Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
850.00 ft (259.08 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.10 mi (6.60 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Hunter Lake Loop is somewhat of a misnomer as it doesn't actually reach Hunter Lake, but traces Hunter Lake Road for a portion. The trail leaves the city in the Caughlin Ranch area and soon enters National Forest backcountry, running a wide variety of landscapes in the relatively short loop path.

Beginning at the entrance to the National Forest land, hikers can leave their cars parked along the road and begin walking south, following under the power lines. The trailhead is a popular entrance for vehicles to access the backcountry, and homes line the distance on one side while the the vegetation remains charred and bare from a recent fire. While it doesn't start out with the elements of an appealing hike, the trail soon winds its way up a hill, which reveals the first wide views of the city.

From here the path cuts west up a hill and this is where the urban city begins to fade away and you really begin to feel the Sierra Nevada.

In terms of Reno area hiking trails, there may not be any other that ties all the elements of the city together better than this one. Over the course of 4 miles, hikers will pass the gritty outskirts of the city and new housing developments, abandoned cars riddled with bullet holes, panoramic views that stretch from Peavine Mountain all the way to South Reno, mountainous pine forests that really feel like being deep in the Lake Tahoe basin, trace jeep roads and single track trails, will often hear the sounds of target shooters who head up to these hills frequently, and may eventually pass cars of kids who hang out at the viewpoints near the trailhead late into the evenings.

Backcountry camp sites sit throughout the route, and the interior areas often have ice well into the spring. 

Eventually, the trail winds back around, reaching the more heavily used jeep roads and descending back toward the trailhead from the west.

If you can tolerate the heavy signs of use for a while, this trail gets you back to an interior that feels like the mountains, and offers plenty of vista points that feel far removed from the city. While most of it is climbing and dropping, none of the slopes are very steep and those with moderate ability levels should handle it fine.

There are many roads heading into the interior which wind in just about every direction. Those looking to follow this route should definitely have some navigation aids on them to make sure they keep with the path.

While the trail can be walked in either direction, heading out in a clockwise direction saves the best views for last.

There are no amenities of any kind anywhere at the trailhead or along the hike. Portions of the trail can remain muddy and sludgy for lengthy periods of time following wet conditions.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

City views. Landscape variety.

Cons

Heavy signs of use. Dog waste and litter along trail.

Trailhead Elevation

5,285.00 ft (1,610.87 m)

Highest point

5,880.00 ft (1,792.22 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Motorized vehicles

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California

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