Tamarack Peak Direct


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 3.6 miles round trip
8850 feet
+1100, -1100 round trip
Navigation Road and map
Time Several hours
Season Late December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [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.


Tamarack Peak by this route, the most direct route, is one of the shortest and easiest significant peaks in the Lake Tahoe area to climb on skis. The climb and likewise the decent is modestly steep and therefore this tour could be rated advanced-intermediate. However, the tour is rated intermediate because the climb is less than one mile long, the total length of the tour is less than four miles round trip, and the gradient is uniform. In short, it is an excellent objective for an intermediate skier looking to do a peak climb. In the worse scenario there is lots of room to cut switchbacks on the decent.

Best of all, the descent is south-facing and the snow turns to corn quickly. Also the trees are scattered, which makes for fun turning through them as you descend. All 850 feet down can be perfect if you time this tour just right. But don't go here when it has been windy; without any protection from westerlies the slopes become icy just as quickly.

From the route up and down, as well as obviously from the summit of Tamarack Peak, the views are superb. To the south and southwest are Tahoe Meadows, Lake Tahoe and the ridges above Ginny Lake.

Image of Tahoe Meadow and Lake Tahoe
Tahoe Meadows and Lake Tahoe from the road to Relay Ridge

Image of Lake Tahoe far left; Ginny Lake area and Slab Cliffs far right
Lake Tahoe far left; Ginny Lake area and Slab Cliffs far right

To the west is Relay Ridge, the border of the Mount Rose Wilderness, and to the north is Mount Rose, the highest peak in the greater Lake Tahoe area at 10,776 feet. But don't be surprised if the face of Mount Rose is barren.

Image of Relay Ridge
Relay Ridge
Image of Mount Rose
Mount Rose

Finally to the east is Washoe Valley far below.

Image of Washoe Valley
Washoe Valley

The section of the tour along the road to Relay Ridge is heavily used. Don't be discouraged; you will probably be blazing your own trail once you leave it and begin to climb. You may also find lots of tracks on the summit. These come from the telemark skiers, AT skiers and boarders who ascend a different route for the opportunity to ski down one of the steep routes on the northeast side of the peak.

You can also make the ascent of Tamarack Peak more adventurous by following the Tamarack Peak Traverse tour to the summit. It does exactly that; it ascends the peak's northwest ridge to the summit before descending on the direct route described here.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.0
Elevation change: +250 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski west on the snow-covered road for 1.0 mile until the terrain to the north (right) looks good to ascend (2). There will be places before the one-mile mark where you can ascend, but the described tour starts at the one-mile mark, which is where the descent will intersect the road.

Image of building located at trailhead
Building at trailhead

Miles: 1.0 - 1.8
Elevation change: +850 feet

Ascend north for 0.4 mile and then slightly west of north for another 0.4 mile until you reach the summit of Tamarack Peak (3). The point where you veer to the west is about where the slopes to the northeast become steep.

Image of building located at trailhead
Lake Tahoe from Tamarack Peak

Miles: 1.8 - 3.6
Elevation change: -1100 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