The Prison Hill Loop is a local secret, tucked away on the crest of a small range of hills on the east side of Carson City.
Trail DescriptionThe trail leaves the trailhead heading east up towards the crest of Prison Hill. After 0.5mi it gains a saddle and turns north for a couple hundred yards before splitting into a 3-mile 'lollipop' loop before heading back down the hill to the trailhead. It can be ridden in either direction, although going left first is much easier from the aerobic perspective. Doing laps in both directions is highly recommended!
The first portion of the ride actually follows an old road, but even this section is pretty much turned into singletrack now, as it is off-limits to vehicles. This first mile is aerobically challenging, with a short section of technical rock that is totally ridable uphill. A ~200ft section is very sandy in the dry seasons, the only part of the trail that cannot be ridden at all.
Upon reaching the crest of the hills, the trail turns north for a couple hundred yards and branches - singletrack leaves the old 4WD road to both the left and right. Either direction is fine, and both have their advantages. Since they both come back to essentially the same spot on the main trail, you can ride the loop multiple times, trying each direction out. There are a couple of short semi-technical sections on various parts of the loop, but for the large part it is straightforward riding. Be prepared for more aerobic challenges if you take the east (right) side first...
The 'lollipop' basically contours round the north end of Prison Hill, taking in views the entire time. There are some spots with technical rock steps and narrow singletrack, along with packed curves and very ridable but cardio-intensive climbs.
As an aside, there is an alternative way off the Hill on the north side, starting at the extreme north end of the Loop. It follows a steep switchbacking horse trail with several obstacles that are ridable, making things interesting. I don't think this is a very feasible climb, but it is fun to descend.
When to RideDue to the typical dry climate of Carson City, the Prison Hill Loop is pretty much a year-round trail.
Hot weather will be fairly unpleasant due to the 5000' elevation, but all other seasons are great temperature-wise.