Sunday, July 7, 2013

Slab Cliffs between Relay Peak and Mud Lake along TRT

Slab Cliffs

The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) section that is indicated as Slab Cliffs on the handout map “Brockway Summit to Mt. Rose Trailhead” is a scenic ridge with an open forest and interesting craggy rock structures. This area can be reached by hiking downhill from Relay Peak for about two miles. While following the well-graded switchbacks you will enjoy varying views of the Mt. Rose Wilderness. Looking south towards Lake Tahoe, you won't miss the north-facing slab slopes nearby. Once on the ridge of the Slab Cliffs, scenic vistas of little Ginny Lake and the Tahoe Meadows are coming up. The Slab Cliffs are rough terrain, but the trail across the ridge is easy and relaxing. It takes you to dramatic red and black volcanic rock formations, a spring and the junction from where the abandoned Western States Trail descends across private property to Incline Lake, the Tahoe Meadows Loop Trail System (including the Interpretive Loop Trail) and the Upper Ophir Creek Trailhead. The picture below shows a view in opposite direction over the Mt. Rose Wilderness and beyond into California and the landscapes east of Truckee.

View from Slab Cliffs ridge into Mt. Rose Wilderness

During summer and fall backpackers enjoy the campsites of Gray Lake between the Slab Cliffs and Rose Knob. This lake is accessible via a 0.5 mile sidetrip off the TRT using the old Western States Trail [1]. Mud lake, as you may guess by its name, gets quite small in summer or disappears altogether.

In case you didn't plan an overnight stay and want to return via Relay Ridge to your starting trailhead, a 800-foot climb takes you back—the same way you came—to the top of Relay Peak.

[1] Tim Hauserman: The Tahoe Rim Trail. Wilderness Press, Berkeley, California, Fifth printing March 2004; page 107.

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