Visible throughout Carson City, the approximately 2,500 acre Prison Hill Recreation Area has been set aside and dedicated as open space for the community of Carson City. This popular open space is available for those who wish to hike, mountain bike, horseback ride, ride off-highway vehicles (south end only), experience great views of the Carson Range and Pine Nut Mountains, enjoy the quiet and take some great pictures. Prison Hill is located on the southeast side of town and has three main community parking areas. Prison Hill now connects to the new Carson River Trail System where you can now access from the Prison Hill 5th Street Trailhead.
Description: 2,500-acre natural recreation area. The northern end provides trails for non-motorized use (pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians). The southern end provides trails for motorized use.
Motorized Access Area: South end of Prison Hill, primary access is at 3100 Golden Eagle Lane. Trail Map
Non-Motorized Access Area: Parking is available at Silver Saddle Ranch (2648 Carson River Road), the east end of Koontz Lane (2044 Koontz Lane, This road is not being maintained), Carson River Road and 5th Street, and the east end of Clearview Drive (2600 E. Clearview Drive). Trail Map
The northern end, located off of East 5th Street and Carson River Road, and middle section, located off of Koontz Lane or Clearview Driver, has several loop trails open to foot, bicycle and equestrian use and is closed to motorized vehicles. Trails either connect to other access points or rise in elevation to a loop trail at the top of Prison Hill. This area provides excellent views of the Carson Range, Eagle Valley, the Carson River, the Pine Nut Mountain Range to the east, and an expansive view over Carson City.
The southern end of Prison Hill provides trails for motorized use. Similarly, there are several loops throughout the area. There is a large staging area for parking. Please check the map for “Motorized Use” boundary.
Whatever means of travel you choose to explore Prison Hill, be aware of wildlife inhabiting the area. This includes coyotes, rabbits, hawks, ground squirrels, and deer. You may even see golden eagles around the rock outcrops in the upper elevations. Please treat our natural heritage with respect. Leave plants, rocks and historical artifacts as you find them. Learn about the regulations and issues that apply to the area you’re visiting. Since vegetation is predominantly brush, the exposed slopes can endure hot summer temperatures. Always remember to bring water, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen as you explore.
- Pack out trash! As a regular visitor, consider picking up some litter as a community service!
- Stay on designated trails. Don’t shortcut switchbacks. Creating new trails on steep hillsides results in erosion during rainstorms.
- Dogs love the open space. As a responsible dog owner and out of respect for other recreationists and wildlife, please keep your dog nearby either with a leash or voice command. Please collect and remove all dog waste.
There are numerous trails on and around Prison Hill. There’s a dirt parking lot at the end of Koontz. The first small loop requires about 250 feet of climbing, but you get to coast back down. It’s about a mile and a half, but if you’re energetic you can go a lot farther up and around the hill.