I’ve always been interested in waterfalls in unexpected places. Nevada just seems like one of those places where you aren’t going to find many waterfalls…and I guess that’s relatively true. And yet there are a few rather scenic falls scattered throughout the state.
I’m guessing Reno’s a pretty dry place. So I was surprised to find out that there was a waterfall right near Reno. After reading some of the reviews, I was initially concerned. It sounded like this was a strenuous 5.6 mile round trip hike in unforgiving terrain. Well, that really wasn’t the case. I’ve experienced much more difficult hikes, and this probably ranks somewhere in the middle.
If you’re going to attempt this hike, two things REALLY help: sunscreen and water. It’s bizarre. The first 2/3 of the hike are out in the open sun. The final 1/3 of the hike is like entering a different, forested world. Without sunscreen, I would be in pain tonight, and yet I’m rather content. And having a significant amount of water available made this hike MUCH more enjoyable. To avoid any intense heat, start earlier in the day. It got to about 80 degrees (on May 31), and it was manageable.
At 2.8 miles or so one way, the hike does seem long. There is an up-down-up-down nature to the trail, but it’s never extremely steep. Some of the trail is composed of large stones, which might cause the most difficulty along the whole hike. But at no point are you suddenly climbing steep switchbacks. The elevation gain/loss is spread out over the trail.
Once you get to the final 1/3, enjoy the shaded, wonderful-scented scenery. It is a truly different feeling. At the end of May, wildflowers litter the whole trail from beginning to end. And at the end of the trail is Hunter Creek Falls! Now, it’s taller than it appears in some photos (about 30 feet or so), though its not huge. It’s still worthwhile in the end!
1) Caughlin Parkway can be accessed from South McCarran Boulevard at two different locations. I entered at the southern “entrance.”
2) Continue along Caughlin Parkway to Plateau Road. (If you entered Caughlin from the southern portion, Plateau Road will be on your left.)
3) Continue along Plateau Road to Woodchuck Circle on your left.
4) Continue along Woodchuck Circle until you reach the end of the road. (It appears there is a continuation of the road under construction, but that was closed off, so you really only have one option.) There will be a sign for the “Michael D. Thompson Trailhead”, and you will be in the right place.
5) Put on your sunscreen, grab your water/hat/camera, and start hiking. If in doubt, just stay in sight/listening distance of the creek.
Accessibility: 3/10 (by no means the worst ever, just long)
Where in the World is Hunter Creek Falls?: map