The Road to Nowhere Mountain, is a mountain in Washoe County, just east of Reno. Visible daily from the Reno skyline, it sits due south of the colorful orange hills and has a prominence of about 850'.
The mountain is known for a road that curves around it, seemingly coming out of nowhere. The road actually can be accessed via a very strong 4WD, albeit from private land that is off limits, or from the east side, via a long drive on dirt roads, through to Canyon Road (not recommended given the very easy access from Reno city limits). The road on the mountain dead ends at random spots, including one spot heading north, and one spot heading west.
The name "Road to Nowhere" is a local one, and there is no official USGS name.
There are three primary routes to the summit. Each route involves at least two miles of one way distance to the summit and 1500'+ elevation gain. Two of the routes start in Hidden Valley Regional Park, and require meandering trails over colorful hills.
It is recommended that you hike here in late fall or winter. Insects, animals, and rattlesnakes are prevalent on the slopes most of the year and the mud is unbearable at certain times of the year. The views from the summit are excellent, with the colorful hills to the north, the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west and southwest, the Pah Rah Range to the northeast, the rest of the Virginia Range to the southeast, Peavine Peak to the northwest, and the city of Reno 1600' below.
Getting ThereRoad to Nowhere Mountain is located in the Western edge of the Virginia Range, that rises over Reno in the Eastern skyline. There are two trailheads; one on the northwest side, and one on the southwest side. Getting to either is easy and quick from anywhere in Reno.
From McCarren Blvd, turn left on Alexander Lake Road, which is just in front of Rattlesnake Mountain. Take Alexander Lake Road as it winds around hilly terrain. It ends at a dirt road. Take a left up the hill and park anywhere to start the hike.
From McCarren Blvd, turn left on Pembroke Lane, heading towards the mountain. Take Pembroke for 1.8 miles until you see Parkway Drive. Take a right on Parkway Drive which enters Hidden Valley Regional Park in less than half a mile. You can park in the main parking lot (paved), or go left and find a parking spot up closer to the start of the trail. From here, take either of the two routes described below.
From McCarren Blvd, turn right on Mira Loma and follow the road as it winds around to Hidden Valley Drive. Take a right and follow as it winds around. Shortly after the road turns back to the left (north), take a right on Mia Vista Drive, and head to the parking area inside Hidden Valley Regional Park.
Route findingRoute from Trailhead #1
From the trailhead, take the hill to the left, or follow the “road to nowhere” to the right and head up to the first ridge. There is a slight use trail that winds up and around an obvious false summit, which tops out at 5,295 feet. At the top of this false summit, you reach a ridge below the true summit. From the ridge, the true summit rises steeply (over 700'). A 4WD road sits below this steep rise. You take the road to the right and find a way up. The steeper grades are all walkable, but there is a gully less than 1/4 mile down the road from the steepest, that is pretty standard. The gully heads up about 375 feet to the final summit ridge. Once you reached the final ridge, it is an easy 1/2 mile walk up to the summit, with about 290' of gain left.
You can descend the same way you came, or you can possibly take the side 4WD road that leads down to a canyon, by heading down the south ridge. You can take the canyon back down to the trailhead. Depending on which way you take, the shortest is about 4 miles round trip, and the longest about 4.75 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 1500 feet either way.
Route from Trailhead #2
This route starts by heading up one of the two hills described below.
Head up the the hill at it steeply heads up into the hills.
Once you reach near the top of the hill you will see an obvious trail. The trail turns into a jeep road. Follow this south towards Peak 6075. You will follow the jeep road around for less than half a mile until you see a wide side trail heading right to the summit ridge. You take this trail up and over a couple hills until you descend a little bit and the trail ends. From here you are 20 minutes from the summit. You go up and down three hills as you make your way up to the summit. Once you get up to the third hill, you will see the summit ahead. The true summit is obvious from this point. The whole hike round trip is about 4 1/2 miles. The elevation gain is about 2,000 feet due to the ups and downs on the summit ridge.
You can either head to the left of this hill up a gully, or you can head straight up the hill. In both cases, the trail only goes for about half a mile until you have to find your own way up, which will be very steep no matter the route you choose. Once you reach near the top of the hill you will see an obvious trail. The trail turns into a jeep road. You take the jeep road for a few hundred yards until you see a wide side trail heading right to the summit ridge. From here, take the same route as described for Hill 1.
Route from Trailhead #3
Head slightly left and up the hill (northeast from the parking area) and find a trail heading up the slope. Follow this steeply until you reach a trail higher up. That trail will be on the right atop a plateau. It is hard to follow at spots, but gets more obvious higher up. The trail then winds to the right (south) and hugs the mountain side, eventually winding around the back side of some prominent points north of the Peak 6075 plateau. A use trail heads up these hills to the back side of Peak 6075. There is no trail then, but the summit rock pile is obvious from this point. This route is pretty short and straightforward. The final stretch up the back side is the same as Route #2. If you lose the trail early on, the trick is to look for plateaus, and pick the obvious route to the top. The higher up you are, the more obvious the route. If not hopelessly lost, it is about 2 miles and 1500' of elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit.
Red TapeFor Route #1 - There is private land in certain areas near the parking area. The landowners seem to change hands periodically, and access changes slightly each time I go there. The recommendation is to heed all signs, and make sure to walk around fences with hard metal wire. Some of the fences in the area appear to keep wild horses in their habitat, although it doesn't work too well, since they are everywhere anywhere. Overall, access isn't a problem, and the last time I visited, there were no signs saying "keep out" or "no trespassing".
For Routes #2 and #3 - Hidden Valley Regional Park closes at 5pm during the winter.