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
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.