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Carson Valley Trails

Western Nevada’s Carson Valley has long been a destination for people who love the outdoors. Hikers, bikers, and equestrians follow mountainside logging roads and country lanes in pursuit of the outdoor experience.


Carson Valley, NV | December 01, 2011

Since the 1990s, the Carson Valley Trail Association has been working—with donations, grant money, and volunteers—to connect old roads with many new trail sections, place signs, develop parking areas, and print maps and brochures to make these experiences all the better. Several trails are open, and others are in the construction and planning stages.

The CVTA maintains the Fay-Luther Trail System and Jobs Peak Ranch Trail on the west side of the valley and is a partner with others in the Bently-Kirman Tract Trail that lies across a working ranch with access to the Carson River.

The trails are generally rated easy to moderate, suitable for families with young kids and older folks as well as dedicated hikers, says Jeremy Vlcan, who is a CVTA vice president and helps oversee trail design and construction. The trails are open all year, he says. “Right after a snowstorm, people do snowshoeing and cross-country skiing,” he adds. “The best times are when it’s not very hot or early mornings and late afternoons. It’s very comfortable in the spring and fall.”

The U.S. Forest Service asks dog owners to control their dogs on public land and keep them on a leash within one mile of trailheads. Dogs must also be leashed on all trails from November 15 to March 30 to protect wintering deer.

A volunteer board manages the CVTA, and volunteers construct and maintain trails with contracted help from the Professional Trail Builders Association operating a small dozer. Future trails are proposed around Carson Valley, with the ultimate goal of establishing a 100-mile National Recreation Trail called the Carson Valley Discovery Trail.

In the spring, the newest addition to Carson Valley Trails, the Genoa Foothill Trail System project west of Genoa, is expected to be fully complete.

Fay-Luther Trail System and Jobs Peak Ranch Trail

Hikers, horseback riders, and dog-walkers are welcome on the loops and spurs of the 8.9-mile Fay-Luther Trail System, the first trail established by the CVTA.

Visitors pass through sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and bitterbrush as they gain altitude to where tall pines frame views of the valley and the Pine Nut Mountains to the east. In autumn, aspens glow red and gold. In spring, there are many birds and wildflowers. From the mountainside in summer, hikers can see fields dotted with baled hay and cattle. One drawback: The sandy trails are difficult for bike riders.

“It’s nice, gentle, and relaxing, with great views of the backyard of Carson Valley, and the various trail junctions are well-signed,” Vlcan says. “It’s very popular for the local residents. The parking lot is often full on the weekend much of the year.”

The Jobs Peak Ranch Trail comprises the first 1.5 miles of trail from the Jobs Peak Ranch Trailhead and crosses private land on an easement. Horses and bikes are not allowed on Jobs Peak Ranch Trail, which is a Douglas County trail easement on private land, and dogs must be leashed at all times.

Vlcan recommends that first-time hikers on the Fay-Luther system take the Interpretive Loop, which has interpretive signs. “You learn about the flora, wildlife, and water and about the rich history of the area,” he says. “Then you can explore the other trails.”

The Fay-Luther Trailhead has parking for about 30 vehicles and about four horse trailers. Jobs Peak Trailhead users park in a small, six-vehicle lot or next to it on Foothill Road.

Bently-Kirman Tract Trail

This 5.1-mile roundtrip trail’s two loops and several short river spurs meander through grazing land, with rabbitbrush, sage, roses, willows, and grasses edging the paths to the Carson River. Walkers travel on mostly level ground.

“In spring this is very popular with birders,” Vlcan says. “There are lots of wetlands by the river. There are great vistas. You are right in the middle of the valley with 360-degree views of the Carson Range and the Pine Nut Mountains.”

The Nature Conservancy acquired the conservation easement from property owner Don Bently to preserve a valuable floodplain on a portion of his ranch. The CVTA partnered with the Conservancy, area businesses, Eagle Scouts, and Bently to build the trail system.

No horses, bikes, or dogs are allowed to ensure habitat protection and safe ranching operations.

Genoa Foothill Trail System

The trail up Sierra Canyon was once used by loggers and settlers. The descendants of Genoa pioneers tell how their grandparents and great-grandparents traveled the road by wagon to picnic at Lake Tahoe.

Volunteer trail builders began work in spring 2011 to connect this and other existing mountain roads in the Genoa area with new sections to create a Genoa Loop, access to the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail above Sierra Canyon, and trails to old Kingsbury Grade and the original Pony Express route.

Where the old logging roads are too steep, volunteers are building switchbacks that stay at or below a 10-percent grade. Mountain bikers, equestrians, hikers, and Genoa residents walking their dogs are already using portions of the trail, Vlcan says. “The sections around Genoa are spectacular,” he adds. “People often ask when it will be completed.”

The Genoa Foothill system will comprise about 16 miles of trails on public land and have access points at Eagle Ridge, Sierra Canyon, and Genoa Canyon. The CVTA leaders hope to hold a grand opening during spring 2012.

Getting There

Fay-Luther Trail System and Jobs Peak Ranch Trail

From the intersection of U.S. 395 and S.R. 88 in Minden, drive south on S.R. 88 for 6.5 miles. Turn right on Fairview Lane and drive 1.7 miles (Fairview Lane becomes Foothill Road). The signed Fay-Luther Trailhead is located on the left.

From the intersection of S.R. 207 and Foothill Road at the base of Kingsbury Grade, drive south on Foothill Road for 4.5 miles. The signed Fay-Luther Trailhead is located on the right. The Jobs Peak Ranch Trailhead is 2 miles north of the Fay-Luther Trailhead on Foothill Road.

Bently-Kirman Tract Trail

From U.S. 395, drive one mile east on Stephanie Lane. Turn left on Heybourne Road, drive 0.5 miles. Just beyond the last house, turn left. Small signs on the fence point to the trailhead.

Genoa Foothill Trail System

Hikers now access portions of the Genoa trails from two points, in Sierra Canyon off Centennial Drive and at the water tank off Adams Ranch Road in the Eagle Ridge subdivision. Both are located west of Jacks Valley Road, north of Genoa. The third access point will be at the end of Carson Street in Genoa. When open, these trails will have signs, and detailed directions will be available.

Visit carsonvalleytrails.org for more information and to print the Carson Valley Trails Association’s brochures and maps.

River Fork Ranch

This Nature Conservancy working cattle ranch and nature preserve on the confluence of the east and west forks of the Carson River protects meadows and stream habitats. The grand opening was held this summer for the River Fork Ranch’s Whit Hall Interpretive Center, constructed with sustainable building practices and powered by solar panels.

The center, located 1.1 miles east of Genoa on Genoa Lane, is open for special events. Visitors can see Jobs Peak in the Carson Range and myriad bird species on a trail that leads to a wetlands area, open from dawn to dusk daily.


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org

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