Snow Valley Peak • Highpoint: Carson City
• Carson Mountains

Snow Valley Peak as seen
from the approach roads

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Date: August 10, 2000 • Elevation: 9,214 feet • Prominence: 1,254 feet • Distance: 10 miles (7 via bicycle) • Time: 3 hours • Gain: 2,160 feet • Conditions: Marvelous

Snow Valley Peak is the highest point of Carson City, which is not part of any county. More accurately, it was part of old Ormsby County, but the county was so small and it encompassed just Carson City, so in 1969, all governance was transferred to the city, and Ormsby County was simply declared to no longer exist.

Yesterday, I had hiked two peaks, Mount Jefferson in Nye County, then Mount Davidson in Storey County, above old Virginia City. I stayed at a cheap hotel in Carson City. As I drove into the city, I saw not one, not two, but about thirty gorgeous young women walking in a group along the main street in the city. There was a beauty pageant going on, I later found out.

One other thing about Carson City: my grandfather lived here during the last dozen years of his life. I did not know him well, as he had been estranged from our family since before I was born. But I would see him about once every five years. I last saw him in early 1993 when we flew up to visit him. It turned out to be wise as he passed away later that year. So there's a small amount of personal attachment to the area. He was an interesting character, always running off to chase some new money-making scheme, or write a song, or tell jokes at the VFWs, and so on. He was a master mason, but also liked the booze a little too much. I wish I had known him better.

Anyway, I got up early and drove to the Spooner Lake Recreation Area, in the mountains west of the city and lining Lake Tahoe. There were lots of cars already here and a number of horse trailers. The one-way distance to the summit is five miles, with four of those miles along a gravel road. Knowing that, I had brought along my mountain bike.

I got my stuff together and hopped onto the bike. I pedaled northbound on the road, getting off to walk the rougher parts or when the road became too steep. The first three miles was mostly flat, gaining just 600 feet in that span. I was able to ride the bike most of the way. The last mile of road was steeper, and I walked the bike for this segment. I had gained a total of 1,100 feet since starting.

I left the main road and starting walking up a side road, stashing my bike in bushes out of sight. There had been a steady stream of hikers, bikers and horse-riders on the road, but on this side road, it was just me. Most people stayed straight on the main road to Marlette Lake. I gained about another thousand feet to top out on the ridge containing the summit.

I followed the Tahoe Rim Trail south, but realized it only bypasses the top, so I left it and made my way up the open slopes to the summit area. I visited any bump that looked promising and enjoyed the lovely views of Lake Tahoe, now visible behind the foreground hills. It was breezy but pleasant, and I spent awhile enjoying the top and the views. It had taken me a little over two hours to get here.

I then descended back to where I had stashed my bike. The four-mile ride back to my truck took just twenty minutes, as I coasted nearly the whole way back. It was still mid-morning when I arrived to the trailhead, and the bicycle had paid dividends, shaving off a couple hours of hiking.

My next objective, East Peak in Douglas County, was just a few minutes' drive south of Spooner Lake. I arrived there about noonish, traffic being my only hindrance, and had a fun second hike for the day on East Peak.

(c) 2000, 2016 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.