• By Albert Depew

Prison Hill OHV Recreation Area

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Prison Hill OHV Vision Statement

This multi-phased project will provide Carson City residents and visitors a wide variety of high-quality off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreational opportunities that are free to the public in a well-managed day-use setting.  The look and feel of the site will represent professionalism and quality and offer an array of unique features to attract beginners, experts, competitors, families, and non-motorized enthusiasts.  The sustainable network of designated trails and facilities within the Prison Hill Recreation Area is a genuine asset and a family-friendly OHV destination for Carson City and its residents.

Responsible 4x4 Tips

Notice of Construction Activity


Recreationists should be aware that construction activity will be occurring at various times and places at Prison Hill during 2020. Please watch for equipment, personnel, and stockpiles of materials. Watch for construction warning signs and changes or additions trails, facilities, and signage. Watch for new fencing and training facilities at the trailhead. There may be changes in existing trails as they become closed or relocated as new trail connectors get added. Drainage structures will be added to existing trails. Reduce speed as these structures will create dips of sudden drops in the trail tread. Please Tread Lightly since newly constructed trails and structures will be soft and easily susceptible to impacts. Ride Right, please respect any closure/restriction signs.


 Interim Map

 Prison Hill Interim Map 11x17 March9

Ride Right- Properly Equip Your Vehicle

Ride Right is part of our education program to help make riders aware of legal and ethical equipment requirements that will help address issues at Prison Hill. Nevada state law requires that all OHVs used off highways must be registered and display a decal. Here is a link for registration information: https://ohv.nv.gov/register  Spark arrestors are required on all Forest Service and BLM lands. Their use here will reduce the risk of wildfire caused by a faulty exhaust system. Sound requirements of <96 dbA comply with national standards and will help reduce noise impacts to neighboring residents. Less Sound = More Ground. Ride Right/Ride Smart.



Ride Right- Don’t Crush the Brush

The Don’t Crush the Brush campaign is an educational program to encourage riders to stay on the trail, ride responsibly, and protect the natural environment. Erosion and vegetation loss are two huge issues at Prison Hill. Vehicles travelling cross-country are crushing critical vegetation that holds soil, provides wildlife habitat, and adds to our visual enjoyment of the area. Please stay on designated routes and areas.



Trail Signing Protocols6-

 Vehicle use has changed from riding existing routes to riding designated routes/areas only. There are three open areas that allow cross-country travel. All are signed with boundary sings that face the open area.

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Travel management signs like this are installed at the major access points:


All trails are two-way, so please ride responsibly.

The trailhead is an area of congestion with people loading, unloading, beginner riders, families, or groups enjoying a picnic. Ride Responsibly by keeping your speed and dust down. The speed limit in and around the staging area is 5 MPH. 

Currently, there are many trails that dead-end at the subdivision property line and an issue at Prison Hill has been riders ending up in a resident’s back yard or riding through the subdivision streets. These trails are being signed with intrusion signs that restrict use. Ride Right, please stay off these trails which will eventually be closed.


The Prison Hill Recreation Area is divided into two parts: one motorized and one non-motorized. Motor vehicle intrusion into the non-motorized portion has been an issue. Much of the boundary will be fenced, the primary intrusion access points will be closed, and boundary signs are being installed. Ride Right- please respect the fencing and boundary signs.


Some areas will be closed to help manage the use and protect resources. It is our intent to keep those areas to a minimum and you can do your part by Riding Right and Riding Responsibly. These closed areas will be signed with a variety a messages:

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This project will utilize both trail names and numbers. Both named and numbered trails will have a prefix indicating the use intended/allowed on that trail. Those are: S = single-track motorcycle; D = double-track which is open to all vehicles though 4WD is recommended; and W = wheeler/crawler. A W trail differs from a D trail in that it usually has a higher degree of technical difficulty, usually has a higher degree of management (signing, barriers, etc), and often has specific equipment limitations/requirements.

Difficulty will be indicated by the standard decals: Green Circle = Easiest; Blue Square = More Difficult; Black Diamond = Most Difficult; Double Black Diamond = Extreme. For numbered trails, difficulty will also be indicated by the first number in the sequence: 1 = Easiest; 2 = More Difficult; 3 = Most Difficult; 4 = Extreme. Trail D132 will be an Easiest double-track trail. Trail S21 will be a More Difficult, single-track trail. Trail D302 will be a Most Difficult double-track trail


 Implementation Updates

We will periodically post updates of the construction progress.

Signs of Change

Signs of Change 2


  • The Pine Nut Mountains Trail Association (PNTMA) hosted a clean-up event on October 6, 2019.  They removed 1000 lbs. of trash and recovered an abandoned Jeep from Dead Truck Canyon with help from members of the Rock Crawling community.
  • The Carson High School NJROTC helped with the clean-up event.
  • Work in underway to address some of the drainage issues and improve the access road


OHV recreation will shift from unmanaged travel to a designated and managed system of OHV trails and open areas.

This change is needed because decades of unmanaged use have created a variety of issues including a proliferation of trails, soil erosion, vegetation loss, private land intrusion, wildlife habitat impacts as well as noise, safety and user conflicts.
Designated routes and areas will be signed, mapped, and provide a high-quality riding experience while mitigating the issues above.

Having sustainable OHV trails and facilities will insure quality recreation opportunities for future generations

OHV Prison Hill Management Plan 


Prison Hill OHV Brochure

Where Can I Ride?

Currently, none of the trails are signed with trail numbers or marked with direction arrows.

Signing will be implemented in Phase 3 of the project. Until then:

• Ride only existing routes
• Crawl only on areas that show evidence of prior use
• Do not trample vegetation
• Creating dust is soil that is lost forever
• Ride Responsibly!

What is Happening Now?

Work has started on a series of projects to improve the trails and facilities at Prison Hill. These projects will take place over the next two years and include:

Phase 1 (2018):
o Site assessment
o Public involvement
o Development of Management Plan

Phase 2 (2019):
o Begin education
o Develop trail & facility concept plans
o Perform trail & facility design
o Develop sign & monitoring plans
o Begin implementation
o Identify & sign the area boundary

Phase 3 (2020):
o Continue education
o Complete implementation which will include: Staging Area improvements, New kiosk, Vault toilet, Quality trails, a Tot Lot, Beginner Area, Rock Crawl & Trials Areas, & a developed Summit Loop

This project is funded in large part by grants from the Nevada OHV Commission and the Recreational Trails Program.