The Best Snowshoeing Around Reno

By Dan Bablinskas | Monday, January 15, 2024

Sitting just below Lake Tahoe in the High Sierras, Reno has a remarkable number of snowshoeing haunts in short driving distance from town. If you enjoy rigorous hikes in the cold and beautiful winter scenery, then these are some of the best options right around Reno.

Thomas Creek

Located in South Reno off the Mt. Rose Highway, the Jones/Whites/Thomas Creek trails are part of a large network of trails at the base of the Mt. Rose Wilderness. Being only 10 minutes from the Summit Mall in South Reno, the Thomas Creek Trailhead is easily accessible and well-trafficked trail by hikers and snowshoers alike.

Parking is available on the side of Timberline Road. From there, you can walk up due west on the Upper Thomas Creek trail to begin an experience that will quickly get more wintry, tree-covered and wild the farther in you go. The trail will run along and cross back and forth over Thomas Creek, which tends to be gushing with water this time of year. Unlike Reno proper and areas to the east, this is dense wilderness mostly populated by fir and pine trees, though birch and other deciduous varieties are mixed in at lower elevations.

You can go as far as you want on snowshoe, even to the top of the Dry Pond. Depending on the amount of snow the area has received, it’s likely the trails will be too thoroughly covered for you to make it all the way up there. In any case, this is a quick way to get into the wilderness and try snowshoeing right outside of town.

Photo: The wintry view at Thomas Creek

Peavine Peak

Trees are always nice, but on winter days you’ll want to soak up as much sun as possible, and Peavine Peak is a clear, open trail on the northside of town that offers stunning panoramic views of the Truckee Meadows.

Known for accumulating lots of snow throughout winter that packs down firmly, Peavine Peak is an excellent place to make a good uphill climb without having to stray onto the curvy mountain roads of Mt. Rose Highway. Simply navigate to the Peavine Peak trailhead and work your way up along the stream toward Peavine Peak. The view is legendary, especially when the region is covered with snow.

Chickadee Ridge

If it’s a sunny day with little wind and the roads are clear, then Chickadee Ridge (also a great hiking trail) is the place to venture to. In fact, it’s such a popular place that you’ll not want to wait around too long or else there will be limited parking, especially on the weekend, given that it’s right next to some of the best sledding in the Reno-Tahoe region.

And another caveat: It can be a little tricky finding exactly where Chickadee Ridge is, but if you don’t have someone to guide you, the Google Maps trail is where you begin and the destination gives you an approximate direction to walk in. As with snowshoeing anywhere, the trails are likely to be completely submerged in feet of snow, so you’ll have to use your wits to meander through the forests and find your way to the destination.  

The great appeal of Chickadee Ridge is that while you take in views of Lake Tahoe to the west and Mt. Rose to the north, chickadees will come and eat snacks off your hands at the mountaintop, provided you bring some nuts or other snacks for them to feast on. For this reason, thousands of visitors come to Chickadee Ridge each year to experience this delightful snowshoe adventure.

Photo: Feeding chickadees while snowshoeing on Chickadee Ridge

Tips and Safety Precautions

Snowshoeing can be a lot more physically demanding than you would think, especially at high elevations. Even if you are physical fit, be prepared for a strenuous workout. Take plenty of water, snacks, a cell phone and lots of layers. Snowshoeing also takes place in the backcountry where avalanches are a possibility. Bring along a companion and be mindful of where you are walking, taking care not to step too deeply into fresh snow.

All that said, it’s definitely worth the trouble — so get out there and enjoy some snowshoeing while winter is in full swing.

Top photo by Sandra Grünewald on Unsplash

About the Author Dan Bablinskas
Dan Bablinskas is a relentlessly curious person with a passion for travel, foreign languages, affordable food and lodgings, well-fashioned cappuccinos and refreshing craft brews. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in creative writing, he traveled through Europe and South America while working as an English teacher and travel blogger. After trying a number of different careers, he settled into technical and content writing for his day job. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the Reno-Tahoe area by foot, car, bike and ski. He lives in Reno with his wife and two kids.