Third Creek


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 5.7 miles round trip
8850 feet
+850, -850 round trip
Navigation Road and map
Time Half day
Season December through April
Snowmobiles Not permitted on first mile of road and on south side of Highway 431. Low on remainder of road. High on descent down Third Creek. [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Mount Rose
Start Highway 431, 7.8 miles northeast of Highway 28 and 0.3 mile southwest of Mt. Rose Summit. A building and snow-covered road are located on the north side of the highway. Parking is limited; as an alternative start the tour at the parking area located 0.4 mile to the west.


This loop combines an assortment of terrain. It begins along a snow-covered road that offers panoramas to the south. From the saddle that separates Third Creek and Galena Creek you pick your way down the Third Creek drainage until you reach the highway. Finally you climb gently, but steadily, back to the starting point.

View of Tahoe Meadows from Relay Road
Tahoe Meadows and Lake Tahoe from near start of tour
Image of Lake Tahoe from road
Lake Tahoe from road

Be aware that the once mellow descent down Third Creek is now regularly interrupted by the roar of snowmobiles. Immediately after or during a mid-week storm is therefore the best time to enjoy this tour.

This tour can easily be combined with a tour into the headwaters of Galena Creek or to Relay Ridge.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 2.4
Elevation change: +550 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski west on the snow-covered road, which gradually turns north up the Third Creek drainage, for a total of 2.4 miles until you reach a saddle (2) and the highest point of the tour. The saddle separates Third Creek from the Galena Creek drainage.

Miles: 2.4 - 4.0
Elevation change: -850 feet

Descend south along Third Creek for 1.6 miles until you reach a location where the terrain ahead drops only gradually (3).

Miles: 4.0 - 4.7
Elevation change: Nil

Turn east (left) and traverse 0.7 mile until you reach the highway (4).

Miles:4.7 - 5.7
Elevation change: +300 feet

Cross to the southeast side of the highway and then ski northeast and gradually uphill paralleling the highway for 1.0 mile until you reach 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