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 highest a rocky-topped mesa-shaped hilltop about 700 yards to the south, that reaches an elevation of approximately 5305 feet.
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 1.5 miles and turn right at Vista Heights. Follow it up to the end of the road until you reach dirt where there is space to park. Vista Heights is a community that has been building up into the hills over the last several years. Thus, the parking area may change over time. The summits themselves are on public lands.
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. Watch for signs to know where you can park. Construction has ceased in the immediate area, which will stop growth temporarily. However, the trailhead may move if development starts again.
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