Mount Rose Trail
The Mount Rose Trailhead, located at the summit of the Mount Rose Highway (State Route 431) is the most spectacular, and therefore busiest trailhead into the Wilderness. The parking at the trailhead is usually adequate and features an information kiosk and restroom. Hiker use of this trail can be heavy. On any given summer weekend, you will find yourself sharing the summit of Mount Rose with 20-40 other people. The Mount Rose Trail offers multiple opportunities for day hikes ranging from easy to moderately difficult. The trailheads starts at an 8,900-foot elevation, making even the shortest hike challenging for people who are out-of-shape, and/or who are no acclimated to high altitude hiking. The first part of the trail joins the Tahoe Rim Trial and climbs quickly up 100 feet in the length of a football field. If you hit this hard and fast, you will be reminded that you are hiking at high altitude. Soon the trail grade lessens and the trail wanders along the side of sandy ridge cloaked in small clusters of manzanita and lodgepole pines. Spectacular views of the Tahoe Basin present themselves continuously along the first ½ mile of the trail. At this point the trail descends about 100 feet and crosses saddle into the forests of upper Tamarck Basin. Another .6 mile brings the trail to a rocky saddle above Galena Creek with stunning views of the full majesty of Mount Rose Summit towering above. For the next mile, the drops about 150 feet of elevation as it descends toward the head of Galena Canyon. At a little less than 2 ½ miles from the trailhead, a wide meadow opens to the north and you find yourself standing at the foot of Galena Falls.
At this point you have several options. The Tahoe Rim Trail continues to the south west up and over the waterfall. Following the Tahoe Rim Trail will bring you the Relay Station road in about ½ mile. From here you can follow the easy-hiking road back around to the trailhead, which is another 2.8 miles. Making this total loop almost 6 miles. Returning from falls on the same trail you came in on is the quickest option with a round-trip distance of 5 miles. The third option is to push on the summit of Mount Rose the 1,800 feet above.
The summit trail leaves the waterfall and continues north, skirting around a meadow then plunges through the brush of a higher, drier meadow. Soon the trail begins to climb in earnest. At another 1 ¼ miles, the trail has climbed 700 feet and enters a pleasant saddle dotted with island-stands of lodgepole pines. From this saddle, the adventurous can follow a lightly used trail to the northwest into the Bronco Creek area in the heart of the Wilderness. Or you can cinch-up your pack and start the final climb to the summit of Mount Rose. Only 1,100 feet above and the last 1 ¼ mile of the trail. Unless you are in the best of shape and accustomed to hiking a t high altitudes, expect to feel the impact of climbing at nearly 11,000 feet. Slow down and breathe. The views from the summit are outstanding. Most days Mount Lassen is clearly visible from the summit. On the clearest days you can find Mount Shasta on the northern horizon, and if you know your Nevada Mountain Ranges, you can find Arc Dome along the Eastern horizon.
Make sure you have allowed enough time for the return hike, it is slightly over 7 ½ miles making this a 15-mile day. Always carry a headlamp for this hike and enough warm clothes to make the often icy wind of the summit comfortable.
Rose Knob Trail
The access to the rugged peaks and canyons of the southern portion of the Wilderness is apportion of the Tahoe Rim Trail informally known as the Rose Knob Trail. This high trail provides access to Mount Baldy, Rose Knob, Rose Knob Peak, Relay Peak, and West Fork of Gray Creek. The Tahoe Rim Trail for this area can be accessed from the trailhead in Martis Peak area in California and from the Mount Rose Trailhead at the Summit of Highway 431 (see the description of the Mount Rose Trail for more details). There is also an access trail to this portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail that starts in the Third Creek Area in Incline Village.
Jones Creek/Whites Creek Loop
Trailhead accessible in Galena Creek County Park. This 9.5 mile trail presents multiple opportunities for exploring the Mount Rose Wilderness. The quickest access is to follow the trail from the parking lot, through the Ponderosa and manzanita foothills to the Jones Creek fork of the loop. Within a short ¾-mile hike, the trial enters the wilderness. The White Creek fork of the trail keeps hikers steadily climbing the through the dry forested foothills before gently dropping into Whites Creek canyon about 2 miles beyond the trail junction. Both directions offer hikers unique opportunities for getting to know Reno’s neighboring Wilderness.
The high point of this loop lies nearly 200 feet above the parking lot on a broad saddle separating the Jones and White Creeks drainages. Atop this ridge is a short side trial that leads to Church’s Pond. This 1/2 mile trail climbs another 200 feet before dropping through an aspen grove and into beautiful grassy basin. In years of adequate precipitation, the shallow Church’s pond fills the center of this basin offering a convenient venue for four-footed hiking companions to cool off. In dry years, the pond vanishes, leaving behind cracked mud and struggling forbs. From Church’s pond, magnificent vistas of the Mount Rose upper basin unfold to the southwest, revealing tantalizing glimpses of the summit of Mount Rose 2,500 feet above.
Thomas Creek Trail
Trailhead is accessible via Timberline road. This trail starts low, at 6,000 feet and follows an access road for private property for the first 2 ¼ miles. From here the trial follows an old road and, which soon transforms into a trail and enters the Wilderness in another mile. The trail provides access to a little used portion of the Wilderness. Although there are no direct trails, more adventurous, off trail exploration in this area can lead hikers to Snowflower Mountain (10,170 feet) and Alpine Walk Peak (9,038 feet). The Thomas Creek Trail is locally known as the best place in the Reno area to wander through the splendid landscape of aspen-gold in the autumn. Hunter Creek Trail- The developed trailhead on Woodchuck Circle in western Reno features parking, toilets, and drinking water. Following an old dirt road, a hiker will find the Hunter Creek trail in less than a 1/3 of a mile. Another 100 yards on the trail will bring you to Mount Rose Wilderness boundary.
This trail features a 7-mile round trip hike and a total elevation gain of about 1,500 feet. The first 1.7 miles of the trail features the rugged lower canyon of Hunter Creek where towering rock formation define the canyon walls. Hunter Creek itself flows year-around and, from the trail, hikers can catch glimpses of numerous beaver dams and perhaps have the opportunities to see these industrious animals in action. At about mile 2, the trail crosses over a magnificent rock outcrop, which offers a pleasant respite under a canopy of ponderosa pines. The remaining 1.5 miles of the trail descends back down into the canyon and enters a forest of fir trees. Here the character of the hike changes dramatically as the trial winds through this dense forest alongside the creek. At mile 3.5 the trail crosses the creek and, behold, you have arrived at Hunter Creek Falls. The fallen logs at the base of the falls provide a pleasant seating area to contemplate the beauty of the wilderness and breathe in the ion-charged mist from the falls.