Exploring Reno’s Fall Foliage: A Guide to the Best Running Routes
Reno offers awesome running in the Autumn season. Not only is the temperature just right and the air crisp and clean, but you can head out for a road run in any neighborhood of the city and see some striking yellow and red trees. Here is a guide to the best running routes in Reno showcasing the full view of the masterpiece that is the changing season.
Timberline Road: Thomas Creek Trail
If you have experienced Thomas Creek in the fall, you may have anticipated seeing it listed here. The twinkling dance of colorful aspens in the Mount Rose Wilderness is a marvel that may make you stop your run to take it in. If you do one trail run this October, make it this one!
To get there, head up Mount Rose Highway and turn right onto Timberline. Follow Timberline for about a mile until you cross the river via a small bridge and park in the parking lot. The Thomas Creek single track will take you westward along the creek at a slight or moderate incline for most of the route. Between one and two miles out, the trail offers a split: turning left will take you up switchbacks to an open meadow called Dry Pond. Continuing to the right will lead miles deep into the Mount Rose Wilderness, making it an excellent option for a long run or hike.
There are few people once you hit five miles out from the trailhead, so as always, text a friend with information about where you’re going and go prepared with more than you think you will need of layers, water, and fuel. The Mount Rose Wilderness trail does follow a very accessible river, so it’s a great idea to carry a small water filter in your pack to drink the river water – it tastes way better than municipal water, is delightfully cold, and is an alternative to sloshing around 2 liters of fluid in your pack. You can use a straw-based filter (I personally enjoy the challenge of getting my face close enough to the river to drink it with a straw – not for the faint of heart), or you can use a flask with a filter built into the mouthpiece (my fainthearted but very athletic and sensible friends choose this option). For the sensible people out there, we do have the Salomon filter flask available on our online store HERE or in person at a Reno Running Company. Spoiler alert – this trail gets prettier the further out you go.
Pinehaven Trail System
There are a few secret aspen groves tucked away in the hills accessed from Pinehaven Road, near Caughlin Ranch. You’ll head up the McCarran loop to its highest point and turn onto Caughlin Parkway. From there it’s a left turn on Village Green and a left onto Pinehaven Road. Park on Pinehaven Road and go ham exploring a plethora of trails, all of which lead to beautiful places a few miles in. These trails also offer great panoramic views of Reno where you can admire a collage of changing foliage down in the city. A lot of people go off-roading with trucks on these trails, but they are an excellent place to run, and if taken to far enough extent, eventually drops you off at the Ditch Trail. These trails are steep at times and will give you a solid elevation profile. There is one small accessible creek on the south end of these trails, but they are otherwise dry to my knowledge.
Phillip & Annie Callahan Park
A hidden gem of a trail can be found at Phillip & Annie Callahan Park, which is another location off Mount Rose Highway. It is an out-and-back dirt singletrack that follows Galena Creek and winds through Montreux Golf and Country Club. Take Callahan Road, park in the designated car parking area, and enjoy the few miles of flat to gently inclined charming, picture-perfect scenery.
Riverside Drive to Idlewild Park
Sure to bring happiness to your day is a flat, out-and-back run beginning at the Hub Coffee Roasters, heading west on the sidewalk along the Truckee River, hopping on the paved pedestrian path at Idlewild Park, following the path through Ivan Sack Park and Crissie Caughlin Park, and into the beautiful neighborhoods beyond if desired! The pretty trees are nice, but the highlight will be rewarding yourself with a delicious cup of coffee upon your return. You can also join a group run at the Hub every Wednesday at 6 AM with Reno Running Company – distance and speed whatever you feel like doing –, with coffee and donuts on us! Store Runs – Reno Running Company
Hunter Creek Trail
The Hunter Creek Trail is a challenging but rewarding six-mile out-and-back that is the path to Reno’s only waterfall. The last mile is a consistent uphill that makes this trail a great training run. Your legs may burn, but you’ll be in perfect bliss, dreamily listening to the creek sounds and admiring the changing aspens in the gorge. In the winter, this trail becomes overly muddy and icy, so it is best enjoyed in this season. There are also a few mildly technical sections requiring thoughtful foot placement on rocks. This trail is frequently trafficked by hikers.
A one-to-two-mile, flat, mostly paved run from Mayberry Park to Dorostkar Park will present you with some beautiful fall foliage. Parking at Mayberry, you can also access the popular Ditch Trail, an elevated, sprawling, flat dirt road that gives nice views of the colorful gardens below. To get to the Ditch Trail from Mayberry Park, run west about half-a-mile until you hit the big rickety bridge, cross the bridge (it taunts the likes of “cross if you dare – not maintained by city of Reno” and squeaks its protest against your quest to conquer it), and head straight up a short section of switchbacks to what will soon be your run’s completely flat destiny.
The desert trails above Damonte High School offer a colorful view of South Reno neighborhoods from an uncommon vantage point. To access these trails, type in Tellurrium Mine Dr in your GPS and park on that road. Expect to make some wild horse friends. The options here are running south to north for rolling hill action or submitting yourself to an intense climb up the mountain, after which you will enjoy a high desert plateau or be too tired to continue. There’s also Damonte Ranch Park, a paved, flat three-mile pedestrian loop that is well-suited for a casual jog with the purpose of appreciating a thriving, quaint community full of changing colors.
Really, no matter where you go in Reno in the fall season, seek the beauty and ye shall find it. It is everywhere. Happy running!