Douglas County High Point Trip Report

East Peak (9,591 ft)

Date: September 5, 2003
Author: Peter Maurer

Although the views from East Peak are spectacular (of Lake Tahoe on one side, the Carson Valley on the other), getting there is not one of the more enjoyable hikes in the Tahoe area. Several routes are available to the trail head through the residential and resort development at the top of Kingsbury Grade. Once you've reached the parking lot for the Stagecoach ski lift (Nevada side of Heavenly Valley Resort) the trail head is right next to the lift. There is a small kiosk with maps available, since part of the route is on the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). Thanks to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association for the map and trail maintenance!

The entire route lies within Heavenly, and the number of routes are limitless, given all of the ski trails and lift routes crisscrossing the terrain. Start off on the TRT which follows up a steep ski run, then veers off to the east through the woods. For those in less of a hurry, I recommend staying on the TRT, at least until it meets back up with one of the service roads. I chose instead to continue up the ski slope due south. That met up with another service road. Just past where it reconnected briefly with the TRT, there is a fork, not shown, or at least not accurately, on the USGS quad sheet or the TRTA map. I took the right fork, which led me around a point then steeply up another ski slope. This topped out temporarily at the base of the Olympic Downhill lift. From there it was a steep grind straight up the downhill run, which tops out just below the summit.

There are several lift and ski patrol buildings, and some new construction (all rather unsightly without snow covering all of the scars. I found it best to swing around to the south of the large road cuts to scramble up the boulders to the summit. The ubiquitous communications tower was there (at least it's relatively small, and provided me assurance that I was at the right peak) along with a bench mark. So far, I had not seen another person. The ascent took just over an hour. I saw no one on the hike, but once I started down, ran into several people who had taken the gondola up from South Tahoe.

I decided to rest my knee for the descent (knee surgery was barely over a month ago) so I took a series of switchbacks down towards the east, in the general direction of East Peak Lake, a small reservoir a mile east of the summit. The ski trails met a main service road half-way down and I followed that for a way. At one point I guessed on a wrong turn, and ended up at the top of the Stagecoach lift. Rather than backtracking, I went straight down, ending up near the point where I diverged form the main road on the way up. I picked up the TRT for the last mile or so, which was the most pleasant part of the hike.

Trip statistics: 2 1/2 hours total hiking time; 5 miles round trip; elevation gain 2,071 feet