Davis Creek Regional Park is located in the
Eastern Sierra Region
between Carson Range's Slide Mountain and Washoe Lake. The park
includes recreational facilities including a fishing pond, picnic
tables, camping sites and a small horseshoe playground.
Two loop trails,
Nature Trail and
Discovery Trail, are inside the park.
The Ophir Creek Trail begins here and
connects with scenic places and trails at much higher elevations:
Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) and the
Mt. Rose Wilderness.
Before its opening as a public park in 1969, this area was part of
the 4,000-acre Winters Ranch, known in
the second half of the 19th century for its thoroughbred horses .
Today, this area is a
popular getaway for relaxation, nature and geology studies,
canyon and mountain hiking as well as equestrian uses . The park
landscape features sagebrush, bitterbrush, manzanitas and Jeffrey
pines thriving in these eastside Sierra Nevada
foothills—situated in the rain but not in the wind shadow
of Slide Mountain.
On a peaceful and sunny summer day, visitors may find it difficult
to believe, that the park neighborhood was the scene of a
devastating rock and soil slide at about
noon on May 30, 1983 [3,4]:
Since the unusually wet winter of 1982/83 brought a record snowpack,
a high runoff was inevitable when a sustained warm period began in
late May of that slide-year. The infiltration of water into the
subsurface eventually caused avalanches of rockfall and debris
that reached and damaged a small reservoir (Upper Price Lake),
triggering further slides and torrents streaming downward over the
alluvial fan of Ophir Creek into Washoe Valley. Geological studies
suggest that similar rock slides have happened at least nine times
in the past 50,000 years .
The short Nature Trail (0.7 mi) loops
around Davis Pond and through parking and
picnic lots (yellow line in map). It partially coincidences with
the Discovery Trail (1.7 mi), a bigger
loop, which connects with the camp ground and the foothill slopes.
Ophir Creek Trail
(about 8 miles, one way from Davis
Creek Park to TRT) is a steep trail—mostly single-track.
It has two branches in the lower section: one begins at the
wood bridge over a tiny seasonal creek south of the restroom
and the other next to the restroom (purple line starting at the
“You Are Here” arrow tip in the map).
These two sections merge after about a one-hour climb on either
of these sections. The trail continues between granodiorite rocks
and soon reaches the V-shaped gorge of Ophir Creek.
The trail follows the north rim of the steep canyon
for a while, continues through forest and manzanita shrubs and
finally leads into a field of coarse-grained sand, rocks and
boulders. At this point the trail is crossing Ophir Creek.
Depending on the season and weather conditions, water may race
or trickle downhill and over the trail, requiring some
boulder hopping to get to the other side, from where
Ophir Creek Trail continues to the Rock Lake and
Price Lake junctions and to Tahoe Meadows.
Hiking Ophir Creek Trail gives the opportunity to browse the
landscape for evidence of the catastrophic 1983 slide, in
particular, and of restless erosion processes in
general. About one hundred years earlier,
Mark Twain described the potential
occurrence of land slides in the Carson Range in his
fictionalized account Roughing It:
“The mountains are very high and steep about Carson,
Eagle and Washoe Valleys—very high and very steep, and so
when the snow gets to melting off fast in the Spring and the warm
surface-earth begins to moisten and soften, the disastrous
land-slides commence. The reader cannot know what a land-slide is,
unless he has lived in that country and seen the whole side of a
mountain taken off some fine morning and deposited down in the
valley, leaving a vast, treeless, unsightly scar upon the mountain's
front to keep the circumstances fresh in his memory all the years
he may go on living within seventy miles of that
Mark Twain, 1872 .
Now the reader knows! Note that Mike White also cited this
passage in his Reno-Tahoe hiking guide . Verbal records from
Paiute tribes and reports by white settlers indicate that slides
and floodings thread the natural history of appropiately named
Slide Mountain . An interplay of seismic activity and weather
conditions keeps the mountain on the move.
Nodding cluster of urn-shaped
belonging to a manzanita shrub
along Ophir Creek Trail, April 2012
Getting to Davis Creek Park
The park is located about half-way between Reno and Carson City.
Its entrance is located west of Highway 395. From Old US Hwy 395
turn west into Davis Creek Road, which ends inside the park.
Currently, a new section of Highway 395 between South Reno and here
is under construction. When finished, there
should be an exit to Davis Creek Park and nearby Bowers Mansion.
Nearby trails and places of interest
References and more to explore
Truckee Meadows Trails.
RGJ Custom Publishing Group,
2009, pp. 7-8.
Afoot & Afield,
Reno-Tahoe, A comprehensive hiking guide.
1st Edition August 2006, 2nd printing
2008, pp. 265-269.
Slide Mountain, Nevada 1983:
J. V. Tingley, K. A. Pizarro,
C. Ross, B. W. Purkey and L. J. Garside:
Geologic and Natural History
Tours in the Reno Area.
Nevada Bureau of Mines
and Geology Special Publication 19,
University of Nevada,
1st Edition August 2006, 2nd printing
2005, pp. 80-82.
First published in 1872
and reprinted by
Penguin Books in
Penguin Classics 1985 (see page 252).
Related pages and further information