Sitting on the eastern edge of the Mount Rose Wilderness, Cross Peak rises just over the hillside neighborhoods of western Reno. If looking towards the Mount Rose Wilderness from Reno, Cross Peak fails to stand out. However, once you get close to it, it makes an instant impression. That is because of its steep rise and its rocky summit. Cross Peak rises like a thumb, sticking 400 feet up from its surrounding terrain. This sets it apart from the larger and more gradually sloping hills surrounding it.
Cross Peak didn't use to be so close to the community. Urban development encroached further up the hills until it finally ceased before it crossed over the peak.
Because of its accessibility, Cross Peak is an excellent after work hike. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the summit; even less if you run to the base. The last quarter mile is very steep, and works the calf muscles and lungs. Views from the summit are quite expansive, with the whole city of Reno in view.
From 395 take McCarran Blvd west loop to the south entrance of Caughlin Parkway at the crest of the hill. Take a left on Caughlin Parkway and follow north as it winds around the hills. After about 1½ miles find Sawbuck on the right. Take a right on Sawbuck downhill and turn left on Bitteroot. Park at Bitteroot.
About 100 yards down Bitteroot on the right is the entrance to the Steamboat Ditch Trail. This is where you start the hike. If heading from I-80 go south on McCarran Blvd west loop to the north entrance of Caughlin Parkway. Follow the road as it winds southward. After about 1 1/4 miles you will find Bitteroot on the left. Follow it for less than 1/2 mile where you will see the trail.
Make sure to take the open trail on the side of the road, not the trail that goes back down into the woods the other direction. Take the trail, and in a couple minutes it reaches a paved trail. Head right (south) on the paved trail where you will go under a tunnel. After the tunnel follow the paved path as it heads towards Cross Peak. About a hundred-fifty yards past the tunnel there is a dirt road on your right. Take the dirt road as it winds around a hill. The dirt road descends and then ascends back towards the base of Cross Peak. Once at the base, a use trail takes you just over a quarter mile to the summit, gaining about 390 feet. This is the north side of the mountain.
From the trailhead, the total hiking distance to the summit is about 1 mile, and the elevation gain is 600 feet.
There is an alternative to hike Cross Peak requiring about the same hiking distance and elevation gain. Start at the same trailhead, but instead of taking the dirt road, continue on the paved trail to its terminus. Once at the end of the paved trail, continue on a dirt trail through the woods. After about 1/4 mile you reach a dirt road. The dirt road heads either southeast towards the neighborhoods or north back up to the hills. Head back north up the dirt road to the base of Cross Peak. From here, you can hike the eastern side of the mountain.
Certainly, Cross Peak is just a short, easy hike. However, there are options in this area for a longer hike. For example, on the main route, before the dirt road descends on the way to Cross Peak, an offshoot of the road ascends a hill back north under some transmission lines. There is any number of ways to hike the steep slope above, which eventually crests at an elevation just under 6700 feet. To reach this crest, requires about 2.5 miles of hiking distance and an elevation gain of just over 1800 feet.
There is a "No Trespassing" sign on the fence in front of the dirt road listed above as the main route to Cross Peak. I believe this only applies to the house with a locked gate just behind the road. The road itself should be open to the public and is marked further up as such. Just avoid the house, and if somebody actually gives you trouble, just explain that the sign appears to be related to the house and not the dirt road that clearly was built for hikers, dog walkers, mountain bikers, and trail runners. If you are really worried, just use the alternate route where there are no such signs.