow majority of the year, even during the dry Nevada summers. Don’t let the height of the mountain intimidate you. Mt. Rose is one of the best hikes in the Reno area.
The trail to Mt Rose starts around 8,000 ft. and is 12 miles out and back. If you are brave you can start at the base of the mountain, 5,500 ft., and free hike up the mountain. I have done this once and it was very challenging and terrifying at some points. I recommend you take the trail your first time . The trail provides a good workout, it is challenging, has many natural sights, and is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail.
If you are starting from the trail, you will pull off at the parking lot just past the Mt. Rose Ski Resort if you are heading west towards Lake Tahoe on Highway 431. The trail is just west of the parking lot. The first 1.2 miles are very flat and you will be traveling through meadows and forest. Three miles in you will come to a waterfall. This is the end point for the majority of hikers and is a great place to cool off on a hot day.
You will go right at the waterfall traveling through a tall grass meadow. Once you are through the meadow be prepared to start heading up hill. The next 3-4 miles are straight up and you will traveling through multiple switch backs. Once you are three-quarters of the way up the mountain the trail changes from easy footing dirt to extremely rocky. Be careful at this point and watch your footing. You will hike another half a mile and will reach the two peaks on the mountain. Go to the second one it is less busy and slightly higher. You will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Reno, Washoe, Carson, Truckee, and Lake Tahoe. This is the tallest mountain in the area and allows you on a clear day to see the tip of Mt. Shasta 200 miles away. Be careful on the way down and watch your footing.
If you are looking for a good climb in the Reno-Tahoe area you will not find a better hike than Mt. Rose. If you know of another good peak to climb nearby please let me know. In honor of Earth Day this week, EVERYONE go for a hike this weekend.
Photos are my own