Reno's Huffaker Hills Trailhead is the gateway to a hiking trails system that leads hikers to expansive views in every direction. With only modest effort, these trails take the hiker to the higher of the Twin Peaks for a look at the surrounding landscape, including across Reno all the way to Peavine Peak, Sparks, the Virginia Range, Mt. Rose, and south to the hills around Pleasant Valley. Even if you don't get that far, you won't be disappointed just taking a leisurely stroll to closer viewpoints.
The Huffaker Hills trails were opened to the public in September 2005. This 251 acres of public land is in the city between S. McCarran Blvd and the South Meadows / Double Diamond area of south Reno. As a frequent Huffaker Hills hiker, I can tell you that these trails make a wonderful and relaxing place to get away for a while. Just gaze to the west at Mt. Rose and the Carson Range, or east to the colorful slopes of the Virginia Range above Hidden Valley Regional Park, and you can forget for a short time that you are really only a few minutes away from hustle and bustle of Reno's busy streets.
When conditions are right, the volcanic Huffaker Hills crossed by these trails have an extravagant spring display of desert wildflowers. It varies year-to-year, but there are always splashes of spring color, starting with the delicate Beckwith's violet in April or May. If you manage to hit it just right, the number and variety of flowers you can see on a short hike is truly remarkable.
Huffaker Hills Trails
Huffaker Hills trails are well built and provide an easy to moderate hiking experience. Families with children will find this a friendly hiking area. Dogs on leashes are welcome and the trails are also open to mountain biking. The area is wide open, making it easy for those on the trails to see each other and politely accommodate a variety of uses.
The large parking area is gravel. There are several picnic tables, an information kiosk, and porta-potty facilities. There is no water or other services.
Western Loop: From the trailhead kiosk, take the right trail that heads downhill next to the water tank. You'll descend a sagebrush-covered slope into a shallow canyon, then begin a mild ascent as you start the uphill part of the loop. The tread becomes markedly steeper after the trail turns left and climbs back to the top of the loop. Continue straight to return to the parking area. The round trip distance is about 1.2 miles.
Twin Peaks Loop: This loop isn't yet an official loop - part of the trail has yet to be built, so it is necessary to retrace your steps on the return trip. From the trailhead kiosk, hike straight up the wide trail left of the sign. You will soon come to a picnic table and unobstructed views of the Carson Range. Bear left at the fork (the right trail is part of the Western Loop) and continue a short distance to the next intersection. (About halfway between these two corners you will pass an interpretive sign.) Turn right and begin your ascent of the eastern Twin Peak (4851' elevation). You will soon see a reservoir that stores treated waste water used for irrigation and other non-drinking purposes.
There are also wetlands remnants of the large marsh and grasslands area that used to cover this part of the valley (what's left of the original Truckee Meadows). From here, it's a short but steep climb to the summit. From the top, you have a 360-degree view of the Reno / Sparks region. There is, however, one minor flaw - part of the northern view is blocked by the 5011' volcanic cone of Rattlesnake Mountain. Out and back on the Twin Peaks Loop is about 1.5 miles.
Reservoir Lookout Trail: Bear left from the trailhead kiosk and hike down an easy slope south from the parking area. You'll be following a fence and soon see a reclaimed water reservoir. At the T-intersection, continue straight to the reservoir overlook for views of wetlands and Alexander Lake, which is fed by Steamboat Creek and other streams flowing from the Carson Range near Mt.
Rose. Simply retrace your walk to return to the parking area. To make a loop, return to the T-intersection and turn left, climbing a hill to a junction with the Twin Peaks trail. Go straight on the main path and you will return to the parking area after hiking about a mile.
Getting to the Huffaker Hills Trailhead
Heading east on S. McCarran Blvd., cross Longley Lane and take the first right. This is Alexander Lake Road and you will see a sign pointing to the Huffaker Hills Trailhead. Drive one mile up the side of Rattlesnake Mountain and turn right into the trailhead parking area just past the big water tank. For reference, this is near the southeast corner of the McCarran Blvd. ring road around the Truckee Meadows. For more information, call Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space at (775) 828-6642.
Afoot & Afield - Reno-Tahoe
Afoot & Afield - Reno-Tahoe is a hiking guide to more than 175 hiking trips around Lake Tahoe, Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and Minden-Gardnerville. Each entry features hiking time and difficulty rating, a trip description, hiking directions, and a map. Route lengths range from less than one mile to 18 miles. Author Mike White has written numerous guides to trails in the Sierra Nevada mountains and northwestern Nevada.