Some Truckee River trails are paved and maintained; others are earthen footpaths of questionable origin, traveled by fishermen, deer and other unknown wanderers. These wild trails are where you’re most likely to find the good stuff, or at least surprise a sleeping duck. On Sunday, while driving home from Truckee, CA, I pulled off the highway and explored a meander of river located just downstream from Prosser Creek and upstream from where Boca Reservoir flows into the Truckee. Here, a few dirt roads and fishing trails criss-cross an undeveloped piece of land that is cut off like an island, with I-80 on one side and the river enclosing the rest.
I picked my way down the rocky riverbank, and sat down next to a Thinleaf alder for a few minutes to see if anything interesting would pop out. After a minute or two, two Song sparrows began chipping from the bush next to me. I suspect they wanted me to leave. That wasn’t the surprise I was hoping for, and it wasn’t that surprising. I continued my walk.
Further down the trail, which requires climbing up and down the riverbank a few times, there were summer wildflowers blooming, and a tiny garter snake slithered through the grass. This spot is only about a 25 minute drive west of Reno, but the plants that grow along the riverbanks are very different as you move upstream into the Sierra Nevadas. I saw:
- Brewer’s angelica (Angelica breweri) – native
- Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – native
- Common toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) – introduced
- Perennial pea (Lathyrus latifolius) – introduced
- Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) – native
- Water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis) – native
Photos: (Click to enlarge)
I’ve seen most of those before, but the water buttercup was new to me. I assumed it was something invasive and terrible, but USDA Plants and a few Sierra Nevada plant books assure me that it’s native to this part of the world. A good find for a Sunday wander!
This is a nice spot for a Truckee River walk – if you’re heading down I-80E from Truckee, stop and check it out. Be careful getting on and off the freeway — there’s no ramp here, you just have to pull off onto the shoulder.