North of Truckee, State Route 89 travels over rolling hills and through acres of thick forest as it descends to Sierraville. Along the way, there aren’t many signs of human life except for the occasional campground, trailhead or private road. The highway provides access to amazing outdoor destinations and endless recreational opportunities including many family-friendly activities.
One notable family-friendly hike is the trail along Perazzo Meadows in Little Truckee River Valley near Jackson Meadows Reservoir and Independence Lake. The trail skirts the edge of the river and offers panoramic views of the river valley and vast network of wetland meadows. This remote landscape is an ideal location for an easy-going and tranquil walk with the family.
It’s interesting going on a hike with three family generations. But this trail was accommodating to everyone, despite our varying levels of athletic ability, patience and interest.
I recently went to Perazzo Meadows with my 6-year-old son Anikin, my sister Kat Hill and my parents Jim and Cheryl Hill, who had recently moved to Northern Nevada from Virginia. It’s interesting going on a hike with three family generations. But I think this trail was accommodating to everyone, despite our varying levels of athletic ability, patience and interest.
On the hike, Anikin’s interest was driven by just about anything related to science and the natural world. He looked for wildflowers and marked trees, taking photos with the iNaturalist app that we can submit later. He also identified signs of wildlife and tested the laws of gravity by throwing sticks and rocks over the riverbank. We walked less than 1 mile to a stunning overlook on the river and spent time taking in the view. Looking out over the river valley, I tried to imagine what this land would be like if it had been bought by developers. Thankfully, that is not the case; it is being preserved and protected.
2.4 miles roundtrip | Easy-moderate
Dogs allowed on leash. Picnic tables along the trail.
Anikin had no interest in the view and repeatedly asked me when we were going to leave. We headed back down the trail the way we came. At the front of the pack, Anikin walked with Kat discussing wildlife and wildflowers in between rounds of sprints back and forth on the trail. Grandma and I chatted about life and admired the beauty of the valley. We all tried to ignore Papa, my dad, as he meandered on and off the trail making jokes that nobody thought were funny, especially Anikin. Sorry, Papa they just weren’t funny.
Even though this trail is rated as moderate it is appropriate for most members of the family.
There are some uphill sections that may pose a challenge, but my family was able to easily navigate the well-packed, dirt trail. To accommodate our group’s unique needs and abilities, we did not walk the entire length of the trail.
Perazzo Meadows supports a variety of plant, animal, fish and bird species, including mule deer, Sand hill cranes and black bears. It is also home to rare species such as mountain yellow-legged frogs, peregrine falcons, and bald and golden eagles. But this fragile land was modified and degraded by logging in the late 1800s, road construction and decades of dairy farming. Fortunately, the land was purchased by the Trust for Public Land and Truckee Donner Land Trust keeping it out of the hands of developers.
Since acquiring the land, these agencies, along with the Truckee River Watershed Council, have been working to restore the natural hydrologic function and reestablish wildlife habitat. The plan includes planting native plant species such as sedges and rushes to prevent erosion and increase habitat and redirect the stream water to its natural channels. These measures expand the floodplain allowing the meadows to hold water again.
The restoration work is already underway, so you may encounter some machinery at work if you visit during the week. The work will be completed sometime in October.
Take State Route 89 north of Truckee about 15 miles to Jackson Meadows Road and turn left. Drive 1½ miles to a sign for Independence Lake Road. Turn left onto the graded road. Cross the bridge over the Little Truckee River and proceed to the first right turn, which is a dirt road easily drivable in most cars. This unsigned road is Henness Pass Road. Look for a sign on the right that marks the trailhead for Lower Perazzo Meadows after about 4 miles. | truckeedonnerlandtrust.org