Douglas County High Point Trip Report

East Peak (9,591 ft)

Date: June 19, 2002
Author: Edward Earl

There have been many conflicting rumors as to whether hiking is allowed in the Heavenly Valley ski area, which includes the peak. Because of this and because Heavenly Valley is so densely packed with condos, parking is scarce, and there are many signs warning of private parking, I was a bit concerned about access. I parked in the large lot by the Stagecoach Express chair lift and struck up a conversation with a Heavenly Valley employee by the deserted ski building nearby. He said I was welcome to park in the lot (signs to the contrary probably apply only when the ski area is operating) and that there was a trailhead right by the Stagecoach lift. Sure enough a sign proclaimed the trail as the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), which was covered with footprints and mountain bike tracks.

I headed up the trail to where it split. The left branch was signed as the TRT; the right branch was unsigned. I wasn't sure if the TRT would continue where I wanted to go, so I went right, headed up a ski slope, and joined a road at a saddle at 8200 feet. A sign here once again proclaimed the TRT. I headed left, climbing gradually on the road, which was probably the one used by Scott Surgent to reach East Peak Lake, but I wasn't sure, and I was concerned about going too far left, so I went right where it split, climbed more ski slopes, and eventually found myself at the bottom of the Olympic chair lift at 8,700 feet.

The Olympic lift is the one that comes to within a stone's throw of the summit of East Peak, so I climbed the ski slope parallel to the lift to its upper terminus. A short and easy stretch of boulder scrambling, perhaps 60 feet of elevation gain, brought me to the summit.

I went down a very different way - first to East Peak Lake, then used the road below it to contour around to the TRT, which I took the rest of the way down.

Andy Martin types can take a gondola up from the California side to a saddle at about 9,280 ft and take marked tourist trails to the summit.

As far as access to this highpoint is concerned, the fact is that the peak and all routes to it are on the public lands of the Toiyabe National Forest. Anyone who says hiking is not allowed is either misinformed or doesn't understand the question (e.g., they think you're asking about the ski season, when hiking would be a problem, or that you're asking about an area that happens to be on adjoining private land). The area is thoroughly transsected by a number of hiking trails, including the TRT. The mountain is plastered all over with trails and roads, which are in turn plastered with footprints and mountain bike tracks. Hiking is but one of many forms of recreation allowed here.