National Forest Trail Would Connect Reno, Tahoe

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - The Forest Service has released a plan to increase access to the wilderness between Reno and Lake Tahoe.

The proposal called the "Rim to Reno Trail" explores two possible routes to connect southwest Reno to the Tahoe Rim trail that circles the lake.

"This should provide some access and some additional hiking opportunities for people," said Ed Monnig, supervisor of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

"There seems to be some interest in having a connection between the Reno area and the Tahoe Rim Trail. We would like to accommodate that demand," he said.

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association secured a grant to help pay for the $200,000 environmental assessment for the trail.

"We're real excited about it," said Mark Kimbrough, theassociation's executive director. "This puts some connection in what we've been chasing for years."

"This gives people from Reno a chance for a new trail experience. This is an opportunity to get up to the edge of the wilderness and into the wilderness right out their back door."

The original plan called for construction of a 17-mile trail stretching southward from Hunter Creek. It would pass through the high country of the Mount Rose Wilderness, connecting with the Mount Rose Summit Trail and ultimately the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Subsequent discussions resulted in a new proposal Forest Service
planners call their favored option. It would involve construction of a 19-mile trail system beginning at a trailhead at the Ballardini Ranch, stretching through Thomas Creek Canyon and connecting with the summit trail at the same spot as the original proposal.

It could be open within five years.

"It would be fantastic," said Wayne Hardwick, 64, Reno. "I know I'd use it. That would be really fun."

Hardwick said he's often looked toward the mountains west of Thomas Creek, considering entering the area by "bushwhacking" cross-country.

The plan also envisions construction of 10-mile loop trail in the Belli Ranch area west of Reno, an area that could be used year-round, said Marnie Bonesteel, a recreation officer for the Carson Ranger District.

"A lot of people are wanting to take out their bike and their dog and their family. It's a pretty neat area," Bonesteel said. "We wanted to give something for everybody."

The original route out of Hunter Creek would cross through much of the Mount Rose Wilderness at high altitude, raising potential issues, Monnig said.

"That's always a big issue on an urban interface, when there's potentially a lot of use in an area where we're trying to maintain primitive conditions," Monnig said.

Whatever route is selected, expanded hiking opportunities would be welcomed by many.

"I think the more trails the better," said Lindy Welk of Truckee, who was hiking Mount Rose with her family one afternoon last week. "That's what this area is all about. It's beautiful."

Duane Phillips of Nevada City, Calif., agreed.

"The more access you have to serve the public the better," said Phillips, 55, after climbing Mount Rose. "It's a positive use of taxpayer money as far as I'm concerned."