The Hunter Creek trail is one of the most popular outdoor recreation venues in the Reno area. The trail head is 15 minutes west of downtown and has a well-maintained parking area that features bathrooms, drinking fountains and interpretive maps, and on most any weekend day, the main and overflow parking lots are full, and for good reason.

The single-track trail begins in the arid high desert and transitions into the fragrant pine forest of the Mount Rose National Wilderness. Hunter Creek Falls is a favored day hike destination where camping is easy on flat, soft, pine needles within earshot of the picturesque falls; but in order to access the trail from the parking area, hikers must cross Hunter Creek, which can vary in degree of difficulty depending on the time of year.

A worker prepares the foundation for a permanent bridge across Hunter Creek on July 3, 2019 – image – Nevada Capital News

In the late summer, the creek at the crossing point can be a limpid, foot deep, ten foot wide flow. During spring months, the creek can become a raging and dangerous torrent of log-laden snowmelt from the high sierra. For years, boulders and logs formed the bridge over the creek, and when the crossing is impassible, a trail on the parking area side of the creek enables the eventual use of a metal bridge upstream near a US Geological Survey gauging station. The trail is poorly marked and by no means convenient.

Plans to build a permanent bridge over the creek near the trail head have been in the works for more than three years. Severe flooding a couple years ago altered the creek bed enough to force a redo of the plan. Barring any unforeseen difficulties, Washoe County officials are confident the bridge will be completed by the end of July, if not sooner.

Over coming days, the Hunter Creek trail head parking lot will experience some temporary closures and limited access for installation of the new bridge. Excluding July 4, the trail head parking lot will have limited parking from July 1 through July 5 while the construction crew stages equipment to start bridge construction on July 8. The trail head parking lot and trail access will be closed until the project is complete.

While parking is restricted at the trail head, hikers can park on the nearby Woodchuck Plateau parking area to access the Hunter Creek trail. From Woodchuck Plateau, head west along Steamboat Ditch Trail until you cross Hunter Creek. You then access the trail heading south along Hunter Creek.

Access the Hunter Creek Trail by parking on the Woodchuck Plateau and using the Steamboat Ditch Trail to get you there.- base image USGS Earth Explorer, Nevada Capital News
As you climb the Hunter Creek trail, rock outcroppings become higher and steeper and pine trees become more prevalent at a certain elevation as the trail transitions from arid high desert to pine forest – image – Brian Bahouth
Looking back at Reno from the Hunter Creek trail – image – Brian Bahouth