Benwood Meadow


Difficulty 1 Beginner
Length 0.8 mile round trip for Rock Garden Loop
1.7 miles round trip for Frog Pond Loop
7400 feet
+100, -100 feet for Rock Garden Loop
+200, -200 feet for Frog Pond Loop
Navigation Marked trail
Time Short to several hours
Season December through April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Echo Lake
Start Adventure Mountain located on the south side of Highway 50, 0.2 mile west of the Echo Summit Maintenance Station. This is the site of the now defunct Echo Summit Sno-Park. A fee is charged to park here.


The two secluded loops, located between the commercial snow-play area at Adventure Mountain where you park and Benwood Meadow, are an excellent place for beginners to try cross-country skiing in the backcountry. Part of the charm of these tours is that they meander through woods. This also means that you need to look for each successive marker.

The Rock Garden Loop is only 0.8 mile long while the Frog Pond Loop is a 1.7 miles long. On the Frog Pond Loop, and only 0.1 mile off the shorter Rock Garden Loop, is a vantage point from which you look down into Christmas Valley, the bottom end of the Upper Truckee River drainage and the highway over Luther Pass. Look north down the valley for a glimpse of the south end of Lake Tahoe.

Intermediate skiers can extend the tour by following the drainage that feeds Benwood Meadow to a higher meadow. That tour is described in the Benwood Meadow Drainage tour.

The loops described here were first marked in 1994 by volunteers of the Nordic Voice, the predecessor of Snowlands Network, and have been maintained by the Eldorado Nordic Ski Patrol since then. In October 2008, the ski patrol and Snowlands Network jointly overhauled the trail markers and added new signs.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.4
Elevation change: +100 feet

Locate the trailhead (1) about 200 feet behind the two buildings and under the powerlines. A sign is located on one of the poles. These buildings were once a part of Echo Summit Ski Area. Follow the marked trail east under the powerlines for about 300 yards and then turn south and follow the trail for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach a trail junction (2). Be aware that early and late in the season you might encounter brush in the first 200 feet. Persevere and you will be rewarded with much better conditions on the remainder of the trail.

To Complete the Rock Garden Loop

Miles: 0.4 - 0.5
Elevation change: Nil

To complete the Rock Garden Loop, from the trail junction (2) follow the marked trail west (right) for 0.1 mile until you reach a trail junction (5).

Miles: 0.5 - 0.8
Elevation change: -100 feet

Turn north (right) and follow the combined Frog Pond and Rock Garden loops trail for 0.3 mile until you reach the trailhead (1).

To Complete the Frog Pond Loop

Miles: 0.4 - 0.5
Elevation change: Nil

Turn southeast (left) at the trail junction (2) and follow the marked trail southeast for 0.1 until you reach a location adjacent to an abrupt drop off (3). Be sure to stop and take a look down into the valley and north at Lake Tahoe.

Miles: 0.5 - 1.0
Elevation change: +50, -50 feet

Follow the marked trail as it snakes through the trees to the southwest to Benwood Meadow and then north for a total of 0.5 mile until you reach a trail junction (4). After entering the meadow you ski a very short distance along the north edge of it until you enter the trees and shortly come to the trail junction. At the junction, the trail to the south (left) leads to an upper meadow in the Benwood Meadow Drainage.

Miles: 1.0 - 1.3
Elevation change: +50, -50 feet

Follow the marked trail north (right) for 0.3 mile until you reach a trail junction (5). The Rock Garden Loop is to the east (right) and the combined Rock Garden and Frog Pond loops continue north (straight).

Miles: 1.3 - 1.7
Elevation change: -100 feet

Ski north on the combined Frog Pond and Rock Garden loops for 0.4 mile until you reach the trailhead (1).

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