In winter the Steamboat Ditch slumbers as it awaits the explosion of new life that will come once the weather warms.
In spring and summer, the canal and the trail present a winding oasis in the southern reaches of the concrete-clad city. Enter the path nearly anywhere along its length and be embraced by nature.
Racoons, cottontails, jackrabbits and ground squirrels, deer and other critters inhabit the brush and tall grass. Coyotes and bobcats prowl. Songbirds flit among the cottonwoods and willows. Owls roost, awaiting darkness. Cattails sway at the waterline. Hawks wheel above the greenway, sharp-eyed and hunting, as they glide or hang motionless, borne on the clear summer air.
Photos of the Steamboat Ditch and trail
Here’s a look at what the hikers, dog-walkers, bikers, birders and runners have come to enjoy along the Steamboat Ditch trail.
(The Steamboat Valley just south of Reno) is about 6,000 acres, and some of the finest farms in the county are located here. The water of Steamboat Creek and several irrigating ditches supply the necessary moisture for the crops, of which alfalfa, grain and vegetables are a great staple… In the midst of the valley lies the town of Reno. The future of this valley is bright and promising.” – Myron Angel, “History of Nevada,” 1881.
Although users of the Steamboat Ditch trail wax lyrical about the path when the vegetation is in peak season, fall and winter also have their allure for trail users.
The Steamboat Ditch opened to water deliveries in July of 1880. For generations, Reno residents have used the easement along the ditch as a recreational path, although most of it isn’t designated as a public trail. Users of the amenity are worried that plans to replace sections of the open ditch with a buried pipeline will harm the ecosystem and restrict recreational use.
A Reno News & Review story about those plans accompanies this sidebar.