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Steamboat Ditch Trail: Hole-In-The-Wall Section

Easy
 4.3 (6)

A pleasant, gentle wander along the Reno foothills, where the views are great and the water attracts birds and wildlife.


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Map Key

4.5

Miles

7.2

KM

Doubletrack

4,927' 1,502 m

High

4,888' 1,490 m

Low

106' 32 m

Up

73' 22 m

Down

1%

Avg Grade (0°)

3%

Max Grade (2°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Unknown

Features Views

Family Friendly Very gentle grade and smooth, wide riding surface.

Need to Know

Use of the other sections of the Steamboat Ditch is definitely nebulous, at best. Go at your own risk, since you may be trespassing and there doesn't seem to be a public source out there that tells you which parcels are okay and which are not.

If you go as far as the Hole, you might want to take a side tour to see the historic airmail arrow below the hillslope the water passes under.

Description

The Steamboat Ditch runs for over 44-miles: from the mouth of the Truckee River canyon, along the foothills above Reno to Steamboat. Paralleling the ditch for most of its length is a dirt maintenance road, which would seem to provide an exemplary urban hiking and long-distance mountain biking trail.

Sadly, things are not that easy. I learned this from the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway folks, who explored this route for their longer trail:

Briefly, it started with a grassroots effort to get the Ditch Trail into public ownership. Mayor at the time was Pete Sferrazza who stated publicly that owners along the ditch should donate their part of the ditch to the City of Reno. Failing that he went on to say that the City would just take the property through eminent domain from property owners who didn't want to donate. You can imagine how well that went over. Almost overnight a Property Owner's Rights Association was formed, and lawyers lined up on both sides. The controversy raged for a few years, but no lawsuits were ever filed. A demonstration trail was built at Horsemen's Park and a few parcels were donated, but eventually interest faded and the issue went back to sleep.

The Steamboat Canal & Irrigation Co. holds a water transport easement only. They can use the "maintenance road" for access, but their insurance carrier has threatened to cancel their coverage unless the Company can keep the public away from the ditch. Good luck doing that, but it too went back to sleep.


So. The stretch of ditch mapped here between Hole-In-The-Wall to the west (where the ditch water is diverted through a tunnel under a hill) to Woodchuck Circle to the east is a popular and apparently legitimate recreation asset that runs largely on public land. You can park where the ditch crosses Woodchuck Circle and begin following the obvious trail west, or bike steeply up the Tom Cooke Trail from the Patagonia warehouse (or Mayberry Park).

However, the access situation on the other segments of the Steamboat Ditch is extremely nebulous. Here is some information from W to E to help you decide what to do:

- Verdi to Hole-In-The-Wall: there are 8 gates (most usually open), but property maps suggest it runs almost entirely on public--land.
- Woodchuck Cir. to Keshmiri Pl.: gated but unlocked with holes in fence and obvious use.
- Keshmiri Pl. to Meridian Ln./Susileen Dr. to Manzanita Ln.: Commonly ridden and mapped online.
- The remainder of the ditch: trail discontinuous, uncooperative landowners.

Contacts

Shared By:

F Felix

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 6 votes

#8066

Overall
  4.3 from 6 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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3 Star
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Trail Rankings

#61

in Nevada

#8,066

Overall
14 Views Last Month
2,526 Since Dec 25, 2019
Easy

67%
33%
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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Apr 22, 2023
Rachel Becker
Ditch with Connor! 8.2mi — 0h 58m
Aug 1, 2022
Sarah H
Super hot/little shade but a fun ride along the canal. My dog loved it
Oct 18, 2021
Richard Orr
Great ride out of town for two beginners to mt biking.
Jun 8, 2020
Travis Huston
8.4mi
May 30, 2020
Desmond Green
9mi