It’s been nearly 20 years since the effort to create a 116-mile-long pedestrian and bicycle path between Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake began. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners will on Tuesday consider whether to establish a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Washoe County Parks and the non-profit Tahoe-Pyramid Trail (TPT) for the planning of one of two sections needed to complete the trail.
This section of the trail would run for five miles between Larkin Circle in Sparks and Mustang Road. The county is not proposing to commit any funding to the project, other than “staff time as available for planning assistance.”
Construction of this portion of the trail has been waylaid by landowner issues for several years.
According to a county staff report, there “are several challenges related to this potential segment of the trail, including Union Pacific Railroad crossings and permitting requirements from the Nevada Department of Transportation.”
The trail is 80% complete. If commissioners vote to approve the MOU, county staff will help TPT with planning for the new section.
Specifically, Washoe County Parks would agree to apply for grants and funding on behalf of TPT when only governmental agencies are eligible. The county would also submit applications for easements and encroachment permits and satisfy permitting requirements for permits to be held by the county.
TPT would prepare engineering, surveying and other supporting materials for grant applications, funding opportunities and permits to be sought by it or Washoe County Parks.
The western portion of the path between Tahoe and the Reno–Sparks area opened on Oct. 5, 2019. The project has earned four national awards in recent years and TPT Founder and Director Janet Phillips was named “Trail Champion of the Year” by California Trails and Greenways in 2017.
Phillips told This Is Reno the trail between Sparks and Mustang has not been the focus of work in recent years not only because of landowner issues, but because the organization has been focused on completion of the section between Verdi and Truckee.
“So, our focus has been going west—and we finished that just before the pandemic hit, thankfully… Now we’re starting to head east,” she said.
She said the new section will be important because it connects to a section of existing trail that then connects to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
“So, we think it could have the potential for some bike commuting out there, you know, for strong riders,” Phillips said, adding, “It’s exciting. It’s also a little bit overwhelming because it’s a difficult section. California, that side between Verdi and Truckee, was difficult from a topography standpoint—but going east is difficult from a land ownership perspective.”
After spending the better part of two decades on it, Phillips said she believes the project could be completed in as few as five years.
“The vision is really—it’s just brilliant to have that concept of connecting the two lakes with a path by the river. And we only have two sections left,” she said. “My personal goal is to finish it while I can still ride a bike.”
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.