Distance: 7.0 miles out and back. Duration: A few hours or overnight camping. Elevation gain: 2,735ft (from 6,500 - 9,235ft). Amazing views. Permit required.

Starting at the lower lot it's less than a mile to access the trail. The hike starts off in shade through a lot of red fir forest and continues at a steady upward route. Approximately 45 mins into the hike you'll come across a sign that says you are entering desolation wilderness. The forest will gradually recede as the trail takes you to higher elevation with views of Lovers Leap and Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort. Once you have reached approximately two thirds of the way up, the evergreens clear up to rocky terrain and grasses. The trail becomes less visible at this point, but you should be able to see the summit of the mountain to keep you in route ( the trail is even less visible during the winter months where snow tends to blanket the trails towards higher elevation ).

The views from atop the summit of Mt. Ralston are astonishing and definitely worth the effort of the steep hike. Desolation Wilderness, Echo lake, Mount Tallac, and Lake Tahoe are all within eyesight. Make sure to prepare for this hike with the precaution of weather variables. Temperatures can switch substantially do to the elevation change. Permits are free for daily use but should be obtained before heading into Desolation Wilderness.

Once you are done, hop over to the Strawberry Lodge (Kyburz CA.) for a Tuscan Chicken sandwich (Grilled chicken with roasted Red Pepper, bacon, Romaine lettuce, and pesto aioli) and some house cut french fries or chips.

For the location of this hike google these coordinates: 38.803861,-120.117389

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Plenty of water
  • Trekking poles
  • Layered clothing
  • Camera - Tripod
  • Snow shoes (depending on season)
  • Tent, sleeping bag, etc., for overnight stay
  • Daily permit
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RT Distance 7 Miles
Elevation Gain 2375 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great views and a nice workout

I've never done this in the winter, but it's on my to-do list for backcountry ski trips. However, it makes for a great summer hike to get in some good elevation gain. The views from the top let you see right into the heart of Desolation Wilderness, you can see south all the way to Ebbet's Pass and you can see parts of Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. Overall a great peak to summit in the Tahoe area.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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