Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tahoe Rim Trail: Relay Ridge and Relay Peak

TRT along Relay Ridge and Peak, northwest Nevada While many hikers climb Mt. Rose in the Carson Range for spectacular views of the Reno-Tahoe area, an ascend along the new section of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) to the top of Relay Peak can be as rewarding. On a clear day, the Mt. Rose Trail can be crowded and you'll never be alone on Mt. Rose. On Relay Peak, there is a good chance that you will be there just by yourself or share this magnificent vista point with your hiking partner or group only. Relay Peak (elevation of 10,335 feet) is almost as high as the Mt. Rose Summit (elevation of 10,778 feet).

TRT Relay Ridge and Relay PeakTo get onto Relay Peak, you want to leave the Mt. Rose Trail at the Tamarack Peak waterfall and follow the TRT. At the shown signpost—3.2 TRT miles away from Nevada's Mt. Rose Summit Trailhead along State Route 431 and 0.8 miles away from the waterfall—the TRT intersect with the dirt road section of the “old” loop trail around Tamarack Peak. From here, the recently opened, well-graded, two-mile-long ascend will take you into the Mt. Rose Wilderness west of the ridgeline with the AT&T relay microwave tower [1]:

While the top of the ridgeline provides an excellent location for receiving radio waves, it is unfortunate to see a large ugly tower in this incredibly beautiful location. Near the tower you reach a junction with a broad gravel road, which is still used by vehicles for administrative purposes.

In my opinion, the tower is not as ugly as that conglomerate of installations on Slide Mountain. However, the abandoned dirt road, leading to the tower and once “serving” as a TRT section, makes Tim Hauserman's past dissatisfaction with the hiking conditions between Frog Pond and the ridge (the 1.3 mi section) understandable. He wrote [1]:

I hope that eventually the Tahoe Rim Trail Association will be able to replace this long journey on a utility road with a trail. With the beautiful terrain in this bowl, a well-developed trail which switchbacks its way up to Relay Peak would be impressive.

His vision has finally come through. Now hikers may use the new 2.2 mi TRT section. Mountain bikers and horseback riders are not allowed and still need to travel the broad gravel road. The TRT route is an even longer journey, but along a large, scenic switchback, getting you close to Mt. Houghton in the north and then south to Relay Peak. Impressive, indeed!

Along the ridge, the single-track TRT skirts the relay tower on the west side: the top picture shows the trail, tower and Relay Peak in the background. The picture below shows the final ascend to Relay Peak. Along the ridge and on the peak, hikers have views of surrounding peaks, including Mt. Houghton, Mt. Rose, Slide Mountain and Rose Knob. Lake Tahoe is to the south. In northwest direction one is able to scan a large part of the Mt. Wilderness and see Truckee, Donner Lake and Castle Peak in the distance.

Keywords: trail planning, TRT, vista points, Relay Ridge.

[1] Tim Hauserman: The Tahoe Rim Trail. Wilderness Press, Berkeley, California, Fifth printing March 2004; page 110.

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