Great Snowshoe Hikes in North Tahoe
|Rest up at Peter Grubb Hut|
The easy access and short distance to Peter Grubb Hut make this trip extremely popular with skiers and snowshoers alike. Chances are, due to the popularity of this trip, you will be able to follow a packed trail all the way into Round Valley. Staying overnight at the hut provides a comfortable way to explore some of the backcountry to the north, ensuring a degree of solitude that will almost certainly be lacking on the trip to the hut. On clear days you have excellent views of Castle Peak and the Donner Summit area from Castle Pass.
How to Get There
Just west of Donner Summit take the Castle Peak exit from Interstate 80. Follow signs to the Sno-Park at the east end of the frontage road immediately south of the freeway. To reach the trailhead you must walk back under the freeway to the north side of the westbound off-ramp.
After walking under the freeway to the westbound off-ramp, begin your hike by following a snow-covered road that climbs above the ramp. Quickly the road turns northwest into mixed forest, where a pair of signs direct snowmobiles to the left and self-powered travelers to the right. Soon the route along the road leads to the open meadow of Castle Valley. Excellent views of the west face of Castle Peak appear as you pass slightly above and west of the valley bottom on a mild grade. Unless your trip happens to occur in the middle of a snowstorm, you should be able to follow the tracks of previous snowshoe or ski parties, due to the high popularity of this trip. Otherwise, periodically placed blue markers will help guide you.
Leaving the meadow behind, you continue to ascend mildly up the valley through light-to-moderate forest cover. Near the head of the canyon the grade increases. At two and a quarter miles from the trailhead you stand on top of Castle Pass, where an excellent vista appears of the peaks and ski areas of the Donner Summit region. The ramparts of Castle Peak loom directly above, while the ski runs of Northstar, Boreal Ridge, and Sugar Bowl are clearly seen carpeting the nearby hills. Avoid the tendency to immediately descend from the pass, which leads to the snowmobile area. Instead, continue along the ridge northeast toward Castle Peak, following some old orange triangular signs marked SIERRA SKI WAY, CASTLE PEAK-NORDEN. Eventually the route leaves the ridge and makes a mild descent through light forest for a half mile to the edge of the hill overlooking beautiful Round Valley. Now descend more steeply to the edge of the valley and work your way over to Peter Grubb Hut.
The hut is a pleasant destination for a half-day outing, or a fine base camp for further explorations into the lonely territory to the north. The gentle, open slopes of Round Valley provide the perfect environment for skiers practicing their kick-and-glide technique.
Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Come in from the Cold
For respite from the cold, see Loch Leven Lakes.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication