Standing proudly in the northeastern skyline of Reno/Sparks in northwest Nevada, Spanish Springs Peak is seen on a daily basis by up to 300 thousand people, but barely any of them have ever sat upon its lofty summit.
Not that it isn't easy to get to, or inaccessible. There are well-graded dirt roads that lead within 2 miles and 1500' of the summit. It just doesn't have the appeal of the Sierra Nevadas to the west.
However, don't let this peak fool you, it is very scenic. It is located on the western side of the Pah Rah Range; a few miles west of the main ridge of the Pah Rah's which rise above 8,000 feet.
Spanish Springs Peak can be hiked all year round. The best time to hike is probably November through April. May through October are probably too hot and too dry, and the area is just way prettier during winter and spring months. Also, rattlesnakes can be a problem starting as early as April once they come out of hibernation and sun themselves on the rocks.
Spanish Springs Peak from the Canyon Hills
The most direct way to hike to Spanish Springs Peak is from the west, near the suburb of Spanish Springs. Take I-80 to Pyramid Highway (445). Follow it for about 8 miles and take a right on Calle de la Plata. Follow it for about 1.5 miles and look for Valle Verde Drive on the right. This is a well graded dirt road and connects to a series of other dirt roads that lead to the base of Spanish Springs Peak. Any 2WD car can probably make it up this road; at least to the starting area suggested on this page.
Here are the directions from Calle de la Plata:
1) After taking a right onto Valle Verde Drive, follow for 0.2 miles
2) Take a right on Aqua Fria and follow for about one-half mile
3) Take a left on El Molino and follow for about 0.2 miles
4) Take a right on La Mancha and continue on this road as is curves to the southeast and gains elevation. La Mancha basically can be followed all the way to the base of Spanish Springs Peak. At a certain point you will pass through an area called Pyrenees Estates. There are no "estates" although it there was once an effort to develop there. Instead, the area is adorned by utility poles and transmission lines, put there after the local utility purchased the land.
Find a place to park on the way to the base. The recommended location is by the "Pyrenees Estates" sign, which is just under 4 miles and 2100' from the summit. If you wish to do a shorter hike, descend the road and follow by car towards the end of the road. This can cut the distance to almost two miles, and 1200 feet.
Looking up at Spanish Springs Peak from the "Pyrenees Estates" sign. This is a good place to park and start the hike.
If you choose the standard way, from the Pyrenees Estates sign, follow the road to the base of the peak. Once at the base, the road ends and you need to walk up the remaining slope. There is no trail, but it is a steady walk up the open slope climbing about 1200 feet in 2 miles.
Looking up towards the summit on a March day with lots of snow still on the ground
There is no red tape to speak of. Developers were interested in purchasing private land near the peak and building new residencies. However, as of March 2010, there were no signs of new development. Only the road and transmission poles. There are no signs designating private property or "no trespassing" signs on the main road, although there is a "Private Road" sign on a road heading to the north (left) from the main dirt road. This does not cause any access issues.