Mountain bikers tend to outnumber hikers when it comes to trails in the Jack’s Valley. Not a problem for those on foot, as those with pedals seem to always be courteous even when going fast downhill.
Even though hiking is not the first sport people think of when it’s winter in Tahoe, with the proximity to Carson City and Carson Valley there is plenty of dirt to play in year-round.
Dropping in elevation also offers a change of scenery. About 3,100 acres in this area is managed for winter deer range. Mule deer love the sagebrush. Bitterbrush is the other common vegetation growing here.
It doesn’t take long before views of fertile ranch lands as well as more developed civilization come into view. It’s a gradual, but distinct climb at the start. Then it tapers out a bit.
Seemingly around ever bend is another outcropping of rocks that look like they were planted there. Otherwise it is rather desolate on this stretch of trail. The rocks look like they would be fun to climb; though some would require skill and technical know-how.
While it would be possible to hike 15 miles to get to the Spooner Summit trailhead from Jack’s Valley, we only put in 4.1 miles on the Clear Creek Trail this particular day. It was more about an opportunity to stretch our legs. Getting a late start also didn’t work in our favor with the days so much shorter.
This is a good place to visit most times of the year except the middle of summer because of the heat, lack of shade, and no water. Though, had we gone farther, we would have eventually hit pine trees.
- From the South Shore, take Kingsbury Grade (Highway 207) to the Carson Valley. At the stop sign, turn left onto Foothill Road. This turns into Jacks Valley Road. Trailhead is on the left. If you come to the elementary school on the right, you went too far. If coming from Highway 395, the trailhead is a couple miles on the right just past the school, which will be on the left.
- Dogs allowed. Leashes required from Oct. 1-Nov. 30.
- Elevation gain was 384 feet. Minimum elevation was 5,051 feet; maximum was 5,474 feet.
- For more ideas about where to hike and snowshoe in the greater Lake Tahoe area, check out Lake Tahoe Trails For All Seasons: Must-Do Hiking and Snowshoe Treks, The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes, and Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks.