Friday, September 29, 2017

Mt. Houghton Trail

Lichen patchwork dressing a rock on the top of Mt. Houghton, Nevada

Mt. Houghton Trail is a 0.75-mile-path—off the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)—to the top of Mt. Houghton in the Mt. Rose Wilderness, southwest of Reno, Nevada. With an elevation of 10,490 feet (3,197 m), Mt. Houghton is the second highest peak within the wilderness, next to Mt. Rose with 10,776 feet (3,285 m). Like its sister peak, Mt. Houghton offers great panoramic views of the Lake Tahoe area. Typically, the trail to Mt. Houghton's top is much less crowded than the Mt. Rose Trail. The rock-strewn peak plateau is a great place for “lichen hunting.”  

On the top of Mt. Houghton

The one-way hiking distance from the Mt. Rose Summit Parking Area (often referred to as Mt. Rose Trailhead) to the top of Mt. Houghton is about five miles or more depending on which route you are going to chose. On a first time visit, I suggest the hikers-only TRT route via the Tamarack Peak Waterfall. The waterfall is located 2.4 miles northwest of the parking area. While the Mt. Rose Trail continues northward, you want to head westbound on the TRT, climbing uphill and around the north side of Tamarack Peak until you get to a trail intersection after 0.8 miles, where a trail post indicates both directions of the TRT. Follow the TRT that switchbacks up to the Relay Ridge for less than two miles—first through forest, then across open slopes with varying views of rock outcrops and cliffs. Once on the ridge, follow the short trail winding further up to Mt. Houghton. 

Mt. Houghton Trail
From Relay Ridge and Mt. Houghton Trail, you will have magnificent views of the Carson Range, including Mt. Rose, and many Sierra Peaks around Lake Tahoe. Looking north-northwest from Mt. Houghton's top, you can see Truckee, Donner Lake, Stampede Reservoir, Boca Reservoir and, on a very clear day, Sierra Buttes, Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta.

You may want to return along other trails to make your trip a lasso-round or a complete round trip. The map below shows alternate trails, including service roads, and distances.

Trails of the Mt. Rose-Relay Peak area

References and more to explore

[1] Emily Peltier: Mt. Houghton And Relay Peak Hike. Forever Adventuring, June 27, 2017. Web:
[2] Peakbagger: Mount Houghton, Nevada. Web: