Little Valley Fall Forest Festival

Annual fall event

Join us for an interactive open house to learn about the University of Nevada, Reno’s Whittell Forest & Wildlife Area and the Little Valley Research Station, the range of research and creative activities happening in the forest, and to participate in science! You can camp overnight on Friday, or come Saturday for a day of fun and education.

Registration currently closed
A group of hikers enjoying the day at the Little Valley Fall Forest Festival

Where and when

We will meet at the Hobart Reservoir Trail at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023 OR at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023 to caravan into Little Valley together. Participants are welcome to join us on Sept. 8 and camp in designated areas of the forest that night to enjoy the natural beauty and to support multi-day participation. Camping details will be shared following your registration. The event is family friendly and fun for all ages!

Festival activities

The Little Valley Fall Forest Festival will provide an opportunity to visit the beautiful Whittell Forest & Wildlife Area, learn how the University is using this land for experiential learning and creativity, and to participate in hands-on activities. Friday evening offers time for exploration, relaxation and a sunset hike to the meadow. Saturday will include a presentation by the Forest Director and Manager, followed by small group tours and activities of your choice, such as:

  • Scavenger hunt: identifying species
  • Intro to forestry inventory: tree and plant measurements
  • Meadow function: history and role of meadow ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada
  • Fire ecology: past and present fire history and natural regime
  • Cultural connections: history of the region, including Comstock logging & mining, Washoe Tribal use, Basque sheepherding
  • Eastern Sierra dendrology: tree and shrub identification of common species

Light snacks will be provided on Saturday morning and afternoon.

About the Little Valley and Whittell

The Whittell Forest & Wildlife Area (Whittell) is a 2,650-acre forested property owned by the University of Nevada, Reno. Whittell is situated in the Little Valley, which encompasses a large meadow system and forested landscape managed by the US Forest Service and the University. Whittell is a designated University Core Research Facility maintained as a living field laboratory for research, instruction and community outreach in order to contribute to the understanding and protection of natural ecosystem integrity while engaging Nevada citizens in learning and problem-solving activities.

Festival schedule

Friday, Sept. 8, 2023

3-3:30 p.m.: Meet at the Hobart Reservoir Trail and condense into vehicles

3:30-4:45 p.m.: Caravan in to forest

4:45-7:30 p.m.: Camp set-up, exploration and dinner (bring your own food and camp cooking equipment)

7:30-8:45p.m.: Sunset hike to meadow (optional)

Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023

8:30-9:00 a.m.: Meet at the Hobart Reservoir Trail

9-10 a.m.:

  • Campers: Breakfast (bring your own food, hot beverages and camp cooking equipment). Donuts, fruit and juice will be provided!
  • Caravanners: Drive into forest

10-10:30 a.m.: Presentation by Forest Director and Manager at the meadow’s edge

  • History of forest
  • Education, research and creative activity happening in forest
  • How to get involved in and support ecological stewardship
  • How to access the land (campus community and general public) for research and teaching activities

10:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Small group tours & activities

Group A (staying around camp):

  • Intro to forestry inventory: tree and plant measurements
  • Eastern Sierra dendrology: tree and shrub identification of common species
  • Scavenger hunt: photograph and identify species of one flower, one shrub, one tree

Group B (hiking toward the south meadow; approximately 2.5 miles roundtrip)

  • Meadow function: history and role of meadow ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada
  • Fire ecology: past and present fire history and natural regime
  • Cultural connections: history of the region, including Comstock logging and mining, Washoe Tribal use, and Basque sheepherding

12:45-1 p.m.: Regroup at central location

1-1:45 p.m.: Lunch (bring your own lunch; additional snacks and beverages will be provided) and weekend debrief (led by Director and Forest Manager)

1:45-2:45 p.m.: Final activity: hike to historic logging camp and largest lodgepole pine in the State

2:45-3:30 p.m.: Camp tear-down

3:30-4:45 p.m.: Caravan back to Hobart Reservoir trail parking

Driving, access and use details

Vehicle use

Personal vehicle use will be necessary; however, the University is not responsible nor liable for damage incurred. A waiver will be required prior to entering the forest. You may drive yourself to the forest if you have 4WD or AWD vehicle with at least eight inches of clearance. The road is narrow and branches may scratch the sides of vehicles. For example, a Subaru may be able to stay clear of most branches, but a 1/2 ton truck will get scratched.

We will also carpool as much as possible to reduce the amount of traffic on the road. If you are willing to drive others, please indicate this on your registration, as well as how many you can take. If you would like a ride, please indicate this on your registration form.

Policies and regulations

  1. All visitors are required to sign a liability waiver and release form. No exceptions will be made. Users enter and use the property at their own risk. Personal vehicle use is at the discretion of the driver.
  2. No campfires or open fires of any kind are allowed on the forest. Gas cooking stoves are allowed under supervision.
  3. Smoking of any kind is prohibited on University property.
  4. Alcohol consumption is prohibited per University policy.
  5. Firearms are prohibited on University property.
  6. Dogs are prohibited on the property without express written permission.
  7. Wildlife is present on the property. Be bear aware. Visitors will be required to lock up food and scented items in a University-provided bear-safe container or structure.
  8. Whittell is a natural area and, as such, has potential risks or hazards associated with use, including but not limited to inclement weather, serious personal injury due to slips or falls, wild animal attacks, or accidents due to negligence of users.
  9. Only authorized users may drive motorized vehicles on the Whittell Forest & Wildlife Area road system. All authorized vehicles must stay on established and recognized roads.

What to bring

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Water
  • Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast and cooking equipment (for campers); Saturday lunch (for all participants). Some food will be provided: donuts, fruit and juice for Saturday breakfast; snacks and beverages for Saturday afternoon.
  • Sun protection (sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc.)
  • Others: binoculars, field guides, gloves, hiking attire
  • Camping gear for those staying Friday, Sept. 8
  • If you would like to do the species identification for the scavenger hunt activity, bring a fully charged phone or tablet with the iNaturalist app loaded! Read the following instructions for downloading the app prior to your trip.


Please register using the following form. Once registered, details will be shared regarding day-of meeting locations, weather and on-site camping options. Registration is now closed.

Please remember to leave those doggies at home!


Fall Forest Festival registration form