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Mt. Ralston Peak, Lake Tahoe

The thigh-burner of Lake Tahoe, Mt. Ralston rewards intrepid day-hikers with stunning mountain overlooks.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 7 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview:  There are many sights to wonder over as you snake eastward along US-50 towards Lake Tahoe, but Mt. Ralston isn't one of them despite... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead

Pull the car up on the North side of highway 50, just opposite the entrance to Camp Sacramento. If you're driving in from the West, the trailhead is located just around a set of uphill bends past the town of Strawberry.

2. [JCT] Fire Trail

Just 200ft from the trail we reach our first junction. Choose the left-hand direction and you’ll be on the simple out-and-back route.

Alternatively you could choose the right-hand route which heads up the fire trail into the forest and lops a little distance off your journey. On the positive side this route adds some variety to your journey, ... More

3. [JCT] Desolation Wildnerness

Forests of pine gradually recede as the route up the mountain takes you to higher elevations. Soon you will cross the Desolation Wilderness boundary. You'll need a permit (which is free) if you decide to venture into the wilderness and onto the summit.

4. Granite and more granite

Around two-thirds of the way up the mountain the evergreens give way almost entirely to open expanses of grasses and granite outcroppings. Occasionally the trail will disappear from view, but this becomes less of an issue at this stage since the summit of the mountain comes into sight.

From here you can view Lovers Leap to the east and... More

5. Summit

You'll know you're close to the summit when you start to navigate your way over large boulders and the wind starts to pick up.

From the top you'll be rewarded with stunning views including views of Desolation Wilderness, Echo Lakes, Mount Tallac, and Lake Tahoe.