The Tahoe Rim Trail

Brockway Summit to Tahoe Meadows (18.9 miles)
By Tim Hauserman
Mount Rose
Mount Rose from the road next to (Photo © Tim Hauserman)

Excerpted from The Tahoe Rim Trail by Tim Hauserman

With much of this section of the trail rising above 9,000 feet and some of it over 10,000 feet in elevation, it is relatively strenuous, especially considering you start at around 7,000 feet. If you are day-hiking this section, it might be easier to begin from the Tahoe Meadows side and hike to Brockway Summit, where your starting elevation would be approximately 8,800 feet. As they say, 1,800 feet here and 1,800 feet there and eventually you are talking about some real elevation gain.

Best Seasons
The entire trail can be hiked between late July and mid-October. The first 5 miles from the Brockway end can be hiked as early as June, but most of the trail is not free of snow until mid-July. The highest sections of the trail are among the first places to be covered with snow in the fall.

The middle part of this trail section is mostly exposed, south-facing volcanic slopes with sandy soils. This wide expanse at a high altitude features tremendous panoramic views of the lake and a wonderful feeling of remoteness. Two small lakes are found on the trail, or close to it: small Mud Lake and Gray Lake, a prettier, knee-deep lake that is 0.5 mile off the Rim Trail via an access trail.

Heads Up!
Since much of this hike is at high altitude, the air is quite thin, which can cause problems for those unaccustomed to high altitudes. If you feel faint, it may be due to reduced oxygen levels rather than the beauty of the views. Much of the trail is exposed to cold and wind, or to the hot sun. The first 5 miles can be tedious; the last 4 miles are on a dirt road; but the middle 10 miles are a wonderful high-altitude experience. Though water can be collected from several seasonal streams, and from Gray Lake and usually from Mud Lake, the supply is severely limited. A small seasonal spring exists about 50 feet below where the TRT meets the old Western States Trail (now abandoned) after Mud Lake. Gray Lake is about 0.5 mile downhill from a saddle just past Mud Lake, and Mud Lake itself lives up to its name by becoming a mud puddle by late summer. About 2.5 miles from the end of the trail, you'll find a small pond (known as both Snow Pond and Frog Pond) across from the trail to Mount Rose.

Tips for Mountain Bikers
If you are looking for a good section of the Tahoe Rim Trail to ride, this is probably not the one to choose. Please do not ride in the portion of this trail that does not allow bikes! The soil is quite fragile and easily damaged.

From the Brockway Summit side, bikes are allowed for the first 7.6 miles. It begins with a steady and sometimes steep climb of 4.3 miles to a major gravel road. From here you can take a left turn and head back to the highway on the road. On the way back to the highway, you will pass Martis Peak Road which will take you up to the Martis Peak Fire Lookout, with spectacular views to the north. Back on the TRT you could turn right and ride another mile, but it gets quite steep and technical and may not be worth the effort.

From the Mount Rose/Tahoe Meadows end of this section of the TRT, the first 4 miles are open to bike riders, but it is all on a rocky dirt road that gets quite steep near the top. You will come to a radio tower. Here you must turn around and bounce back down the road to the highway.

Getting There

Brockway to Mount Rose Highway (Tahoe Meadows)
From the intersection of Highway 28 and Highway 267 in Kings Beach, drive 2.75 miles northwest up Highway 267 toward Brockway Summit to the Tahoe Rim Trail trailhead. At this point, you will see a parking pullout on the left and a steep dirt road on the right (Forest Service Road 16N56). Park on either side but this trailhead is on the right, or uphill side. If you reach Brockway Summit at the top of the hill you have gone 0.5 mile too far.

Mount Rose Highway (to Brockway Summit)
Take Highway 431 (Mount Rose Highway) to Tahoe Meadows, then on to a closed, gated road branching left just before Mount Rose Summit. This road is on the uphill side of Highway 431. You'll see a small building at 7.7 miles from the intersection of Highway 28 and 431 in Incline Village. Park alongside the road, or downhill 0.4 mile at the Tahoe Meadows trailhead parking area. The trail route is on the dirt road behind the gate and a trailhead sign. From Reno, this trailhead is found about 0.3 mile after the highway tops Mount Rose Summit.

Article © Wilderness Press. All rights reserved.


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