The Tahoe Rim Trail

Spooner Summit to Kingsbury Grade (13 miles)
By Tim Hauserman
Genoa Peak
Genoa Peak from South Camp Peak (Photo © Tim Hauserman)

Excerpted from The Tahoe Rim Trail by Tim Hauserman

Moderately difficult. There is a steady climb of about 1600 feet in the first five miles, and a wonderful almost level mile in the middle, filled with views. Then the trail is mostly downhill. The starting elevation is 7150 feet, and the ending elevation is 7780 feet, with the high point just a little below the top of South Camp Peak (8866 feet). This is the easiest section of the Tahoe Rim Trail to hike, particularly in the opposite direction, with just over 1000 feet of elevation gain.

Best Seasons
Early June to late October. As on most of the east shore, the snow melts faster here than on the west shore. There are several heavily forested north-facing sections that may retain snow until late June, but in most areas the snow melts by late May.

The biggest highlight of this section is the spectacular view of most of Lake Tahoe, and the west shore, from South Camp Peak. This unobstructed view looks directly up the entrance of Emerald Bay to the mountains of Desolation Wilderness. At South Camp Peak you will find lots of rocks to sit on, and even a wood bench that some kind trail builder provided. This could be the perfect TRT lunch spot, especially since it is about halfway between Spooner Summit and the Kingsbury trailhead. Making South Camp Peak your turn-around point for an out-and-back hike or ride makes good sense whether you are starting from the Spooner Summit trailhead or from Kingsbury Grade.

Heads Up!
Water is not readily available on this section of trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water for yourself and your pets. If you are thru-hiking be sure to fill your water containers at Spooner Lake before you reach the trailhead. While South Camp Peak itself might make a good camping spot, the lack of water makes this hike best for dayhikes. Much of the trail is open and exposed to the sun so be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen. If you are hiking, watch out for mountain bikers, because this is a popular biking trail. If you are biking, watch out for hikers, because it's also popular with hikers. Both groups should watch out for horses.

Tips for Mountain Bikers
Mountain bikes are allowed on this entire section. This ride can be completed from either direction, with the impressive views of South Camp Peak in the middle making a good location for a break. The section from Spooner to South Camp Peak is a great ride. It is an easy-to-moderate climb most of the way on smooth and sandy trails. If you get to the top and turn around, the downhill is a thrill, fun but not too difficult. The section from South Camp Peak to Kingsbury is more technical due to rocky steps and challenging terrain.

Getting There

Spooner Summit to Kingsbury
From the "Y" in Tahoe City drive 27 miles east on Highway 28 past Incline Village to the top of Spooner Summit, where Highway 28 meets Highway 50. Turn left on Highway 50 and drive 0.7 mile to the trailhead parking lot on the right, which has room for 20 cars. Your Spooner-to-Kingsbury trailhead has a pit toilet and several picnic tables in a nice setting under a grove of aspen trees. The trailhead is about 14 miles northeast of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. Directly across Highway 50 is the Spooner-to-Highway 431 trailhead.

Kingsbury to Spooner Summit
From Highway 50 at Stateline, Nevada drive 2.9 miles up (east) Highway 207 (Kingsbury Grade) and turn left on North Benjamin Drive. (This is 0.3 miles before the top of Daggett Pass). North Benjamin becomes Andria Drive, and you go a total of 1.9 miles from the highway to the end of the pavement and a trailhead with the Tahoe Rim Trail sign on your left.

Article © Wilderness Press. All rights reserved.


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