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.