The McCarran Ranch Preserve River Trail was opened to the public in 2012, allowing hikers, cyclists, and fisherman to explore sections of the lower Truckee River that have benefited from recent river and wetlands restoration efforts by the The Nature Conservancy.
Beginning around 2003, The Nature Conservancy took over management of the former ranch land that had seen the straightening of the river channel in flood control efforts along with the encroachment of the Reno Tahoe Industrial Park. In that time, this stretch of Truckee River has seen the construction and reintroduction of riffles, pools, and river meandering that has lead to a growth in wetlands habitat and feeding environments for fish and birds.
The trail itself begins at the end of an unassuming dirt road near the sparsely developed Patrick exit of I-80. The trailhead is marked only by an informational sign and boxes for angler's surveys and a Nature Conservancy donation box. From here the trail traces the edge of the Truckee, traversing between an area cleared for possible development at the boundary line, wetlands, and rolling sage-covered terrain. Along the path more informational signs and a couple of watershed art installations make appearances.
At around 2 miles into the hike a bridge spans the river, across from which it is possible to continue further west to the westernmost Mustang Ranch Trailhead or east along a gravel road to the Nature Conservancy Amphitheater, where more trails along the riverfront can be found, along with a portable toilet.
This trail allows the hikers to see an area of the Truckee River where restoration is being actively managed by The Nature Conservancy, and as such, there are several rules that The Nature Conservancy asks hikers to follow. This, along with more information about the project, can be found on The Nature Conservancy's website.
The trail and amphitheater area are open daily from dawn to dusk. There is no water at the trailhead, and there are stretches with no shade. Access is free, though please consider making a donation to The Nature Conservancy in the donation box at the trailhead.