WHAT TO EXPECT: Located along the Truckee River this park has off-street parking and paved walking/bike paths with gentle grades that parallel the Truckee River. Along the way, there are picnic tables (with barbecue grills) and a grassy area adjacent to the path. The riparian habitat consists of mature cottonwoods, willow trees and Russian Olive trees. It is a good place to spend a few hours or a half-day or more birding close to Reno’s western suburbs.
Best time of year: March through October for migrants and nesting birds, but winter offers excellent opportunities to see a variety of diving ducks in the river.
Notable species: Mayberry Park eBird Hotspot
In winter, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, and American Dippers frequent the river, as well as Common Merganser year-round. Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, and Hermit Thrush are possible in winter. Notable raptors include Bald and Golden Eagles, Osprey (summer through fall), Cooper’s and Red-shouldered Hawks. Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls have nested in the park over several years. Tree, Barn, Cliff and Rough-winged Swallows nest in the park. Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Western Kingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, House and Bewicks Wrens, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Bullocks Oriole are common. Hooded Oriole may also be present. Look for Black-chinned, Anna’s and Calliope hummingbirds and Band-tailed Pigeons in summer. Several species of woodpeckers, including Red-breasted and Red-naped Sapsuckers and Lewis’s Woodpeckers are possible. Many species of finches and sparrows frequent the park in summer and winter, check for vagrants among the flocks of sparrows, especially in winter.
The park may be crowded on spring and summer weekends with families picnicking.
HOW TO GET THERE: Google Map of the Area
From the I-80 & I-580/US 395 interchange in Reno head west on I-80 about four miles to Exit 10, McCarran Blvd. Turn left (south) onto South McCarran Blvd. and follow until the intersection with Fourth Street. Turn right (west) on Fourth Street. Follow the road until you get to Woodland Avenue, approximately two miles. Turn left; Woodland Avenue will dead-end at Mayberry Park. There is off-street parking at the park, and paved walking paths.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTES: Mayberry Park Trail Map
From the parking lot the paved path heads east and west along the river. There are large, mature trees along the riparian corridor that offer habitat to nesting birds including most cavity nesters, and often raptors such as Great-horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks.
A paved foot/bike path parallels the Truckee River in both directions from the parking area (total length about 0.7 (round trip 1.4 miles out and back). Several small dirt trails lead through the riparian habitat from the paved path to the river.
To the east, the paved trail ends near a foot-and-bike-traffic bridge over the river that accesses Aspen Glen Drive (Dorostkar Park may be reached by walking along this street for about one-half mile and crossing under or over Mayberry Drive). Walking west along the paved path at Mayberry Park leads to another foot/bike path near the Patagonia Outlet parking area. For an optional side trip, cross the river on this western bridge, go a short distance up the hill and turn left onto a dirt path that parallels the Last Chance irrigation ditch. The trail is about 0.5 mile. There is good birding on either side of the trail and good views down to the river and riparian habitat below. The trail dead-ends at private property, so you must return the way you came (out and back, this will total about a mile).
Optional Side Trip: For those who enjoy a bit of uphill walking, another side trip would be to take the Tom Cooke Trail, which is the steep dirt trail that switch-backs up the slope near the intersection with the irrigation ditch path you just left. The Tom Cooke trails goes about 0.6 miles up to intersect the Steamboat Ditch trail, which is a whole other trip entirely!
WHAT TO EXPECT: Dorostkar Park, in suburban west Reno, is a great place to spend a few hours checking out the bird life near the Truckee River. The park has five picnic tables adjacent to the parking lot entrance, and few inviting benches along paths. The park’s paved and dirt paths have gentle grades that meander through riparian habitat, which consists of Fremont Cottonwood, Red Willow, and Russian Olive trees, with an understory of Wood’s Rose, Coyote Willow, and alder. A mixed sagebrush and rabbitbrush habitat occurs in drier areas away from the river. There is also a nature trail with interpretive signs.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round
NOTABLE SPECIES: In winter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Mergansers and American Dippers may be seen in the river, along with Common Mergansers (year-round). Belted Kingfishers make forays up and down above the river. Hermit Thrush are regular winter visitors.In spring and summer, swallows put on a show: Tree, Barn, Cliff, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows are often seen. In summer, Bewick’s and House Wrens, Black-headed Grosbeak, Barn Swallow, and Northern Flicker nest in the park. Notable raptors include Bald Eagle and Red-shouldered Hawk; Osprey fish over the river summer through fall. Check for Anna’s and Calliope hummingbirds. Black Phoebe hunt from branches over the river. Steller’s Jay, California Scrub-Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Spotted Towhee, and California Quail are present year-round.
HOW TO GET THERE: Dorostkar Google Map of the Area
From the I-80 & I-580/US 395 interchange in Reno head west on I-80 about 4 miles to Exit 10, McCarran Blvd. Turn left (south) onto South McCarran Blvd. and follow until the intersection with Mayberry Drive, turn right (west) onto Mayberry Drive, travel about 1.3 miles and bur right (north) into the parking lot for the park (there is a sign).
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTES: Dorostkar Park Trail Map
Cross the paved bike trail at the end of the parking lot and go slightly left to cross the small footbridge over the irrigation ditch and turn right onto the narrow dirt path that runs between the river and the ditch. There are several short trails down from this path to access the river. Bird the riparian habitat along either side of this path until it ends at another wooden footbridge, which will take you back over the irrigation ditch. Barn Swallows nest under this footbridge and can be seen collecting mud from banks of the ditch to make their nests.
Leaving the footbridge, turn left onto the gravel trail to intersect the paved bike path, which is part of the Tahoe to Pyramid Bikeway, at a foot/bike-traffic bridge over the Truckee River. You can continue east on the paved trail on the north side of the river for a short distance to its terminus at a picnic table. There are a couple of spots here to get down to the river’s edge. Crossing back over the river bridge, you can take the gravel path or the paved bike path back, or the Nature trail to the parking area.
Optional Side Trip:
Mayberry Park is about a half-mile away. To access Mayberry Park, turn left onto the paved bike path, which will take you under the Mayberry Bridge and connect with Aspen Glen Drive. This is a quiet side street bordered by trees and open fields, and the birding is good. Watch for the occasional car or bike and respect the private property on either side of the street. Aspen Glen Drive dead-ends at a foot/bike-traffic bridge over the Truckee River, which provides great views of the river in both directions. Mink may be seen hunting along the banks of the river to the right. A short distance after crossing the river, turn left onto Mayberry Park’s paved walking/biking path, which parallels the Truckee River for about 0.7 mile upstream.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Located northwest of the University of Nevada, Reno, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park covers 508 acres, on both sides of North McCarran Boulevard. It includes the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which offers opportunities for leisurely walks on well-maintained pathways through a variety of habitats in a compact area. North of McCarran the 1.1-mile Nature Trail makes a loop around a natural riparian area.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round
NOTABLE SPECIES: Rancho San Rafael Park eBird Hotspot
In recent years the Arboretum has become a reliable spot for wintering Purple Finches. Migrating and nesting songbirds are present in spring and summer. A variety of waterfowl are often found in Herman's Pond, where Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots and Ruddy Ducks have nested in summer. Great Horned Owls are often found along the Nature Trail, and Virginia Rails and Soras can be found in small patches of wetlands.
Rancho San Rafael Park -
PRECAUTIONS: The park has increasingly become the focal point for many group picnics, weddings, and community-wide events including the Great Reno Balloon Races. It can be quite busy during special events but is relatively quiet most of the time. Hours vary seasonally, so pay attention to gate closure times.
HOW TO GET THERE: San Rafael Park Trail Map
From the I-580 & US 395 interchange, drive approximately 1 mile west on I-580 to Exit 13 North Virginia Street. Turn right (north) on North Virginia Street and proceed 1 mile to the stoplight at North Sierra Street. To get to the Arboretum make a very sharp left onto North Sierra Street and drive 0.3 mile south to the entrance to Rancho San Rafael. Turn right into the park and enter the first parking lot.
To get to the Nature Trail go north from the stoplight on North Virginia Street 0.4 mile, through the McCarran Boulevard intersection, and turn left into the entrance to the Reno Sports Complex. The signed trailhead is located at the northwest corner of the ballfield parking lot.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTES
Arboretum & Herman's Pond: From the Arboretum parking lot, walk northwest to the Ranch House and the path to its left (restrooms), which leads to the arboretum. Explore the trails in this main section of the arboretum and park. Bird the riparian area on the east side of the park, where a small wooden bridge leads to the higher sections of the arboretum. Continue west on this path to Herman's Pond. Here you can continue past the pond or turn left back into the Arboretum. Just beyond the pond is an area of restored wetlands where Sora and Virginia Rails can be found. The path continues through open meadowland and the McCarran Tunnel under North McCarran Boulevard, eventually connecting with the south end of the Rancho San Rafael Nature Trail.
San Rafael Nature Trail: Nature Trail eBird Hotspot
This established, easy to moderate 1-mile interpretive loop trail lies within Rancho San Rafael Regional Park north of the main section. Long-eared and Great-horned Owls and accipiters are often found along this trail. To access the trailhead by vehicle, backtrack through the park entrance to the stoplight on North Virginia Street. Turn left (north) on North Virginia Street. Drive 0.4 mile, through the McCarran Boulevard intersection, and turn left into the entrance to the Reno Sports Complex. The signed trailhead is located at the northwest corner of the ballfield parking lot.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Pyramid Lake, a 125,000-acre desert lake, lies at the terminus of the Truckee River approximately 30 miles northeast of Reno. The lake, a remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan, contains a number of tufa formations and the Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest nesting colonies of the American White Pelican in the United States. The island and surrounding waters are closed to the public, although other areas of the lake are open. A spotting scope is recommended. Pyramid Lake is situated within a Paiute Indian Reservation, and visitors must purchase a day use permit, available at the Sutcliffe Ranger Station or on the Pyramid Lake web site. The web site has up-to-date information on permit locations, hours of operation and pricing. You can also call the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nixon (775-574-1000) Pyramid Lake is a Nevada Important Bird Area.
Best time of year: Waterfowl are present throughout the year. Pelicans nest in spring and summer. Riparian areas along the Truckee River and the Willows can be productive in the spring and fall. Shore birding can be excellent in the fall in low water years at the south end of the lake from the highway to the Truckee River delta.
Notable species: The lake surface is good for American White Pelican in breeding season and diverse waterfowl in winter, with four species of loons and six species of grebes possible. Coastal strays such as scoters and jaegers can be found in the fall. In the summer, Black-throated Sagebrush and Brewer’s Sparrows can be found in the surrounding sagebrush habitat. This area has produced a number of rarities; check the Nevada Birds List Server (see Introduction).
Pyramid Lake eBird Link
Precautions: The Paiute Reservation Council prefers that you stay on established routes. Note: The east side of the lake as well as The Needles at the north end are off limits to the public.
HOW TO GET THERE
Pyramid Lake can be reached in two ways:
Via Pyramid Way: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive east on I-80 approximately 2 miles to Exit 18 Pyramid Way. Turn left (north) on Pyramid Way/SR 445. Drive about 9 miles through residential areas in Sparks with multiple stoplights and frequently heavy traffic. Continue another 30 miles to the junction of SR 445 and SR 446. Just before the junction, a pullout on the right offers a panoramic view of the lake, Anaho Island, and the smaller namesake, The Pyramid. Continue approximately 3 miles on SR 445 to Sutcliffe. Permits are available at the ranger station (intermittent hours) in the marina area at the northern end of Sutcliffe.
Via Wadsworth: Take I-80 east about 30 miles from the Vista Exit at the east end of Reno to Exit 43 Wadsworth. Go left (north). Continue north to Wadsworth and turn left onto SR 447 (about 1.4 miles from I-80). Obey the speed limits closely. Continue north 16 miles to the junction of SR 447 & SR 446 and the Nixon Store. Turn left and continue to the areas described below.
Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/WrEbaUoaVEKmXTuy7
Pyramid Lake eBird Map Link
Note: All descriptions of birding routes are based upon Sutcliffe as the starting point (about 16 miles northwest of the Nixon Store).
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE:
Pyramid Lake Fisheries (PLF) Hatchery: from the junction of 447 and 446 at the southern edge of Sutcliffe turn right (east) on Sutcliffe Drive and go 0.1 mile to a fork where Sutcliffe Drive curves left and a gravel road splits off to the right. Follow the gravel road and bare right where it forks. When you come to the corner of the fisheries’ fence, park along the side of the road and climb the embankment on the left to view the fisheries pond, which can be good for various waterfowl. Return to your car and continue along this road to where it curves to the left. Find a place to park on the left and walk along the fence down to the lake. This area can be very productive for waterfowl and gulls in the fall and winter. Backtrack to fork in the gravel road and drive down to the lake. Turn right and park along the lake shore near the entrance to the fishery. Scope the shore for waterfowl and gulls. If time permits, a walk along the perimeter of the fishery to check the Russian Olives can be productive for land birds. Backtrack to SR 445.
The Sutcliffe Marina area provides a good vantage point for scoping the lake. From SR 445 turn right (north). Turn right on Sutcliffe Drive to access this area. SR 445 becomes a gravel road in 8.3 miles. Enroute stops at Separator Beach, Pelican Point, Windless Bay and Warrior Point can be productive. After the road becomes gravel, drive an additional 2.3 miles until reaching a privately owned ranch on the left and a parking pullout under cottonwood trees on the right. This area is called Big Canyon. Park and explore for migrants and occasional vagrants. Do not trespass on private property on the west side of the road.
The Willows: The large grove of mature black willows near the lake, called The Willows, can be very productive for migrating songbirds. To access the Willows backtrack about 0.3 mile to a blocked dirt road on the left that leads down to the lakeshore (about another 0.4 mile). Park here and bird down to the Willows and the lake shore.
Willows eBird Link https://ebird.org/hotspot/L269368?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec
Along SR446 to the Lakeshore: Backtrack on SR 445 to the intersection with SR 446. Bear left on SR 446 toward Nixon. Check close-to-shore areas for waterbirds and gulls at enroute stops at Tamaracks, Indian Head, Wino Beach, Sandhole, Rawhide, Blockhouse and Cattleguard beaches. Watch for the Popcorn Rock sign at 7.9 miles south of the intersection. About 1 mile farther south, approaching the delta of the Truckee River, a single cottonwood tree marks the location of a left turn onto a gravel road leading down to the lake shore identified by a Trail Access: Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway sign. Scope the lake for grebes, pelicans, cormorants, waterfowl, gulls, and terns. If time permits, a walk east and north along the shore to the mouth of the Truckee River can be excellent in the fall for shore birds. The mouth of the river is usually teeming with pelicans, cormorants, gulls, waterfowl and shorebirds.
Return to SR 446 and continue south 4.1 miles to the SR 446 & SR 447 intersection and the Nixon Store (gas). The Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitor Center (775-547-1088) on the left side of SR 446 is well worth a visit
Numana Wetlands: Take SR 447 right (south) for 7 miles to the Numana Wetlands. If you are returning to Reno or coming from Reno via Wadsworth, this area is well worth a visit, especially in the spring and fall. Turn left at the Numana Fish Hatchery sign (a right turn coming from Wadsworth). Follow the paved road 0.7 mile down the hill to the hatchery entrance, where the pavement ends. Continue straight on the gravel road another 0.2 mile down to a dirt road along the river, following the Wetland Trail signs. Turn right, go 0.1 mile, and park in the grass parking lot at the entrance to the Numana Wetlands Trail/Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, an access point for riparian birding along the Truckee River. Return to SR 447, turn left (south), and follow SR 447 to the I-80 & Wadsworth interchange, as described in the birding route.
Google Map of the Area
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTES: The best birding is from the path that begins on the northern edge of the pond adjacent to Airport Rd. Scan the reeds to your left for Sora, Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren and Song Sparrow. Northern Harriers are often flying low over this patch. Check the dry areas among the reeds for Wilson’s Snipe. At the first corner you will turn right. Proceed down the path and bird the large open ponds and mudflats to your left for waterfowl, shorebirds, and gulls. Check the fences for Say’s Phoebe, Mountain Bluebird, and, in Spring, Barn, Violet-green, Tree, Northern Rough-wing, and Cave Swallows, which will also be swarming the skies above. At the next corner you will turn left. Check the canal to the north for Ring-necked Duck and Cinnamon Teal. If the water to the south is shallow (water levels change here frequently), look for peeps there. The grassland to the north may have Savannah Sparrow and Meadowlark. At the next corner, bird the open pond adjacent to the freeway for diving ducks and check the surrounding trees for Great-tailed Grackle. Turn around here and proceed back the way you came.
There is also a paved path that skirts the southern edge of the ponds, goes under the freeway, and then follows Governor’s Creek all the way to S. Roop St. This route is less productive but can be good for sparrows and wrens along the creek and raptors in the agricultural fields. The path is approximately two miles from Airport Rd. to S. Roop St.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Located off South Meadows Parkway, Diamond Creek Pond is a hidden gem for bird watching. Surrounded by apartments and businesses, there is no designated public parking at the pond (which is one reason many people don’t know about it). Loaded with waterfowl and shorebirds, it’s a perfect place to take a stroll. The marshy stream area is also great for songbirds, swallows, and other wildlife. To get a list of the 130+ species observed here, print out the Diamond Creek Pond eBird Field Checklist to help you with your birding. This easy paved flat walk around the pond and its outflowing creek is less than 2 miles roundtrip. If you just walk the pond, it is around a mile.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round.
NOTABLE SPECIES: eBird Hotspot Link
Besides mallards, coots, and geese, you can also see northern shovelers, ruddy ducks, American wigeons, gulls, gadwalls, and grebes. In the marshy stream area, you'll find barn & cliff swallows, red-winged blackbirds, great-tailed grackles, lesser and American goldfinches, and robins, among other songbirds.
HOW TO GET THERE: Google Map of the Area
By car: Take the South Meadows exit off Hwy. 580 and head to Smith’s Food and Drug Store. Since there is no designated public parking for the pond so your best bet is to park in the northeast side of Smith’s parking lot (close to Smith’s gas station). Then walk across South Meadows parkway looking for a sidewalk heading north past Mountain Lakes Estates Retirement Living – between the gas station and a dental office.
By bus: You can also access the pond with the Reno area’s Regional Transportation System (RTC) bus! The pond can be accessed via RTC Route 56 at South Meadows Parkway and Double Diamond Parkway bus stop. You can then head west along the creek until you reach the pond. Bus stop to pond map. The RTC South Meadows and Prairie Dog bus stop is also close to the pond.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS: Center Creek Waterway is a 2-mile one-way walk (4 miles roundtrip) from Wilbur May to South Meadows Parkway. Located in the Double Diamond subdivision, there is public parking at Center Creek Park off of Wilbur May Drive. Starting at the large pond across from the park, you can see a variety of ducks, shorebirds, hawks, and raptors.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located 73 miles east of Reno, usually requires at least a full day trip. The refuge is located on the edge of the Carson Sink, which is the terminus of the Carson River and consists of numerous wetland units that are managed to maintain natural biological diversity. The 80,000-acre refuge is a designated Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and a significant stopover for migrants along the Pacific Flyway. Stop at the Stillwater NWR Headquarters before entering the refuge (details below). Stillwater NWR is part of the Lahontan Valley Wetlands Nevada Important Bird Area.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: All year is productive, with tens of thousands of shorebirds from late April to mid-May and, again, July through September. Waterfowl, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands, arrive in late fall.
NOTABLE SPECIES: Shorebirds and wading birds are abundant spring through fall, including good numbers of American White Pelican, White-faced Ibis, and Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes. Snowy Plover nests here. Tundra Swans gather in early winter. The refuge is Nevada's largest Bald Eagle winter residence. Approximately half the Canvasback population in the Pacific Flyway winter here. Wintering raptors include Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, and Prairie Falcon. Over 220 species have been recorded here. This area has produced a number of rarities; check the Nevada Birds List Server and eBird below.
eBird Hotspot Link
PRECAUTIONS: Exercise caution driving along the refuge roads during wet weather to avoid becoming mired in muddy dirt roads or shoulders. Plan for sufficient drinking water as well as protection from the elements, especially during warmer months.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive east on I-80 for approximately 32 miles to Exit 48, the second Fernley exit; bear right and over the railroad overpass. Enter the roundabout and exit east onto US 50. Continue 26 miles to Fallon. (Side Trip A) Proceed 12.3 miles on Stillwater Road/SR 116, which turns into East County Road. Stop at the Stillwater NWR Headquarters (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) - 1020 New River Parkway, #305, Fallon 89407 (775-423-5128). Just east of Fallon, NV, turn south on Harrigan Road and go a little over one half mile, then turn east on New River Parkway and take the first right. The refuge office is on the east end of the building. To get to the actual refuge, go about four and a half miles east of Fallon, NV on Highway 50, then head east on State Route 116, otherwise known as Stillwater Road. Stay on Stillwater Road for another twelve miles. You’ve reached the refuge when the pavement ends, but you’ll need to keep going to find the marsh!
Google Map of the Area
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Just beyond the refuge maintenance shop area on the right, park at Stillwater Point Reservoir (restrooms). A short path leads to a large interpretive viewing platform overlooking open water and wetlands. A new, one-way interpretive Auto Tour Route, planned for early 2008, begins at Stillwater Point Reservoir. It travels the perimeter of Duff's Pond, crosses between Upper and Lower Foxtail lakes, and leads west to Hunter Road. Turn left (south) to return to Stillwater Road/SR 116, or turn right (north) and follow the route described below.
To access areas farther north in Stillwater NWR directly from Stillwater Point Reservoir, backtrack 0.4 mile from the parking lot to Hunter Road and turn north into the refuge entrance. Follow the roads depicted on the refuge map (available at the headquarters in Fallon). Two of the best birding areas are (1) along the dike separating the Nutgrass unit from Goose Lake and (2) from the road along the south end of the Big Water unit, located at the end of Nutgrass Road. Return to Stillwater Road/SR 116 and to Fallon. (Side Trips B, C, and D)
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS: The following side trips, in addition to a trip to Carson Lake Wetlands (see Area #1 ), can fill a multiple-day visit in the Fallon area . Another option is to plan to attend the Spring Wings Birding Festival normally held in May in Fallon; contact Stillwater NWR Headquarters (775-423-5128). See a map of the optional side trips below.
Side Trip A Harmon Reservoir: This combination of open water and wetlands, with Russian olives and tamarisks, is en route to Stillwater NWR. After you have turned onto Stillwater Road/SR 116, follow it for 1 mile and where Stillwater Road curves left (north) go straight onto Stuart Road. After 1.1 miles the road becomes dirt and Harmon Reservoir will be on your right. Look for Black Tern, Clark's and Western Grebes, American Bittern, and Bonaparte's Gull. Continue another 1 mile to the northeast corner of the reservoir. Park and bird the dirt road along the east edge of the reservoir. Backtrack to Stillwater Road/SR 116 and turn right (north) to continue to Stillwater NWR, or proceed straight (west) onto Stillwater Road to return to US 50 west and Fallon.
Side Trip B S-Line Reservoir: This reservoir, located northeast of downtown Fallon, is worth a brief visit, especially during migration. From the Stillwater Road/SR 116 & US 50 intersection, travel 3.5 miles west to Rio Vista Road (1.4 miles east of US 95 south/Taylor Street). Turn north onto Rio Vista Road, go 0.4 mile, and then bear right onto Indian Lakes Road (cemetery on the right). Proceed 0.7 mile and turn right on Reservoir Road (dirt). S-Line Reservoir is on the left at 0.5 mile.
Side Trip C Soda Lake: Big and Little Sodas lakes are popularly referred to as simply Soda Lake. Both lakes, situated close together, are surrounded by arid desert sand hills. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended. Big Soda Lake's masses of brine flies and brine shrimp attract large numbers of grebes and phalaropes during migration. Little Soda Lake attracts loons, grebes, diving ducks and terns. This area has produced a number of rarities; check the Nevada Birds List Server (see Introduction). From the US 95 south/Taylor intersection drive west on US 50 4.1 miles to Soda Lake Road. Turn right (north) and drive 3.2 miles. Turn left (west) on Workman Road (dirt) and travel 0.9 mile. Turn left (south) and drive up a short, steep track to the north edge of Big Soda Lake. Turn left and proceed around the east edge of the lake. Continue in a southerly direction to Little Soda Lake. To exit the area you must backtrack to Workman Road.
Side Trip D Carson River Diversion Dam: This is one of the area's best migratory songbird sites. From the US 95 south/Taylor Street intersection, travel west on US 50 7.8 miles (3.7 miles beyond Soda Lake Road) and turn left (south) onto Pioneer Way. At 4.1 miles turn left just before the ditch crossing. Follow this gravel road another 0.3 mile to a dip, which may be impassable during high runoff releases. Turn left, cross the bridge, and turn immediately right. Follow this dirt road upstream along the river. Park and bird the area.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Washoe Valley is located between Reno and Carson City. The area is characterized by a diversity of habitats. It includes Scripps Wildlife Management Area and two shallow lakes, Little Washoe Lake to the north and the much larger Washoe Lake to the south, as well as extensive marshes during wet years. Washoe Lake State Park lies along the eastern and southern edges of Washoe Lake. Tree-lined Franktown Road along the west side of the valley passes farms and ponds at the foot of the Carson Range. Davis Creek Regional Park offers access to forested slopes on the northwest side of Washoe Valley. East Lake Boulevard (sometimes spelled Eastlake) on the east side of the valley passes through sagebrush and bitterbrush slopes of the lower, unforested Virginia Range. Washoe Valley is a Nevada Important Bird Area.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round, with raptors and waterfowl particularly good October through March.
NOTABLE SPECIES: Raptors include Golden Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk year-round and Bald Eagle and Rough-legged Hawk in winter. Tundra Swan may be seen in winter and American White Pelican in spring and fall. Sooty Grouse, White-headed Woodpecker, and Calliope Hummingbird are specialties of the mountains and foothills. The valley offers habitat for shorebirds, waterfowl, and rails. (See the Popular Birding Route.)
PRECAUTIONS: Parking on the shoulders of US 395 along Route Segment #1 is extremely hazardous. This is a heavily traveled four-lane divided highway with speeds in excess of 70 mph.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive south on US 395 approximately 19 miles through the town of Washoe City to the point where US 395 becomes a divided highway. From this point, there are three route segments to bird the valley, described sequentially below: (1) off US 395 along the west edge of the Washoe Lake and marsh system (waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors); (2) Franktown Road via SR 429/Old Hwy 395 along the foothills of the Carson Range on the west side (forest birds); and (3) East Lake Boulevard along the eastern side of the lake and marsh system (riparian and marsh birds and sage dwellers).
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE:
Route Segment 1: (Note precautions above.) Travel south on US 395 4.0 miles to Exit 44 Bellevue Road. Cross over US 395 to the edge of Washoe Lake to view waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, and three species of blackbirds. Backtrack over US 395. Take Whitman Street, the first street to the right (north) and continue approximately 0.2 mile to a dead end. Bird the ponds to the left and right and the Big Canyon Creek delta and marsh straight ahead. (Note: This is a short-radius turnaround.) Backtrack to US 395 and continue south 2.3 miles to Exit 42 East Lake Boulevard.
Route Segment 2: At Exit 42 East Lake Boulevard, turn right (west) at the stop sign and right again (north) onto SR 429/Old Hwy 395. At 1.5 miles turn left onto Franktown Road/SR 877, which skirts the edge of the Carson Range. Pine trees, shrubs, fields, and streams may yield, in addition to species mentioned in segment 1, woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches, and other montane forest species. At about 4.2 miles, Franktown Road rejoins SR 429/Old Hwy 395. Turn left (north) and continue about 2.5 miles to the entrance to Davis Creek Regional Park on the left.
After entering Davis Creek Regional Park go left to the Day Use Area (restrooms). Follow the signs to the Lake View Group Picnic Area. Bird the Jeffrey pines, shrubs, and pond for mountain birds, including woodpeckers, sapsuckers, nuthatches, Western Tanagers, and various swallows and warblers. (Side Trip A) Backtrack toward the park entrance and park to the left in the Campground Visitor Parking, just outside of the Day Use gates. Enter the campgrounds on foot. At the top of the main camp road loop, in the northwest corner of the campgrounds, the thick willows around an intermittent creek form a traditional nesting site for Calliope Hummingbird. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Bushtit, Mountain Chickadee, and various warblers frequent the willows and surrounding bitterbrush. Return to SR 429.
Route Segment 3: At the exit from Davis Creek Regional Park, turn left (north) onto SR 429/Old Hwy 395 and again onto US 395 northbound. Proceed north 2.5 miles to turn right onto East Lake Boulevard; travel 2.0 miles south to Lakeshore Drive and turn right (south). Continue 1.7 miles to a right-turn dirt road into the Washoe Lake State Park boat ramp area (day use fee and restrooms), productive in winter and spring for waterfowl, gulls, terns, Wilson's and the occasional Red-necked Phalarope, and swallows. A few hundred yards east of the park ranger station is a northbound road into the Scripps Wildlife Management Area, closed during breeding season February 1 to June 30. Check ponds for shorebirds, waterfowl, nesting Marsh Wren, Virginia Rail, and calling Sora. A Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and Snowy Egret rookery is situated about one-half mile north (may be flooded).
Return east to Lakeshore Drive. Turn left (north) and drive 0.7 mile to Esmeralda Drive. Turn right (east) and go 1 mile to East Lake Boulevard. Turn right (south). Jumbo Grade 0.5 mile south of Esmeralda on the left may yield Pinyon Jay and Juniper Titmouse. From Jumbo Grade, continue south 3.1 miles to Washoe Lake State Park (day use fee and restrooms). The park is frequently crowded on weekends. A bird list is available. East of the sand dunes on the east shore of the lake, sage scrub species may nest. Bank Swallows nest in the blowouts between the dunes. Check the willows along the lake's edge in the Day Use area for migrating and nesting songbirds.
Returning to East Lake Boulevard, turn right. Just beyond the park entrance at 0.3 mile on the left a large cottonwood marks the entrance to Deadman's Creek Trail. (Side Trip B) Travel an additional 1.4 miles to the observation platform on the right overlooking the Washoe Lake Wetland. Continue right (west) on East Lake Boulevard to return to US 395. Long-billed Curlews sometimes feed in the ranch pastures to the right.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Ophir Creek Trail: In Davis Creek Regional Park, the 6-mile Ophir Creek Trail begins near the restrooms and interpretive signs in the Lake View Group Picnic Area. This is a strenuous hike with a 4,000-foot ascent. The lower portion of this trail is montane scrub, which changes to Jeffrey pine as it climbs. American Dipper occur along the creek in the summer, especially east of Price Lake, about 4 miles up the trail. Sooty Grouse boom near Price Lake in the late spring and early summer. For the upper end of this trail, see Area #17 - Tahoe Meadows and Upper Ophir Creek, Side Trip A
.Side Trip B Deadman's Creek Trail: This is a one-mile trail uphill from East Lake Boulevard. This spring-fed riparian area provides habitat for a variety of migrating warblers as well as nesting species such as Long-eared and Great Horned Owls, Cooper's Hawk, Black-billed Magpie, Lazuli Bunting, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Bewick's and House Wrens, Bushtit, Brewer's Sparrow, and Spotted Towhee.
WHAT TO EXPECT: This urban lake is best known for its waterfowl and gulls, especially during fall and winter. A paved 1-mile walking and jogging path around the lake provides an excellent opportunity to scan and study the large flocks. Patient birders are often rewarded with an unusual gull or duck. More than 110 species have been recorded here.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: November through March, but birding the trees around the park during the spring can be quite productive.
NOTABLE SPECIES: Hooded and Common Mergansers, Snow and Ross's Geese, and occasional Barrow's Goldeneye and Eurasian Wigeon may be seen among the sizable flocks of wintering waterfowl, which include Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Gadwall, and Canada Goose. A surprising number of raptors frequent the lake. Glaucous-winged, Glaucous, Thayer's, Mew or Glaucous-winged x Western hybrid gull individuals can sometimes be found within the large flocks of California and Ring-billed Gulls, particularly in the winter. Also look for small numbers of wintering Herring Gull. Black-crowned Night-Heron have roosted in the large trees at the northeast end of the lake.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive approximately 1.5 miles south on US 395 to Exit 65A Plumb Lane. Turn right on East Plumb Lane and proceed 1.5 miles west to Lakeside Drive. Turn left (south) on Lakeside Drive, drive two short blocks, and bear left to the small parking lot at the north end of the lake.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Follow the paved one-mile path around the lake. Note the small island in the south end of the lake, which has provided nesting habitat for a number of species including California Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, and Snowy Egret.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada west of Reno, the town of Verdi (VUR-dye) is surrounded by a variety of habitats including riparian, meadow, aspen, pine forest, and upland shrub. Although considerable development has occurred here, Verdi still offers plenty of opportunities to view and enjoy wildlife.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: April through October
NOTABLE SPECIES: Spotted Towhee, Mountain Chickadee, Steller's Jay, woodpeckers, and sapsuckers are readily seen. Golden-crowned Sparrow may occur in winter. Watch for Mountain and Western Bluebirds in open, brushy areas and for migrating songbirds in riparian areas. American Dipper is possible along the Truckee River.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, travel approximately 10 miles west on I-80 to Exit 5 East Verdi. Follow the road to Verdi. From I-80 Exit 5 East Verdi, travel 2.5 miles on 3rd Street (unsigned) to Bridge Street.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Turn right (north) on Bridge Street. Check the trees around the fire station on the left for woodpeckers and migrating songbirds. The entrance and parking for Verdi Nature Trail is at 0.2 mile on the right just past Verdi Elementary School. (Side Trip A) Proceed 0.2 mile past the school to the first bridge. Parking is available only on the right shoulder. The Truckee River can be accessed by a rough trail beginning on the right near a rock bearing a plaque commemorating Crystal Peak Toll Bridge. The trail follows the south bank of the Truckee River along the northern edge of a golf course. Birding is also good on the bridge and on foot for the next 0.7 mile along Bridge Street.
From the bridge, drive the short distance to Dog Valley Road and turn right (northwest). Check the old cemetery on the right on Dog Valley Road at 0.2 mile after the turn. At 0.7 mile (Side Trip B) turn left onto the dirt road heading southeast, an extension of Hill Lane (unsigned). Bird along this road for 0.6 mile to the intersection with Sylvan Circle. Bear right (south) and continue 1.0 mile to the end of Hill Lane, watching for Mountain Bluebird on the right.
Turn left onto Trelease Road for 0.1 mile to the main road, 3rd Street. Turn left (north) onto 3rd Street and proceed 0.5 mile to the Truckee River. Cross the river and turn right into the entrance to Crystal Peak Park (restrooms). After leaving Crystal Peak Park, turn right (northeast) on 3rd Street and continue to retrace your route 2.8 miles to I-80 to return to Reno.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Verdi Nature Trail: This 0.5-mile loop trail provides good birding. The trail begins in upland shrub, goes through pine forest edge, then into open meadow, and back to upland shrub.
Side Trip B Toiyabe National Forest: Continue on Dog Valley Road into the Toiyabe National Forest. The pavement ends at 1.0 mile from the intersection of Bridge Street and Dog Valley Road and becomes Sierra County Route 860. This dirt road continues approximately 7 miles to Stampede Reservoir.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Tahoe Meadows is a lush alpine meadow with adjacent montane forest and riparian habitats. At approximately 8,700 feet, this meadow and surrounding areas support a variety of high-elevation bird species. There are two good birding route options: an easy one-hour interpretive trail around the perimeter of the meadow or a three-hour loop which begins in a lodgepole pine forest and follows Ophir Creek along the south side of the Tahoe Meadows.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: May through September
NOTABLE SPECIES: Hermit Warbler can be seen in the pines at the beginning of the longer Ophir Creek Trail loop. Scan the tree tops for Pine Grosbeak and irruptive species such as Red Crossbill and Evening Grosbeak. Aspen groves occur along Ophir Creek in the lowest portion of the route and attract riparian species such as Wilson's and Yellow Warblers. American Dipper can also be observed along Ophir Creek. Mountain Bluebird is possible.
PRECAUTIONS: Be aware of the potential effects of high elevation. A hat and sunscreen are recommended. Mosquito repellant is necessary in spring and summer. Snow may remain along portions of the trails until June. Alpine meadow vegetation is extremely fragile, so do not stray from designated trails.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive south approximately 11 miles on US 395 to Exit 56 Mount Rose Highway/SR 431. Bear right onto Mount Rose Highway/SR 431 and proceed another 15.6 miles to the Mount Rose Summit. At 0.6 mile beyond the summit, turn left (southeast) into the parking area (restrooms) for the 1.3 mile Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail.
To access the 3.0-mile Ophir Creek Trail loop, continue about another 0.7 mile to a wide paved shoulder near a wide, right-bearing road. The trailhead is on the other side (left, southeast) of the highway, where pullout parking is also permitted. Exercise caution when crossing the highway on foot or making a U-turn. Note that this trailhead can also be accessed on foot from the Tahoe Meadows parking and restroom area. A path begins at the the edge of the lower parking lot and initially follows the highway southwest downhill. This path will add nearly 2 miles to the 3.0-mile Ophir Creek Trail loop.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE:
Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail: At the parking-restroom area, check the kiosks and brochures. This is also the main trailhead for the Tahoe Rim Trail, and parking may be crowded on weekends and holidays. The 1.3-mile trail (handicapped access) encircles the meadow and soon leaves any highway sounds behind. The trail is level and well-marked. It winds among huge granite boulders and tall pines and along mountain creeks.
Ophir Creek Trail loop: From the parking areas along the highway, continue past the beginning of the Tahoe Rim Trail at about 0.3 mile and follow the Ophir Creek Trail. The trail travels gradually downhill through pine forest. Look for Clark's Nutcracker, Cassin's Finch, and the usual montane species such as Red-breasted, White-breasted, and Pygmy Nuthatches, and Mountain Chickadee. As the trail nears Ophir Creek at 1.5 miles, stands of aspen blanket the slopes and willow thickets hug the creek banks. Check for riparian species such as MacGillivray's, Wilson's, and Yellow Warblers, Song Sparrow, and Hermit Thrush. Along this stretch the trail also provides superb views of Washoe Valley and Washoe Lake some 4,000 feet below. (Side Trip A)
To return to the trailhead, take the trail to the left heading back uphill, mostly along the creek. Upon reaching the meadow, watch for White-crowned and other sparrow species and Mountain Bluebird. Just before reaching the highway, cross the creek and return to the trailhead. (Side Trip B)
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Ophir Creek Trail: This alpine trail continues downhill from the birding route for a six-mile descent of 4,000 feet to Davis Creek Regional Park in Washoe Valley. A shorter walk down the trail may be worthwhile. The entire trail is very strenuous and requires vehicle shuttling for a one-way hike. Price Lake is at 2.0 miles and a 1,400-foot descent from the birding route. The lower end of the trail may be birded from Davis Creek Regional Park. See Area #20 Washoe Valley Side Trip A.
Side Trip B Connection to Area #14 Spooner Lake: Continue southwest on Mount Rose Highway/SR 431 6.6 miles to its intersection with SR 28. Turn left (south) on SR 28 and drive approximately 12.6 miles along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe to the entrance to Spooner Lake wildlife viewing area on the left (east) side of the highway.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Dedicated in April 1999, Swan Lake Nature Study Area (NSA) is a nearly unspoiled wetland in the midst of suburban housing and warehouses. Depending on annual precipitation, the wetland varies from 100 acres to 1,000 acres. Surrounded by sagebrush, greasewood, and other desert vegetation, this large, shallow lake has a marshy habitat on the west side and adjacent sewage treatment ponds on the east. Over 150 species have been recorded here. Burrowing Owls often nest in man-made boxes located at the west and north edges of the nature study area. Swan Lake NSA is a Nevada Important Bird Area.
BEST TINME OF YEAR: Year-round
NOTABLE SPECIES: Burrowing Owl is present through the breeding season; Tundra Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, and ducks are common in winter. American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, and other shorebirds visit in spring. Check the marshes for Virginia Rail and Sora. Scan the upland areas for sage species.
PRECAUTIONS: Stay off the alkali mud flats and any muddy roads to avoid becoming mired.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, travel approximately 6 miles north on US 395 to Exit 74 Lemmon Drive. Turn right (north) onto Lemmon Drive and, depending on the route chosen, follow the directions below.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTES: Marsh Boardwalk: At the southwest side of the marsh, a floating boardwalk with benches and interpretive signs allows visitors to penetrate the marsh and part of the lake for approximately 300 yards. From Exit 74, follow Lemmon Drive 0.8 mile north to Military Road. Turn left (northwest) and follow Military Road 1.5 miles to Lear Boulevard. (Side Trip A) Turn right (east) onto Lear Boulevard and drive 0.4 mile to its end at a gravel road. Turn left and drive 0.2 mile to the Swan Lake NSA parking lot. Walk to the boardwalk. Trails from the interpretive area preceding the boardwalk also provide birding access around the entire southwestern shore.
After birding the boardwalk area, the water treatment ponds may be reached by returning to Lemmon Drive via Military Road and following the directions below to Patrician Drive (1.6 miles to the left from Military Road). To return to Reno, turn right (southwest) at Lemmon Drive to reach US 395 south.
Lemmon Valley Sewage Treatment Facility ponds: From Exit 74 Lemmon Drive, turn right (north) onto Lemmon Drive. Drive 2.4 miles to Patrician Drive (a well-marked school zone, 1.6 miles beyond Military Road). Turn left on Patrician Drive and make an immediate right turn onto a dirt road, which parallels Lemmon Drive. Proceed 0.4 mile to the Lemmon Valley Sewage Treatment Facility. At the plant bear to the right and follow the 0.3-mile fence line to bird the ponds on the left. At the north end of the fence line, park and walk the fence line or dike. Swan Lake is visible to the north. Walk or drive the 0.3-mile dirt road along the north side of the pond. A good vehicle turnaround is 0.1 mile to the left of the northwest corner of the pond. Return to the treatment facility and to Patrician Drive.
ADDITIONAL BIRDING AREAS: Swan Lake may be viewed from several vantage points, described here in a counterclockwise sequence from southeast to southwest. Distances are in short increments through residential areas.
Side Trip A Sky Vista Pond: From the intersection of Military Road and Lear Boulevard, travel west on Lear into the entrance to Sky Vista Estates and turn at Sky Vista Parkway, the first left (south). At 0.1 mile stop beside a small pond on the right side of the street. A paved walk circles the pond which, although used by local residents and dogs, is worth a short visit.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Spooner Lake, an alpine lake at 7,100 feet elevation, lies within 12,242-acre Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. The 2-mile Spooner Lake Loop Trail is a well-maintained interpretive trail through meadows, pine and fir forest, and aspen groves. There are developed picnic sites spread throughout Jeffrey pines and white firs on the bluff above the lake. Spooner Lake is also a major trailhead for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians entering the back country. The picnic areas and a loop trail provide an easy, accessible mountain birding experience. Spooner Lake is part of the Carson Range Nevada Important Bird Area.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: May through July
NOTABLE SPECIES: Osprey fish the lake. Three species of nuthatches, Steller's Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Brown Creeper, and Mountain Chickadee are resident as are Red-breasted and Williamson's Sapsuckers and Downy, Hairy, and White-headed Woodpeckers. Spring migration brings Common Loon, Spotted Sandpiper, Western Wood-Pewee, Tree and Barn Swallows, Hermit Thrush, Western Tanager, Warbling and occasionally Cassin's Vireos, and a variety of warblers. Sooty Grouse, Northern Pygmy-Owl, and Black-backed Woodpecker are among the more elusive species here.
PRECAUTIONS: This is a popular cross-country ski area during the winter. Also take note of posted cautions about bears.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, take US 395 south approximately 27 miles to Carson City, Exit 43 North Carson Street/US 395 Business. Travel 6 additional miles south through Carson City to the US 50 west/Lake Tahoe junction. Turn right (west) on US 50 and travel approximately 9.8 miles to the US 50 & SR 28 intersection. Turn right (north) onto SR 28 and look for the Spooner Lake entrance on the right at approximately 0.6 mile. Day use fee.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Park near the restroom structure (handicapped access). A kiosk in front of the structure displays a map of the Spooner Lake Loop Trail. From this area, follow signs indicating "To All Trails" in a northeasterly direction. Shortly, at the end of the paved paths, a sign indicates, "Marlette Lake Flume Trail." Follow the broad path downhill beyond the sign about 400 yards to its dead end. To the left is a sign "North Canyon Trail," which begins a 5-mile one-way hike to Marlette Lake. Continue instead to the right, down another 50 yards to the west side of Spooner Lake.
The favored route is to go to the left and circle the lake in a clockwise fashion. In this direction, the first part of the walk is principally in the sun with the latter part passing through more wooded areas. Toward the end of the loop, a sign somewhat south of where the loop began will direct you uphill to return to the picnic and parking area. On leaving Spooner Lake, turn left and backtrack to US 50 for Side Trip A, or turn right to return to Reno via Incline Village (Side Trip B).
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Spooner Summit: Just east of the Spooner summit on the south side of US 50, at about 0.8 mile east of SR 28, is a U.S. Forest Service rest stop (restrooms) and picnic area. There is good birding along a small creek which runs through an extensive aspen grove. You can walk along the dirt road on the far side of the creek. The rest stop is an access point to the Tahoe Rim Trail north- and southbound.
Side Trip B Connection to Area #17 Tahoe Meadows and Area #6 Galena Creek Regional Park: When you leave Spooner Lake, turning right (north) on SR 28 offers a return trip to Reno along approximately 11 miles of the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. At the first stoplight in Incline Village turn right (northeast) onto Country Club Drive, a 2.3 mile cutoff to SR 431/Mount Rose Highway. At the stop sign at SR 431/Mount Rose Highway, turn right (east) to return to US 395 in Reno (22 miles). From this turn, SR 431/Mount Rose Highway passes a notable scenic overlook of Lake Tahoe at 1.3 miles on the right, Area #17 Tahoe Meadows on the right at 4.3 miles, and Area #6 Galena Creek on the left at about 15 miles. Note: SR 431/Mount Rose Highway, which descends from a 9,000-foot summit, is a well-maintained, two-lane mountain highway at times steep and sharply curved. In winter it is subject to very heavy snowfalls and heavy traffic to and from popular ski resorts.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Sierra Valley is a broad, open valley in Northern California with a mix of seasonally flooded sagebrush flats, agricultural fields, and wetlands formed by the headwaters of the Feather River. This area is excellent for wintering waterfowl and raptors, as well as spring migrants and marsh birds. Sandhill Cranes usually nest in the valley. At the western edge of the valley, Yuba Pass (elevation 6,701 feet) offers prime mountain forest habitat. At the right time of year, it is possible to see over 100 species in a day by starting at Yuba Pass in early morning, continuing through the valley, and ending at Frenchman Lake to the east.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Sierra Valley itself can be productive at any time of year. Mid-October through February is the best time for raptors, while May through June offers the most diversity. Yuba Pass is best from May through June.
NOTABLE SPECIES: Sandhill Crane, Hermit Warbler, Black-backed Woodpecker, sapsuckers, Calliope Hummingbird, Sooty Grouse, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Mountain Quail, eagles, hawks, and geese may be found in appropriate habitats. (See the Popular Birding Routes.)
PRECAUTIONS: Exercise caution on dirt roads in central Sierra Valley, particularly after heavy rains.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive north on US 395 for approximately 24 miles to Hallelujah Junction/SR 70. Exit and turn left (west) onto SR 70. Drive 7.9 miles to Vinton.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE:
Springtime Route: From Vinton, continue west an additional 12 miles to A23 and turn left (south). Continue another 11.8 miles on A23 to the Calpine turnoff to SR 89. Turn right (west) on the cutoff and drive 1.3 miles to SR 89. The stand of pine trees on the south side of the road can be a good place to find owls.
Turn left on SR 89 (southeast) and continue 3 miles to SR 49. Turn right (west) on SR 49 to Yuba Pass and Downieville. The willows and small meadows at about 1.1 mile often have numerous warblers and hummingbirds, including Calliope. The lookout at 2 miles is a good place to listen for Winter Wren and Northern Pygmy-Owl. Proceed 4 miles from the lookout to Yuba Pass. Park in the lot on the south side of the road. The first quarter- to half-mile of the roads to the north and south of the parking lot as well as the small adjacent meadow can be productive. These areas, birded in early morning, are the best spots to find Black-backed Woodpecker and Williamson's Sapsucker, as well as Hermit and Townsend's Warblers. Mountain Quail can also be found here.
If time permits, continue west from Yuba Pass on SR 49 for 7 miles to Bassett's Station on the right side of the highway (food, gas, restrooms). Check the hummingbird feeders at the restaurant, then walk to the bridge over the North Yuba River on the south side of SR 49 to look for American Dipper. Retrace your route on SR 49 back to the junction of SR 49 & SR 89.
At the SR 49 & SR 89 junction continue straight ahead 0.9 miles on SR 49/SR 89 to Sattley. (Side Trip A) At Sattley turn left (north) onto Route A23 and drive about 10.7 miles to unsigned Marble Hot Spring Road, a dirt road (look for a small power station just north of the road). Turn right (east). For the next 3.3 miles, until Marble Hot Spring Road joins A24, stop frequently to check for Brewer's and Vesper Sparrows as well as Sandhill Cranes, bitterns, and terns. The old iron bridge is a great place to view up to six species of swallows. Where Marble Hot Spring Road joins A24 (unsigned) at a stop sign, turn left (north) and drive 4.4 miles to SR 70. Route A24 is rather narrow, but birding can be productive. The seasonally flooded sagebrush habitat along this road may produce Short-eared Owl. Turn right (east) onto SR 70 to return to Reno. (Side Trip B)
Fall/Winter Route: From Vinton, turn left (south to Loyalton) on SR 49 and drive 3.6 miles to Dyson Lane. Turn right (west) on Dyson Lane. This is great raptor country. Continue 5.3 miles to Heriot Lane (misspelled "Harriet Lane" on the sign) and turn left (south). Drive 5 miles to SR 49, which follows the eastern and southern boundaries of Sierra Valley. The fields on both sides of the road just before arriving at SR 49 tend to be the best places to find Ferruginous Hawk.
Turn right (west) on SR 49 and drive 9.4 miles to Sierraville. Continue right (west) on SR 49/SR 89 for 4.4 miles to Sattley and turn right (north) on A23. Drive about 10.7 miles to unsigned Marble Hot Spring Road, a dirt road (look for a small power station just north of the road). Turn right (east) and drive 3.3 miles until Marble Hot Spring Road joins A24 (unsigned) at a stop sign. Turn right (southeast) at this junction and continue east (now Dyson Lane) until it dead-ends at SR 49. Turn left (north) to return to Vinton and then back to Reno.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Sagehen Creek: This is one of the finest riparian areas in the region. From Sattley, continue another 3.9 miles east on SR 49/SR 89 to the junction where SR 89 turns south in Sierraville. Turn right (south) on SR 89 and drive 16.2 miles to Sagehen Creek (unsigned). Park in the dirt parking area on the left just before the bridge over Sagehen Creek. Two routes are possible. To follow Sagehen Creek east 2 miles to Stampede Reservoir, take the trail from the parking area along the north side of the creek. To follow Sagehen Creek west, cross the highway and make your way through boggy seep areas along the south side of the Creek, finally reaching meadows and higher ground. The latter option is better late in the summer. From the parking area, return to Reno either by turning left (south) 7.5 miles on SR 89 to Truckee and from there 30 miles back to Reno on I-80 east or by turning right (north) and retracing your route through Sierraville and Hallelujah Junction.
Side Trip B Frenchman Lake: This reservoir lies at the head of a high-walled, narrow canyon in an area of ponderosa pine and mountain mahogany. From Vinton drive 2 miles east on SR 70 to Chilcoot, which is approximately 30 miles from Reno. Turn left (north) onto Frenchman Lake Road/SR 284 and drive 8.4 miles to the reservoir. En route, bird the canyon's rich riparian areas, checking for American Dipper, Violet-green Swallow, warblers, vireos, orioles, and other songbirds. When you reach the reservoir, circled by a good road, park at the dam and look for loons and diving ducks. If time permits, circle the lake, birding along the way; or return to SR 70.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Peavine Peak, northwest of Reno, offers a variety of habitats. The main road passes through predominately sagebrush-covered hillsides, stands of mountain mahogany, and areas of manzanita and assorted low-growing sub-alpine vegetation. An optional side trip provides opportunities to bird riparian habitat. This mountain offers breathtaking views of the entire Truckee Meadows and northern valleys.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: May through September
NOTABLE SPECIES: Check the northern and eastern slopes for Great Horned, Barn, Northern Saw-whet, Long-eared, Western Screech- and Northern Pygmy-Owl. Common Poorwill sometimes return as early as the first part of April. Lazuli Bunting and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher are regular in appropriate habitats. Aspen groves on the southern slopes are good sites for Empidonax flycatchers and Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
PRECAUTIONS: Peavine Peak is notorious for high winds, especially at the top. At an elevation of 8,300 feet, the mountain is much higher than it appears, and inclement weather should not be discounted at any time of year.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive north on US 395 for approximately 8 miles to Exit 76 Stead Boulevard. Exit and turn left on Stead Boulevard. Drive 0.3 mile to North Virginia Street and turn right. Continue on North Virginia Street for 0.6 mile and turn left onto a wide dirt road (unsigned) after the railroad tracks. Although a high-clearance vehicle is recommended, most standard passenger cars can also make it. The road improves after the first two miles.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: From the North Virginia Street/unsigned access road junction, drive 6.7 miles to the top of the mountain. As you travel up the mountain, stop frequently to bird a variety of habitats. Many side roads branch off of the main road. (Side Trip A) Caution should be taken when exploring any of these side roads, which require high-clearance vehicles. There are many areas along the main route that can be birded on foot. Park sufficiently to the side to allow other vehicles to pass. Backtrack to North Virginia Street; turn right (south), proceeding to a left turn onto Stead Boulevard to return to US 395 and Reno.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Common Poorwill road (near sunset): Due to heavy washouts this 1-mile road is only accessible on foot. From the North Virginia Street/unsigned access road junction, drive either 0.5 mile to the south end of the road (on the left) or 1.5 miles to the north end of the road, which cuts back sharply to the left and parallels the main road. The willows along the creek offer good riparian birding, but the area is best known for Common Poorwill, especially at sunset.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Oxbow Nature Study Area is one of the few relatively intact riparian areas along the Truckee River in Reno. It is characterized by mature cottonwoods, Russian olive trees, willows, dense brush piles, and a small pond with thick cattails. A wheelchair-accessible boardwalk begins near the Interpretive Center. This is an excellent place to spend just a few minutes or a few hours.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round. During fall and early winter this is an excellent migrant trap, with spring also good for migrants and vagrants.
NOTABLE SPECIES: American Dipper is possible along the river. Check the willow tops for Anna's Hummingbird, a regular migrant; a few have oversummered. Green Heron and Sora are possible at the pond. White-throated Sparrow, Winter Wren, and Varied Thrush have been found in the area. Check for vagrants among the large flocks of wintering sparrows. Bohemian Waxwings may be found in the large Cedar Waxwing flocks.
PRECAUTIONS: Oxbow Nature Study Area is heavily used by the general public and the local school district for field trips and teacher workshops.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive west on I-80 approximately 2 miles to Exit 12 Keystone Avenue. Turn left (south) on Keystone Avenue and proceed 0.5 mile to West Second Street. Turn right (west) on West Second Street. Drive 0.4 mile to just before the old railroad overpass and follow the road to the left, Dickerson Avenue. Dickerson Avenue terminates in 0.8 mile at the Oxbow Nature Study Area parking lot and Interpretive Center.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Walk to the left of the parking lot to the viewing platform at the edge of the river. Return to bird the cattail pond west of the Interpretive Center. An upper viewing platform affords an overview of the pond and surrounding area. A lower deck brings you pondside. After birding these two areas, follow the boardwalk and path along the Truckee River for approximately 0.5 mile. Return to the Interpretive Center.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a large wetlands area surrounded by agricultural fields about 11 miles northeast of Yerington. The area is managed for waterfowl and has numerous dikes and extensive areas of buffaloberry.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: October through May
NOTABLE SPECIES: Black, Caspian, and Forster's Terns as well as Osprey are present in spring and summer. This is one of the best spots in northern Nevada to see Great-tailed Grackle, Black Phoebe, Blue Grosbeak (usually in the buffaloberry), Ash-throated Flycatcher, Wild Turkey, and a variety of raptors. During migration the area is good for waterfowl and shorebirds; large numbers of waterfowl winter here.
PRECAUTIONS: Check with the WMA Headquarters (775-463-2741) for hunting season dates in fall, winter, and spring. In wet weather the area gets muddy; stay on the roads.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, take I-80 east approximately 31 miles to Exit 46 West Fernley. Drive into town; turn right (south) on Alternate US 95 to Hawthorne/Yerington. Follow Alternate US 95 through Silver Springs to Wabuska, approximately 34 miles south of Fernley. Continue another 1.1 miles to Sierra Way. Sierra Way, however, may be closed October 1 through January 1 for hunting. If so, continue another 5.4 miles south to Miller Lane, drive east 3 miles, turn left (north) into the WMA, and reverse the directions given in the Popular Birding Route.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: If you use Sierra Way, drive 1.5 miles to Lux Lane (dirt) and turn right. There is a good marshy area on the left side of the road at 1.6 miles. Turn left at that point and proceed to the Fort Churchill Pond parking area. Bird the area, then continue a short walk up to the top of the nearby dike, a good spot for accessing the south end of the cooling ponds associated with the Fort Churchill Power Station.
Return to Lux Lane and continue south 2.2 miles past the WMA Headquarters to the road entering the pond areas, birding the buffaloberry along the side of the road. The extensive pond areas may be birded by vehicle or on foot. Continue 2.8 miles on Lux Lane to Miller Lane. Turn right (west) on Miller Lane to return to Alternate US 95, or turn left (east) to bird the surrounding agricultural fields. To the east, Miller Lane turns south and becomes Aiazzi Lane, which ends in 2.0 miles at Pete Hendricks Road. Turn right and continue birding another 2.3 miles, to where Pete Hendricks Road connects with Alternate US 95. (Side Trip A) Turn right (west) to drive into Yerington. To return to Reno, continue north on Alternate US 95 back to I-80 west in Fernley.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Walker Lake: From the intersection of Pete Hendricks Road and Alternate US 95, take Alternate US 95 left (east) 25 miles to Schurz, then continue 19 miles south on US 95 to the lake. From Sportsman's Beach just off of US 95 scope for waterfowl that eat plants and invertebrates like American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, Eared Grebe, Wester/Clark's Grebe, Lesser Scaup, Green-winged Teal.
WHAT TO EXPECT: This large, shallow lake in northern California approximately 70 miles north of Reno is surrounded by agricultural fields and sagebrush steppe. The area is well known for large flocks of migrating geese, swans, and cranes. The northern edge of the lake is bordered by wildlife areas managed by the California Department of Fish and Game, Honey Lake Wildlife Area (530-254-6644). This is a loop trip beginning at the Fleming Unit of the Honey Lake Wildlife Area, 89 miles from the I-80 & US 395 interchange in Reno.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Mid-October to mid-March excellent for raptors and waterfowl. Heavy migration March through late April.
NOTABLE SPECIES: Large migrating flocks of Sandhill Crane, White-faced Ibis, Snow and Ross's Geese (check for blue morph), and Tundra Swan fill the sky in spring and fall. Scan the ponds for waterfowl in fall and winter. Check for shorebirds during migration. Wintering raptors include Bald Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, and Prairie Falcon. Lewis's and Acorn Woodpeckers are locally common in the foothills. Greater Sage-Grouse dwell in sagebrush habitat to the north of the lake.
PRECAUTIONS: From mid-October to mid-January hunting is permitted every Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday. On off-days access areas are also closed in order to allow waterfowl to rest. Birding during these times is limited to the headquarters area at the Fleming Unit parking lot and camping area and outside of the gate at the Dakin Unit.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive north on US 395 approximately 69 miles to the highway rest stop, a good place for a morning chorus (restrooms). Continue north on US 395 another 2.4 miles and turn right on the road to Alturas, Lassen County Road A3/Standish-Buntingville Road.
From the intersection of US 395 and County Route A3/Standish-Buntingville Road, go approximately 8.5 miles on A3 to the intersection at Standish, where A3 rejoins US 395 (gas, mini-mart, and delicatessen on the left). Turn right (east) on US 395 and go approximately 2.3 miles to Litchfield. (Side Trip A) Continue through Litchfield another 3.5 miles to Mapes Road/County Road 305. Look for the sign to Honey Lake Wildlife Area Fleming Unit and the Wildlife Viewing sign. Turn right (south) on Mapes Road. Drive 1.9 miles, birding along the way, and turn left on Fish and Game Road/County Road 318. Continue 1 mile and turn into the Fleming Unit (restrooms) on the right.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Start the loop at the Fleming Unit, the Wildlife Area headquarters. Check for birding information at the sign-in station. Register your car and continue into the unit to bird. Exit the Fleming Unit by backtracking to the intersection of Fish and Game Road and Mapes Road. Turn left (south) on Mapes Road /County Road 305.
At 2.0 miles Mapes Road meets Capezolli Lane, where Mapes turns sharply left. Continue on Mapes Road another 2.5 miles to the intersection with Galeppi Road/County Road 303, where the pavement ends. The entrance to the Dakin Unit is on the immediate left. Drive into the unit 0.4 mile to the parking lot (restrooms). Register your car at the information sign. Then proceed through the gate and follow the signs to Parking Lot 4 (2.3 miles) to access the wetlands.
To return to Reno, retrace the route to Mapes Road, turn left, and drive 2.8 miles back to County Road A3. Turn left on A3 to return to US 395. Go south (left) on US 395 to Reno (Side Trip B).
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Lewis's and Acorn Woodpecker stop: For a special treat on the return trip to Reno, stop at a dirt pullout on the east side of US 395 about 2.9 miles south of the Honey Lake rest stop and at the very end of the passing lane for oncoming traffic. The pullout is in a stand of tall pine trees on the left. Check the trees on the east side of the fence. Lewis's and Acorn Woodpeckers and Mountain Bluebird are often seen in this area.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Galena Creek Regional Park is the trailhead for the 9.2-mile Jones Creek-Whites Creek Loop Trail up the eastern side of Mount Rose. The Mount Rose Wilderness Area, which affords isolation normally found in more remote areas, may be accessed from the western edge of the loop. Habitats range from narrow riparian to open sage to deep conifer forest, and the 2000-foot elevation gain adds to the diversity of habitat. In the canyons, moist north-facing and drier south-facing slopes also produce very different habitats. One can walk part or all of the loop or simply bird from the trailhead area. The estimated walking time for the entire loop is 6 to 8 hours. The description of the Popular Birding Route is followed by an alternate access route to Whites Creek Canyon. Galena Creek Regional Park lies within the Carson Range Important Bird Area.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Mid-May into July for breeding birds. Some upper montane species move to the lower elevations in the winter.
NOTABLE SPECIES: All year: Northern Goshawk, Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers, White-headed Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker, Steller's Jay, all three nuthatches. Summer: Black-chinned (May through August) and Rufous (July and August) Hummingbirds, Cassin's and Warbling Vireos, MacGillivray's, Black-throated Gray, and Hermit Warblers, Green-tailed Towhee, and Fox Sparrow.
PRECAUTIONS: Snow limits access to many parts of the loop in the winter. If snow melt runoff is high or prolonged, crossing the creeks can be treacherous. Be aware of the effects of high elevation as well as potentially dramatic temperature changes during the course of the day.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, go approximately 11 miles south on US 395 to Exit 56 Mount Rose Highway/SR 431. Bear right onto SR 431, proceed west-southwest for approximately 6.1 miles, 1.6 miles beyond Timberline Drive (Side Trip A), and turn right at the sign for the first entrance into Galena Creek Regional Park North Entrance (open at 8:00 am). Follow the one-way signs uphill and around a loop to the trailhead parking lot at the end of the paved road.
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Bird the parking and picnic area and the initial portion of the trail for montane forest and shrub species. Brochures with trail maps are available at the large trailhead sign. To access the loop trail from the trailhead, follow the signposts along the wide path that leads to the Jones Creek-Whites Creek Loop Trail. Take the trail to the right (north), which passes through an open pine forest. After about 0.5 mile, the trail crosses Jones Creek, where the loop trail begins. The Jones Creek trailhead is to the left, the Whites Creek trail to the right. Many hikers elect to walk to the right, traveling counterclockwise to descend the demanding portions of the Jones Creek trail.
Jones Creek trail: This rigorous trail climbs first moderately then steeply through switch-backs to the saddle between the two creeks and eventually meets the Whites Creek trail. The trail passes through open forest, low brush, and some stretches of open sage. Check overhead for Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, and Northern Goshawks. The calls of Clark's Nutcrackers frequently echo through the canyon.
Whites Creek trail: This trail starts as a dirt road up to the Mount Rose Wilderness boundary, at which point it becomes a single-track path. The trail remains close to the creek and riparian habitat, and it passes through moist spruce-fir forests along some stretches. Mountain Chickadee, nuthatches (including Pygmy), and Brown Creeper are common throughout. Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers and White-headed Woodpecker are present as well
Alternate access to Whites Creek Canyon and trail: Prior to reaching Galena Creek Regional Park, at 4.5 miles west of US 395, turn right (north) off Mount Rose Highway/SR 431 onto North Timberline Drive. (Side Trip A) After 0.4 mile turn left (west) at a U.S. Forest Service sign onto Whites Creek Road. Travel 0.8 mile to the Whites Creek trailhead (open at 8:30 am) on the gated, paved, and then gravel road. The parking and picnic area (restrooms) are in a Jeffrey pine forest with some mountain mahogany. Bird this area and the closed portion of the road for montane species. The road becomes a trail as it continues upslope. Another trail follows the creek and riparian habitat and later merges with the forest trail. The trail continues upslope along Whites Creek for approximately 3.0 miles. Note: The lower 2.0 miles of the trail are open to dogs and bicycles as well as hikers before it reaches the Mount Rose Wilderness boundary.
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Thomas Creek trails: From Mount Rose Highway/SR 431 turn north onto North Timberline Drive. At 0.8 mile the road becomes dirt. Two areas can be birded. (1) At 0.2 mile farther, turn left and head uphill on a rough dirt road (high-clearance vehicle recommended) to an unimproved parking area located along Thomas Creek. Bird the riparian area for approximately 1 mile. (2) Alternatively, drive 0.3 mile on the dirt road to the end of Timberline Drive to the Thomas Creek trailhead. The parking area is located to the left (restrooms). The trail to Thomas Creek goes to the left of the restrooms and continues along the creek at the north (right) end of the parking area.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Fort Churchill Road/2B is a 16-mile county road, at this time paved only for the first mile, along a particularly productive stretch of the lower Carson River. Riparian species are to be found among the cottonwoods and willow thickets on the river side of the road, raptors and high desert sage scrub species on the uphill side. During migration and in summer, birders should check the trees around the ruins of the old fort (ca. 1860) at the end of the route. Although much of the river side of the route is privately owned, public access points occur throughout the trip. Portions of Fort Churchill Road are within the Carson River Delta Nevada Important Bird Area.
BEST TIME OF YEAR: May through October
NOTABLE SPECIES: Look for soaring raptors, particularly Golden Eagle, throughout the latter half of the route. Watch for Osprey, Wood Duck, herons, egrets, and waterfowl on the river. Desert species include Black-throated, Sage, Brewer's, and Lark Sparrows as well as Loggerhead Shrike and Sage Thrasher. Western and Mountain Bluebirds, warblers, and Bullock's Oriole are both migrants and summer nesters. Rock and Canyon Wrens and White-throated Swift can be found near the cliffs and rocky outcroppings along the road.
PRECAUTIONS: Respect private property, especially along the high security area belonging to the Nevada Automotive Test Center at 9.5 miles from US 50. It is best to avoid Fort Churchill Road after heavy rains.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the I-80 & US 395 interchange, drive south on US 395 approximately 27 miles to Carson City. As you approach Carson City, bear left to stay on US 395 south for another 3 miles to Exit 39 US 50. Exit onto US 50 eastbound to Dayton/Fallon. Continue 9.6 miles to Dayton. At an additional 5.3 miles east of Main Street in Dayton, turn right (south) on Fort Churchill Road (dirt after approximately 1.0 mile paved surface).
POPULAR BIRDING ROUTE: Follow Fort Churchill Road/2B, which passes through posted private properties. There is good access to productive river areas after 5 miles. After 6 miles, access to the river is restricted, but raptor density increases. Good river access begins again at 12.7 miles. At the end of the road (16 miles), bird Fort Churchill State Historic Park (day use fee and restrooms). Proceed 0.8 mile beyond the fort to Alternate US 95. For Side Trip A, turn right (south) onto Alternate US 95. Or, to begin the return trip, turn left (north) on Alternate US 95 to Silver Springs (8 miles). Return to Reno either via Carson City (Side Trip B) by turning left (west) onto US 50 (a 64-mile trip) or via Fernley straight ahead north and then I-80 to the west (a 45-mile total trip).
OPTIONAL SIDE TRIPS:
Side Trip A Connection to Area #2 - Carson River Ranches: At Alternate US 95 turn right (south) and go 0.6 mile to Buckland Station on the left, the starting point for the Carson River Ranches vehicle and canoe routes.
Side Trip B Sixmile Canyon Road: This canyon's cottonwood-lined creek has been the site of exceptional finds during migration, including Virginia's Warbler. Sometimes spelled Six Mile, this route may become a toll road. On the return trip via US 50 to Carson City, at 18.5 miles from Alternate US 95 turn right onto Sixmile Canyon Road (directly across the highway from the beginning of Fort Churchill Road). Drive Sixmile Canyon Road 8 miles northwest to Virginia City, birding along the way. Use pullouts to bird, and remain alert to traffic. From Virginia City, return to Reno via SR 341 (north) to US 395 or to Carson City via SR 342 (south) to US 50.