OverviewRising to the east above the city of Sparks, Nevada, Canoe Hill is the highest of a series of foothills in the Pah Rah Range. There are two distinct summits, the highest a rocky-topped, pyramid-shaped hilltop that reaches an elevation of 5376 feet. The second summit is a rocky-topped mesa-shaped hilltop about 700 yards to the south, that reaches an elevation of approximately 5305 feet. These are not prominent peaks, but given their shape, they do stand out.
Despite its setting right next to a residential area, the hills are not named, and there is no official trailhead. However, there are dirt roads leading to the base of each summit block.
Views from both of these summits are very nice. One can see the Northern Sierra Nevada range to the west, the Virginia Range to the south, Tule Peak 8723’ to the north, Peavine Peak 8266’ directly west and Spanish Springs Peak 7401’ directly to the east.
Canoe Hill is best hiked in wintertime. Bugs are prevalent during other times of the year. Rattlesnakes may be present on the rocky areas during warm weather months and the mud can be a problem during spring time.
Getting ThereThe trailhead is located in northeast Sparks and is easily accessible. From Reno take I-80 east to exit 21 (Vista Blvd). Take Vista north for about 2.7 miles and merge east onto Los Altos Blvd. Follow it for about 1 mile and turn right at a round about up Belmar. Follow it up hill to the end. It ends at Earthstone Drive. There is a dirt road heading towars the hills. Park anywhere on the street.
RoutesFrom the end of the pavement, there is a dirt road heading up to the hills directly towards the pyramid-shaped highest summit. The road continues past a water tank on the right. Shortly after the water tank the road splits. You can take either the road to the right of pyramid-shaped peak or to the left of it. I recommend taking the road to the right. It takes you 100 feet below the summit, and allows for a fun, but easy, rock scramble to the top.
The second summit is easily reached by following the road back south, and then scrambling 50 feet up to its mesa-shaped summit block.
It takes a little under a mile and 490 feet of elevation gain to reach the highest summit, and to hike both summits requires about 2 ½ miles of hiking.
Red TapeAlthough the summits are on public lands, there is some private land at the base. There is a sign at the start of the dirt road that says "Private Land, No dumping". However, at a recent visit on Halloween day 2015, residents assured me that only referred to the immediate area behind the sign. The dirt road is a BLM access road used by the residents to hike and shoot and enjoy the desert. Construction has boomed in this area, but it is not anticipated that this would result in blocking access to the hills, which have a series of trails and are hiked quite frequently.
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