Boreal Ridge From Clair Tappaan Lodge


Difficulty 2 Beginner-intermediate
Length 3.6 miles round trip
7000 feet
+650, -650 round trip
Navigation Road, groomed trail and map
Time Several hours
Season Late December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Low
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Norden
Start Clair Tappaan Lodge at Norden 2.5 miles east of I-80.


One of the nice things about staying at the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge at Norden is that you can ski out from the front door, but you don't have to stay at the lodge to ski here. The easiest tour is up the drainage past Lytton Lake and onto Boreal Ridge from which you have a dramatic view of Castle Peak to the north. Donner Lake to the east is particularly beautiful when it is ringed with snow. With a map and compass you can pick out Donner Peak, Mount Judah and Mount Lincoln to the southeast and south.

Image of Castle Peak.
Castle Peak
Image of Donner Lake. Donner Lake with twin summits of
Church Peak and Mount Rose at far left
in background
Image of Donner Peak, Mt. Judah and Mt. Lincoln.
Donner Peak, Mt. Judah and Mt. Lincoln
from left to right

The elevation change per mile for this tour is more in line with an intermediate tour, but it has been rated beginner-intermediate because nearly the entire route is usually groomed by a combination of Clair Tappaan Lodge and Boreal Ridge ski area, and the elevation gain is continuous and never steep except for the first 100 yards or so. But if the going gets beyond your comfort level you can always turn around and glide back to the comfort of the lodge.

You can extend this tour and visit three lakes, Azalea, Flora and Angela, by following the Lakes Loop From Clair Tappaan Lodge tour. However, that tour is considerably more difficult and requires considerably more skill in navigation.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.0
Elevation change: +300 feet

From the trailhead (1) outside the front door of Clair Tappaan Lodge ski north up a short hill and then gradually northeast for a total of 1.0 mile until you reach the bottom of two ski lifts (2) that are part of Boreal Ridge and Sierra Ski Ranch. Be careful, the first hill is used by sledders staying at Clair Tappaan.

Image of Boreal Ridge ski lift.
Bottom of Boreal Ridge ski lift

Miles: 1.0 - 1.2
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski east for 0.2 mile until you reach a saddle (3).

Miles: 1.2 - 1.6
Elevation change: +200 feet

Ski north and then northwest for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach the top of a Boreal Ridge ski lift (4).

Miles: 1.6 - 1.8
Elevation change: +50 feet

Turn northeast and ski to the broad but obvious high point on Boreal Ridge known as Peak 7666 (5). This section is not groomed.

As an alternative to the route described from the saddle (3) to Peak 7666 (5), you can forge your own route directly north from the saddle to the peak.

Miles: 1.8 - 3.6
Elevation change:
-650 feet

Retrace the route for 1.8 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour