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Five Marvelous Hikes for Nature Viewing/Photography in Nevada

1. Hunter Creek Trail. Located in the Mt. Rose Wilderness of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, just south of Reno, in northwest Nevada, this moderate trail is open year-round, but best hiked in fall or spring, or summer evenings when it is cooler as there is not much shade on the majority of the trail. Find the beginning of the trail at the Michael D. Thompson Trailhead off of Woodchuck Circle, which includes lots of parking and working restrooms in non-winter months. Length: 5.6 miles (RT). Besides the beautiful waterfalls (which flow all year and are framed by rocky banks and forested hillsides) at the end of the trail, you mostly follow the creek the whole way, listening to the sound of the running water. You'll know you are getting close to the falls when you finally encounter shade and a fir-pine forest. Nearby trails include: Tom Cook Trail (3.9-mile loop), Hunter Lake Trail (13.7-mile RT), Hole in the Wall Trail (5.3-mile RT), and Peavine Peak Trail (9-mile RT).

2. Gold Strike Hot Spring Trail. Located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, northeast of Boulder City, along the Great Basin Highway (US 93), 3 miles west of the Hoover Dam, and about 30 miles east of Las Vegas, this rugged hiking, climbing, and bouldering trail leads to Goldstrike Canyon and several hot springs pools (though some have dried up) -- and is closed in the summers. Length: 4.5 miles, but challenging. To find the trailhead, take Exit 2 (Hoover Dam), going right onto access road, and then left and down a dirt road for another half-mile. Nearby trails include: Railroad Tunnel Trail (3.7-mile rail-trail), Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail (5.9-mile; closed summers), Liberty Arch Trail (5.3-mile; moderate), Secret Canyon Trail (5.4-mile loop; scenic views).

3. Pine Grove Ghost Town Trail. Located in western Nevada, 20 miles outside of the town of Yerington, about 75 miles east of Lake Tahoe, 100 miles southeast of Reno, this trail offers scenic views and the chance to explore an abandoned mining town located on the top of a mountain. The town was originally called Wilsonville after William Wilson, who discovered gold there in 1866, but changed to Pine Grove in 1868. Two mines produced $8 million in gold, with gold production peaking in the late 1880s; by the 1930s, the town was deserted. Find lots of remains of old buildings. Length: 9.5 miles RT. Find the trail by taking Nevada 208 to Pine Grove Road to NF Road 059. Nearby trails include: Bodie Ghost Town Trail (31 miles RT), Bluestone Mine Trail (7.7 mile RT), Llewellyn Falls Loop Trail (13.3 mile), and Nye Canyon Trail (21.7 mile RT).

4. Marlette Lake Trail. Located in western Nevada, not far from the eastern shores of Lake Tahoe, this trail offers splendid views of North Canyon and Marlette Lake, as well as Lake Tahoe, as well as mountain peaks and forested landscapes. Length: 10 miles RT. Trailhead at Spooner Lake, where Route 28 meets Highway 50 -- either at the summit or in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park (fee). You have two options on your hike; take the single-track trail with multiple switchbacks or the North Canyon Road, an old dirt-packed old road (not open to vehicles, but used by mountain bikers). Fishing allowed at both Spooner and Marlette Lakes. Late afternoon is best for photography, and October brings amazing yellow colors from the Aspens, while late spring offers wildflowers. For something a bit more strenuous, consider the Tahoe Rim Trail (165-mile long-distance loop).

5. Mary Jane Falls Trail. Located in southeast Nevada, on Mount Charleston, about 40 miles west of Las Vegas, this hike takes you through an alpine canyon, offering spectacular mountain and forest views, as well as a 50-foot waterfall and several caves at the end of the trail. Length: 3.5 miles, but strenuous. Trailhead is located in Kyle Canyon on Kyle Canyon Road, beyond the village of Mount Charleston, in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, just beyond the trailhead for trail Canyon Trail (a 4.8 mile RT hike). The trail starts on an abandoned road that used to lead to campground (before it was destroyed by floods), but changing to a steep trail with multiple switchbacks. Other nearby trails include Big Falls Trail (4 mile trail that can be combined with Mary Jane Falls hike) and Charleston Peak South Trail (16.5 mile RT).


Bonus: Rail-Trails Highlights: Nevada has 5 Rail-Trails totaling about 97 miles. Take a hike or bike ride on the 7.2-mile Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, located just north of Boulder City, in southeastern Nevada, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, which was carved out of the edge of a mountain, and offers vistas of the Boulder Basin and Lake Mead. Find the trailhead off of the great Basin Highway (US 93), at Lakeshore Road. It is the only remaining section of the Hoover Dam Railroad system, and designated as a National Historic Trail. All five tunnels are about 300 feet long and 25 feet high (oversized for the large equipment that was transported on the line), and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For a longer hike, connect with the River Mountains Loop Trail. You can also access the trail from the Hoover Dam parking garage.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.

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