Given the number of smoky days we have recently faced around Tahoe, it was a special treat to wake up to deep blue skies the day I’d planned on hiking a section of the Tahoe Rim Trail with fellow travel writer Suzanne Roberts. We were celebrating our new books that had just hit the shelf. Suzanne’s is Bad Tourist: Misadventures in Love and Travel, and mine is the 4th edition of the official Tahoe Rim Trail guidebook.
We took on an 8.5 mile out and back on one of my favorite segments of the Tahoe Rim Trail between Martis Peak Road and a viewpoint high above Incline Village. The hike starts at over 8000 feet, and keeps climbing gently up to over 9000 feet where we ate lunch and turned around.
At the start it’s a stroll through alternating sections of deep forest, and open ridgeline. We walked above the altitude where the firs live, and into the loftier areas where western white pines, hemlocks and some especially fine specimens of juniper reside. About 2.5 miles in we reached Rifle Peak, right at the California/Nevada line and one
of the TRT’s finest views atop a pile of rocks. Straight ahead in the foreground sits Kings Beach and the tower of the still shuttered Cal-Neva casino. Behind, it almost all of Lake Tahoe unfolds towards the South Shore. To the west, are the runs of Northstar, Martis Valley, Donner Lake and Donner Summit. To the north, you can see Boca, Stampede and Prosser Reservoirs.
We continued on another short climb through impressive hemlocks to the Mt. Rose Wilderness Boundary, which brought us over to the other side of the ridge, and the start of a whole new set of views down towards Incline Village, Diamond Peak Ski area and the eastern rim of the Tahoe Basin. We climbed some more, before dropping to a wide open expanse through the mule ears to a mile of gentle traverse towards the rosy Rose Knob Peak. If we kept going, in just a few more miles, and over a 1000 feet of elevation gain, we would have reached Relay Peak, the highest point on the entire Tahoe Rim Trail. But we had a date with a dip in Tahoe, so we turned around and once again marveled how lucky we are to live in Tahoe.