Saddle Trail Loop


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 7.0 miles round trip
6000 feet
+1400, -1400 round trip
Navigation Road and map
Time Most of a day
Season Late December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Tahoe City
Start Highway 89 at the intersection with the Pole Creek road, 6.2 miles south of Interstate 80, 7.5 miles north of Tahoe City, and immediately south of Pole Creek.


The Saddle Trail Loop tour, originally marked by Big Chief Guides ski touring center (along ago defunct), combines touring on snow-covered roads with a short, wonderful ski along a broad ridge and a short descent through trees.

The tour begins by following the Bradley Hut tour for 1.9 miles. It then cuts off to make a 3.2-mile loop. It can easily be combined with the Silver Peak tour by those who want to experience both in a single day.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.9
Elevation change: +650 feet

From the trailhead (1) ascend generally east on the convoluted snow-covered road for 1.9 miles until you reach a road junction (2). The north (right) fork leads to Pole Creek and Bradley Hut. This tour follows the west (let) fork toward Silver Creek.

Miles: 1.9 - 2.0
Elevation change: +50 feet

Follow the west (left) fork and climb gradually for 0.1 mile until you reach a road junction (3). You may miss this junction if it is not already tracked, but at the end of this tour you will return on the road from the west (right).

Miles: 2.0 - 3.0
Elevation change: +300

Continue on the south (straight) fork, climbing gradually for 0.7 mile and then climbing at a steeper angle for 0.3 mile until you reach an obvious overlook point (4). The excellent views from the overlook include Silver Peak to the west.

Miles: 3.0 - 3.6
Elevation change: +250 feet

Continue on the road to the northwest for 0.6 mile until you reach an obscure fork in the road (5). You may see a sign that says "Saddle Trail" with an arrow to the right. The obscure road to the south (left) is part of the Silver Peak tour.

Miles: 3.6 - 3.8
Elevation change: +150 feet

Ski straight ahead (northwest) for a short distance and then veer north (right) for a total of 0.2 mile until you reach a broad saddle (6). It is possible to descend the gully on the north side of the saddle to Pole Creek. However, the gully which is broad and open at the top, narrows and is wooded near the bottom, and does not afford good skiing. Instead, this tour continues on the broad ridge to the northeast and north.

Miles: 3.8 - 4.0
Elevation change: -100 feet

Ski northeast and then north along a broad ridge for a total of 0.2 mile until you reach a large tree (7) a short distance before the end of the ridge. In days gone by there were two arrows on the tree — one pointing east (right) and another pointing toward the end of the ridge.

Miles: 4.0 - 4.2
Elevation change: -150 feet

Descend 0.1 mile until you reach the top of a clearing (8) to the northeast of the large tree (7). From the tree you can either turn east (right) and loop around, or ski a short distance to the end of the ridge and then turn east (right) and descend to the clearing.

Miles: 4.2 - 4.5
Elevation change: -150 feet

Ski northeast through the clearing for 0.3 mile until you reach a narrow road (9) that enters the trees. By staying on the south (right) side of the clearing as you approach the bottom you will funnel onto the road.

Miles: 4.5 - 5.0
Elevation change: -300 feet

Ski north and then east on the road for a total of 0.5 mile until you reach a road junction (3). The road you intersect is the road you followed to the saddle.

Miles: 5.0 - 7.0
Elevation change: -700 feet

Turn east (left) and retrace the route for 2.0 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
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