Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From Heavenly to the East Lake Reservoir in the Carson Range, Nevada

An out-and-back hike to the East Lake Reservoir from Heavenly covers between 7 to 8 miles, of which over six miles are along the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). The hike begins with a climb (less than half a mile) to the single-track TRT.  A new TRT section goes westward, connecting with the Edgewood Creek and Van Sickle trails. To get to the East Lake Reservoir and beyond, you'll go east, take the switchbacks and then hike south between granite boulders and light as well as dense forest parts. The open forest sections feature displays of pinemat manzanita on the ground and views through the forest into Carson Valley and eventually towards Carson Range peaks such as Monument, Jobs Sister and Freel Peak, which all reach heights above 10,000 feet.

When you get to the point where the TRT continues on a dirt road, descending into Mott Canyon, you want to turn right on that ski area service road. Posted signs, warning about the danger of touching unexploded explosives (red or yellow devices) for snow avalanche control, will remind you that you are in an area with winter activities. A short ascent, more ski lifts and the small East Lake Reservoir should come into view between the trees. You can walk around the lake or explore further maintenance roads of the area. At the lake you'll pass the Dipper Express and Comet Express ski lift stations, large information boards with a winter landscape map & facilities and the East Peak Lodge and East Peak Grill, build half-way into the reservoir. Closed, of course, during the hiking season: you are depending on the drinks and food you brought with you.

Getting there
The trailhead for this trip is variously referred to as Kingsbury Grade South or Daggett Pass South. You are getting there from State Route 207 (known as Kingsbury Grade) between Stateline/South Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley. At the pass, turn south onto Tramway Drive, which becomes a narrow one-way road winding through the Heavenly Resort. Eventually, you arrive at a sharp turn and find yourself driving north on Quaking Aspen Lane. There, you should see the Stagecoach Express ski lift to your right. Park nearby. At the wall on the right side of the lift facility is a small box with handouts for the TRT section Kingsbury South to Big Meadow, made available by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association (www.tahoerimtrail.org).You are ready to climb up the creek.

Notes, references and updates
[1] See the description of  the trail between the Stagecoach Express ski lift in Heavenly to the saddle near Peak 8611, given by Mike White in  Trip 10Chapter 6,  in his Reno-Tahoe hiking guide Afoot & Afield, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, California, 2006. 
[2]  See a similar description in section five of Tim Hauserman's guide The Tahoe Rim Trail, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, California, 2004 (fifth printing).
[3] Trail Information - Kingsbury Grade to Big Meadows - 23.1 Miles: www.tahoerimtrail.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=177&Itemid=210.

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