OverviewWelcome to the City of Rocks!
Point 7015 and Point 7016 are two summits in southern Washoe County, Nevada on the eastern edge of the Lake Tahoe Basin. They are foothills of the Carson Range separated from the main ridge that rises above Lake Tahoe by a small valley aptly named “Little Valley”.
The area is adorned with boulders and rocky topped summits. Part of the reason for this stems from past rock slides at Slide Mountain 9698' about 5 miles to the north, depositing boulders on the hills below. Forest Service roads cut through the area, although direct access is tricky from any direction and avoiding private land traps requires some careful route-finding. Presently, the only legal way is via the southeast, and even that has some uncertainty.
There are multiple rocky viewpoints from both of these summits, where there are great close up views of the higher mountains on the east side of Lake Tahoe. These mountains rise up less than a mile away, just across the valley.
Both summits can be hiked within a few hours; Hiking in this area is best done in fall due to the fall colors, and because the area has had a chance to dry out over the summer.
Getting ThereThe access road to Forest Service land is off Franktown Road in the Washoe Valley. To get there from Reno, take 395 South and take the exit to Davis Creek Park, which heads south onto Bowers Mansion Road (429). Head south for 2.8 miles and then turn right on Franktown Road (877). There are essentially two access roads. The direct one is on the right about 1.3 miles south on 877. It is very hard to spot. It is about ¼ mile south of J S Bar Ranch Road, which is also on the right.
Although this is Little Valley Road, which becomes NF Road 042, it is blocked to automobiles, and apparently to hikers. While clearly automobiles cannot access the road, the legality isn't clear for hikers since this connects to a National Forest Road, so use your own judgement.
Primary legal access to these summits is from Big Canyon Road, 2.8 miles south on 877. Big Canyon Road splits off to Aspen Creek Road and reaches NF Road 041 in about 3/4 miles up from 877. It is best to take exit 44 or exit 46 off of Interstate 580 and then go to the south entrance of Franktown Road.
There is plenty of red tape. Big Canyon Road/Aspen Creek Road access has a few items to be aware of. The road off of Franktown Road is listed as a "Private Drive" but that was placed there by the landowners to deter people from coming on their land. Don't be fooled. There is a dirt parking area at the base of the Forest Service roads with no signs telling you that you cannot park there. There is legal access. The problem is that about 0.8 miles up there is a gate that shows No Trespassing and it continues for almost 1/2 mile. This is almost certainly illegal for the landowner because they have used gates to block a Forest Service access road that firefighters would use. There are no houses or any property of value on the roads. They are blocked because the landowner decided they can block it and the Forest Service has not forced them to remove the illegal gates. While a lot of people trespass, my description below describes how to avoid it. If the landowner is out, they might act like cowboys and wave guns around.
For Little Valley Road, the first part of the access road that becomes the Forest Service road is private and blocked off, and further up the road is owned by the University of Nevada (UNR) before the road enters National Forest. The road is used by UNR's biology department for some equipment they have up there. You may inquire with the UNR Biology Department for access. The entrance to the road says “No Trespassing”. When we hiked the road, we were told by a representative of the University of Nevada (who drove by us on the way up) that although the road is closed to motor vehicles, hikers are okay. He entered the same way we did, meaning he opened the barrier fence. Ultimately however the road is blocked and there is nowhere to park nearby the access road, because the locals in this area don’t like visitors (see photo above). So, parking along the road can get you towed. Thus, it is wiser to park 2 miles away at Wilson Commons Park (best found on Google maps™), and possibly bike two miles to the access road. The area is worthy of exploration due to the road system and the fact that you can actually access the east slope of some of the higher peaks of the Carson Range east of Tahoe rather easily. Also, because so few people come to this area, there is virtually no chance of losing your bike if you stash it on the side of the Forest Service road.
Interesting that in the photo above, the land owners say that the nearest public access is Spooner Summit off US 50. Spooner Summit is many miles south. In fact is that there are two access points north of Carson City (Big Canyon and Hobart) that are just 2-3 miles south as the crow flies, and multiple access points from within Carson City that are also north of Spooner Summit. This note gives you an idea of the way landowners in the area view visitors, even those of us that wish to legally access the mountains!
Route InformationBig Canyon NF Road 041
If starting from NF Road 041 via Big Canyon, you approach Point 7016 first. Take the wide forest road as it heads up into the hills. When I was there on November 23, 2014 and October 10, 2015 there was a "road closed" sign after about 1/2 mile at a hairpin turn by a lookout. The locked gate is another 0.3 miles up. Private land with "No Trespassing" signs continue for another half a mile.
There is a way to avoid this.
At the lookout point 1/2 mile up the road, there is a road that cuts down and crosses a creek. You hike steeply up to another road on the other side of the creek. This takes you towards the end of the first locked gate. But if you reach the main road again, there is eventually another locked gate with threatening signs. So, to avoid this, just before you reach the main road, bushwhack up the road to a road heading off the main road. This road is just at the base of Point 6826. If you have a GPS, aim for 39.231, -119.8613. Bushwhack 440' to Point 6826. Descend back to the main road and then hike up the steep slope to Point 7016. The true summit is one of either three Class 4 blocks. If you are 6' 6" you can just touch the summit. If shorter, have someone support your feet and help you reach the true summit. The summit is reached in a little over 2 miles. Descend the north side of Point 7016 and you can ascend Point 7015. Return back down the road passing below Point 7016 again and back to the car up and over Point 6826. The round trip hike is about 5 1/2 miles total, with a total gain of about 2,200'.
Direct access via Little Valley Road
Little Valley Road starts at about 5180’. Head up the road, which becomes Little Valley Road, a Forest Service Road. There are several steep sections along the approach. Views are excellent. After about 2 1/2 miles up the road, it crests, and starts to descend. Before the descent, head through the woods to the left and scramble up the back side of Point 7015. It is pretty steep, with class 2 scrambling.
Once atop 7015, head towards the left edge, and Point 7016 directly in front of you. Descend about 300’. There are open spots to avoid most of the brush, but you will encounter it. Long pants are recommended for this reason. Head towards a road, which sits at the base of Point 7016. Head up the slope up to the ridge. There are a few summits over 7,000 feet on the ridge, all of which are composed of large boulders. However, the true highpoint is on the southernmost edge of the ridge.
On the way down, descend back to the road heading east. It is a better option than the way you came up, because there is a very quick and clear open woods approach the road, with only a short walk through brush. Head back down the road. Cross over to the back side of Point 7015, and go back the way you came.
Heading down the road towards the south side of Point 7015 (seen to the right). Carson Range to the west
You gain about 1835’ to Point 7015 in about 2 1/2 miles. Total elevation gain is over 2200’. Depending on the route taken, it can be even greater. The route I am explaining is the most straightforward. The total round trip via the most straightforward routes is approximately 7 miles from the start of Little Valley Road.