Office of the County Manager

Gerlach Trail Initiative

What is the Gerlach Trail Initiative? 

The Gerlach Trail Initiative is a collaboration of multiple partner organizations seeking to develop a multi-use trail from the community of Gerlach across the playa to county route 34. Depending on the chosen route, this interpretive trail is expected to connect Gerlach, the Washoe ArTrail, the planned Burning Man art park, and Guru Road. 

The proposed trail will create a way for users to experience and learn about the environment and history of this area while offering educational, recreational, health and economic benefits. Framing Gerlach’s most epic view, the trail will highlight the southernmost portion of the Black Rock Desert playa. There is no greater stretch of flat lakebed landscape in the United States. 

Trails positively impact individuals and improve communities by providing not only recreation and transportation opportunities, but also by influencing economic development and offering educational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

What draws people to Gerlach?

pic-1.jpgMany are drawn for the solitude and wide open spaces. Hunters, rocketeers, campers, rockhounders, hot spring enthusiasts all visit the area. Others come to visit Fly Ranch or attend a larger-scale event.

Our local population soars during Burning Man season. Nearly every passerby stops in town for fuel, supplies, information or a meal. It’s no secret that as usage increases there is a greater need for public education and information. 

A community trail not only highlights Gerlach’s location on the edge of the Black Rock Desert, but also becomes a scenic and protected corridor connecting the businesses in town to outlier points of interest such as Guru Rd and Burning Man’s 360.

The Gerlach Community Trail would be a place where users can enjoy fresh air, get some exercise, sit a spell under the sky, and visit with friends and neighbors, establishing itself as a place of preservation and pride.

Trail Benefits: 

  • Quality of Life - Our community becomes a better place to live by preserving and creating open space that is accessible to all. 
  • Economic - Another reason to visit Gerlach, or stay a bit longer. Property values increase. Trails can serve as economic drivers. 
  • Public Education – Educate visitors so that they have a better understanding of the area. 
  • Outdoor Recreation - Encourages a healthy lifestyle and offers an option to get outdoors during inclement weather and ground conditions. 
  • Inclusive - ADA compliant, so that persons with limited mobility can still experience the landscape close up. 
  • Protect the environment - Long overdue trash cleanup of the area at the end of the runway. A raised trail over the drainage would prevent further vehicle damage to runoff areas. Vehicles coming off playa could potentially be more properly routed. 
  • Safer roads during busy times - As Gerlach and visitation grows, and seasonal influx moves into the 360, this trail would reduce vehicle trips from the 360 property to town. Encourage alternate forms of transportation, including the fast-growing e-bike market. 
  • Child Safety - This trail would create a safe place, void of vehicle traffic, for children and families to enjoy.

Educational Components

playa.jpgA kiosk placed at each end of the trail at a designated parking area could give an overview of the experience.  Signage could also be placed along the trail. These signs could be mounted to low posts, so as not to impede the viewshed, photography and experience. These signs could have an accompanying digital component, such as a QR code to scan for additional information/interaction. 



  • Wildlife
  • Vegetation
  • How Dunes are formed
  • Ancient Lake Lahontan
  • First Peoples
  • Gerlach History (construction could make use of railroad ties)
  • Today’s use (Burning Man, Rocketry for example)
  • Mining & Natural Resources
  • Hot Springs & Wetlands
  • Ranching
  • Soils
  • Safety/Stuck

Artistic benches and sitting areas could be installed along the route. These could be sponsored by stakeholders and residents.

January 2023 Community Survey Results

We are thrilled to have the support of the following partner agencies: Burning Man Project, Friends of Black Rock High Rock ,Gerlach Citizen Advisory Board, Gerlach General Improvement District, U.S. National Parks Service, Washoe County Community Reinvestment, Washoe County GIS, Washoe County Parks and Open Space

We’re also working closely with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Winnemucca District Office.

 Related Resources

Washoe ArtTrail Project 

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Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »