Bikes and Blackbirds in South Reno

South Reno bike trails edge wildlife-filled wetlands in Damonte Ranch offering a lovely alternative to street or mountain rides. Developers and planners built more than five miles of paved paths around huge swaths of marsh areas that today host such a broad array of birds that would pique the interest of the most ardent Audubon Society member.

Just a few years ago this area was mostly swampy marsh. Track team members from nearby Damonte Ranch High School would refer to it as “the pond run” through dirt paths, jumping from stone to stone to avoid mud holes.  My (now adult) twins still talk about their teammate who insisted on running with his phone — only to drop it into the marsh.

Today, the area is nearly built out with homes and condos with planned sitting areas and numerous accesses to the various neighborhoods.

In the last week we have twice ridden our bikes along what is officially called the Damonte Ranch Wetlands Loop.

Redwing Blackbird

Tweets, chirps and distinctive trills fill the air. Birds ranged from a flock of eight Pelicans, to dozens of Redwing Blackbirds. Photographers bring their large lenses to zoom in on at least a dozen different (and to me unusual) avian visitors. We’ve seen swans, hawks, several species of ducks, maybe an ibis? I am not a bird expert. If you are, you will be happy on this trail.

For those seeking a peaceful escape from the desert, take note: there’s not a sagebrush or rabbit brush plant along the route.

Mature trees shade seating areas, with flowers edging the shady areas. Looking across the marshes, it’s easy to ignore the many homes and condo complexes that edge the various paved paths.

A bike or walk can be anywhere from three miles to 10 miles on gently undulating terrain. It’s not completely flat, but there really aren’t hills.

Bike lanes line every major roadway in South Reno, making it ideal for the casual rider, and each new subdivision seems to include more trails. This loop is nice because it is not a “street” ride — we couldn’t even hear traffic.

Above it all, the snow-capped Sierra rises to the west offering a spectacular contrast between blue sky, majestic mountains and serene waterscapes.

bike path south reno

Googling “bike trails in Reno” seems to focus on mountain bike trails and trails at Lake Tahoe. The Damonte Ranch Bike Loop didn’t even come up, perhaps because it is more suitable for casual cyclists and families with young riders. It’s not a great place for “serious” street cyclists. Visitors can park at Damonte Ranch Park along Steamboat Parkway, then head south across the grass to access the trails.

What birds have you seen here? Do you have a favorite bike trail/walking path? Tell me about it!

Holly O’Driscoll, has lived in Reno for more than 20 years. She is a Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. 

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