As an adopted Californian, currently stranded on the island of Manhattan, I’ve done research on this very question, as when we moved here, I negotiated one trip a year back to the West Coast.
Based on your time frame, though, the West Coast may just not work. I’ve flown into Reno once a year for the last three years. That three hour time change plus a connection is a killer. I have to leave on Saturday morning to arrive by 3-4pm, and then fly out by noon to be back in NYC by midnight on my return.
In theory, I could do a 72 and change hour trip by taking Friday off work, leaving in the early AM(8-10am), arriving in Reno between 3-5pm, taking a shuttle to South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, or Truckee (60-90 minutes) and then a cab to a trailhead, or walk onto the Tahoe Rim Trail in Tahoe City. Renting a car shortens that process, and would make it easier to stop at a sporting goods store to pick up a fuel canister, if you don’t want to go no-cook. In the summer I’d have a couple hours of daylight to hit the trail and find a campsite before dark. Then I’d have Saturday, and most of the day on Sunday before catching a 7pm red-eye back to NYC, arriving at between 5-6am, getting home at 7am to shower before heading to work by 8am. And of course there’d be the need to shower or wash up somehow before boarding that red-eye. I could also take a half-day off on Friday, catch a 4pm flight and be in Reno by 10pm, stay at a hotel and start early Saturday.
A quick look at Kayak, and it looks like you could do about the same thing. If you rise really early, there are pre-7am flights that get you into Reno before noon. I just worry about forgetting something trying to leave that early.
And any flight delay messes up plans significantly.
I’ve done research on a lot of other place, Reno being the only one I have personal experience, with, but I’m looking at a 6-10 day time-frame, not 48-72 hours.