Hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail starts from the south (far) edge of the Spooner Picnicking Rest Area. It first switchbacks briefly southward up slopes, then traverses westward to a switchback. Now, 1/2 mile into your hike, you begin a fairly direct route southward past white firs, Jeffrey pines and shrubs such as tobacco brush, chinquapin, and greenleaf manzanita. After gaining about 550 feet of elevation above your trailhead, you traverse a volcanic flat to shortly reach your first vista trail. This short route initially climbs northeast, then heads to the south end of summit 7811, from where you have a fair view east toward desert lands, a better one west toward Desolation Wilderness lands above the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe.
Back on the TRT, you are now sufficiently high that greenleaf manzanitas have been replaced with pinemat manzanitas and firs with red firs. About 1/2 mile past the first vista trail, and just past an ascent through an extensive field of mule ears, you momentarily top out at a minor 7800' volcanic summit from which you have good views of the north and west shores of Lake Tahoe. You then soon curve east and make a fairly level traverse over to a road that crosses a low, broad saddle with a nice view north toward Snow Valley Peak. About 40 yards southeast, the TRT crosses the road's east spur, then turns south to traverse along the lower slopes of Duane Bliss Peak. In about 0.4 mile you reach an abandoned road, which, if you were to follow it southeast over a low saddle, would in 1/4 mile reach a lodgepole-fringed meadow with a nearby pond. In spring it has water, and then this spot is suitable for camping.
Ahead the TRT climbs 0.4 mile-south to the second vista trail, which in about a minute's walk takes you to summit 8120. This offers a view east down Water Canyon to the Carson Valley, plus nice ones north along the crest of the Carson Range and northwest across Lake Tahoe.
Just west past this second vista trail, you pass the 5k mark along the north slope of a minor knoll joggers on a 10k run turn around here. Beyond it we drop briefly to a saddle crossed by Genoa Peak Road 14N32. Now you begin an 800-foot ascent to the summit of South Camp Peak. You should be high enough to get Lake Tahoe views, but trees usually obscure the views. As you climb higher through a red fir/western white pine forest, you start to see mountain hemlocks, which become quite common by the time you start a westward climb, after 11/3 miles of ascent. In 1/4 mile you reach the northwest edge of South Camp Peak, and have your best lake views so far. But save the film, for by walking about 100 yards southeast up the trail, you get even better views. The features seen from it are described in the previous route, and you see them several times more as you continue up to an andesite outcrop immediately west of the trail near the 8818' summit of South Camp Peak.
Ahead, you're following the previous hike in reverse, descending 1/2 mile south almost to a lateral trail to Road 14N32. This short trail goes about 50 yards southeast to a spot where the road crosses a broad saddle. Just 40 yards south on the road you will find the start of a jeep road, which climbs southeast to 9150' Genoa Peak. This is the only one along your hike that provides a truly 360-degree view: east to desert lands, west to Lake Tahoe, and north and south along the Carson Range.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication