Douglas County High Point Trip Report

East Peak (9,591 ft)

Date: August 10, 2000
Author: Scott Surgent

The access to the Douglas County highpoint is located in the Heavenly Ski Area just off of US-50 near Lake Tahoe. Earlier in the day I had hiked the highpoint of Carson City and it was only about 15 miles of driving from there to here. The traffic was very heavy.

From US-50 heading south along the rim of Lake Tahoe, turn left (east) onto NV-207, which is also called the Kingsbury Grade. This road gains elevation pretty fast, passing through a mostly residential area. After a couple of miles, it comes to the main entrance to the Heavenly Ski Area, which is on the right side of the road at S. Benjamin Road. Turn onto S. Benjamin, follow it briefly to a T-junction, and turn left toward the Stagecoach Ski Lift. Immediately, this road comes to another T-junction: turn right onto Tramway Road. Follow Tramway about 1 mile to yet another T-junction. Turn left (staying on Tramway Road). Almost immediately on the right is the Eagle's Nest Resort (?) building. Behind its parking area is the access to the dirt road that is the trailhead to the summit. I found a place to park along the road out of the way of traffic. This portion of Tramway Road is one-way, and passes past some very pricey hotels, resorts and complexes.

The information I had about this peak was very confusing. On the phone, the Heavenly Ski people said hiking was not allowed. In town, the Information Bureau on NV-207 near the S. Benjamin turnoff said hiking is always allowed. Then signs near the trailhead said hiking, biking, jogging and all else was not allowed but there were many hikers out anyway.

The gate across this road was open but I opted not to drive in, which was a good idea because there was construction going on up top and there were many trucks rumbling in and out of the area. Despite this being a dirt mountain road, some pretty good sized trucks passed my way, and I made sure to get as far off the road as possible when they passed. The road switchbacks a few times at first, crossing a ski slope in the process, then straightens out and gains steadily as it skirts the NE side of the mountain. After a little over a mile and about 900 feet of gain, it comes to a pond. The main road continues beyond the pond. To get to East Peak, I turned right, passed by the pond area, passed by a ski-lift, then started up the road toward a large ski-run area. Here I made a tactical decision that had both positive and negative effects on my hike.

This ski run is quite large and very obvious. I was growing weary of the long meandering road and decided to just cut some time and hike directly up this ski-run. It was steep and covered in straw (I guess to combat erosion) but it did gain me about 500 feet in about a third of the distance the road would have. So far, so good. At the top of the ski run, I came upon the road again, and could hear all the construction noises going on a short ways down the other side. Here, I made an error: I turned left and continued up this ski run, gaining about another 400 feet before coming to the top of a ski-lift (the top of the one whose bottom was near the pond). But something wasn't right. I took a bearing and found myself south of the pond, with my actual destination, East Peak, in full view, to the pond's west. So I descended this ski-run back to the upper road and very quickly found the right "road" up to the proper summit. A bit beat by this time, I made my way up the rocks to the summit and the benchmark amid some towers for a well-deserved rest and an awesome view of most of Lake Tahoe.

After a brief snack I started the walk down. I decided to follow the road instead of the ski-run but the road took so long going down that when it came back near the lower ski-run I opted to take it instead. I also saved some time and mileage on the switchbacks near the bottom by descending another ski-run. In all, the round-trip is about 4 miles, or possibly more if you take the road the whole way, and about 1,700 feet of gain.

This was an interesting hike in that the whole time I was amidst ski-lifts, ski-runs and numerous signs pointing to all sorts of routes. The road wasn't the prettiest route- very dusty. But the views from on high were quite nice.