Biggest Little Training Mountain
If you find yourself in Reno and are looking for a good workout hike with great views of the area, Peavine is your ticket. The mountain is visible from just about everywhere in the city, topping out at just over 8200'. Its south-facing slopes are nearly devoid of trees, save for in a few spotty groves, so bring plenty of sun protection. This mountain is also notoriously windy, so pay attention to the weather forecast on the day of your hike. As you'll see when you start up, there are a number of routes that you can take to the top of Peavine. This one is just one option, though it is among the more direct routes from Reno.
One more thing to be aware of: this is a popular OHV area, so there is a decent chance you'll share your hike to the top with someone on something motorized. Other parts of the mountain are popular with mountain bikers, though you may run into one or two. This particular route highlighted here uses primarily two-track dirt roads and some single track, and is big on views.
A number of locals have told me that it's always best to wait until the snows are clear on Peavine before planting your garden for the year. No promises on how effective a gardening technique that is, but is an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
I have done a number of variations of this hike during my time here in Reno, and this semi-loop route is probably the one I would recommend the most to get the best views of the area.
From the trailhead near 5400', look up the drainage (Peavine's summit is not visible yet), and you'll see a dirt road rising steeply off to your left (west) up to the ridgeline. Don't worry, it's as steep as it looks. Head that way, gaining over 450' in 0.4 miles to kick-start your hike. Once atop this, you get a chance to catch your breath, as the two-track rolls up and down over a few hills. Keep following this rolling ridgetop road, before dropping 40' steeply to a small saddle. Now climb this next steep section (which may be loose in dry conditions), topping out near an old windswept pine at just over 6300' at 1 mile into your hike. Again, you get a short reprieve after this, as you drop to a small saddle with a pocket of pine trees and some old mine remnants. After this, the route pitches up again, reaching a small pleateau at 6700'. Continue north on a rare flat section before a relatively gentle climb up the next section of ridge, which brings you to an a nice perch at just over 7100'. Everything to this point has followed two-track roads. The remainder of the hike is now plainly visible in front of you. You will see both of Peavine's summits and the radio towers that adorn them: take heart, the closer one to you is the higher one.
Drop down into an area that is criss-crossed with roads. There is a decent chance you will see people here. This is a popular area for OHV staging and target shooting, so keep alert through here. You will then cross the main Peavine Summit road, used by mountain bikers, trail runners, and vehicle-based summit seekers that leaves from Peavine's eastern edge. Follow this to the west for less than a tenth of a mile, before turning right on a dirt road at about 7150' that will follow the steeply-pitched ridgetop heading for the summit area. Follow this two-track road along the ridgeline up to a small saddle around 7600', where the road briefly moves to the north side of the ridge. If there has been snow in the area, this area will hold it longer than anywhere you've hiked yet, so be aware of that before this stretch. If it's dry, you'll move up this steep, rocky pitch and back onto the main ridgeline near 7900'. Almost there! Hike over a false summit, drop to a small saddle, and then head up the last bit and take in the view. There are plenty of buildings and towers up here, but the views in all directions of all the surrounding mountains, the Truckee Meadows, and the Great Basin are fantastic.
Return the way you came to the main Peavine road. After crossing that, the descent variation posted takes you down a parallel ridge on the east side of the drainage, where you can review your ascent route to the west as you hike down. This descent route drops to a small basin near 6500', then into the drainage. This drainage contains a single-track trail that you can follow all the way back to the trailhead. During spring, there is usually plenty of water flowing in the creek and you can enjoy some riparian vegetation as a scenery change from the sage and grass-covered slopes. This route is a bit gentler than the ascent route described above, and is an equally good option for climbing Peavine if you want to avoid the steeper two-track ridgetop route.
There is water in the creek in the drainage between the trailhead and the basin at 6500'. There is no running water on the upper mountain, so be sure to bring water with you.
Check out the Official Route.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.