Verdi Peak Trail – lower portion


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For a few years now I’ve been intrigued by the Verdi Peak Trail in the North Tahoe area.  It’s a featured mountain bike ride on Tahoe Basin recreational trail maps, and it climbs from ~5600 feet at Boca Reservoir to a lookout tower on Verdi Peak at 8444 feet elevation.  The round-trip distance is 27 miles, and the views from the top are said to be fantastic.  I think my fascination is rooted in a love to climb – whether to the high point on a trail or to the top of a tower or cathedral – and an appreciation of views, especially panoramic views, of beautiful scenery.

I decided to try hiking the lower section as kind of an exploration.  I was aware that there had been several inches of spring snowfall 3 days earlier, and that it was very early in the hiking season following a phenomenal snow season.  I set out to cover 8-10 miles round trip.  I decided to turn around when the first of the following occurred: I’d gone ~4.5 miles or ~1:45 hours, reached the 7000 foot elevation, or encountered too much snow on the trail to continue.  And I would try to find an easily identifiable landmark to use as my turnaround point.  I was also acutely aware that more snow was forecast for later in the day, and I wanted to make sure I was off the trail in plenty of time.

I carried my hiking poles, though it turned out that I only used them for balance when traversing a couple of very short snow areas that covered the trail.  My rule of thumb with snow on the trail is that, if I can see the trail emerge at the other side of the snow, I’ll continue.  Otherwise I’m likely to get off-trail, which I generally don’t intend, so I turn around.

This trail is really like an unimproved road, rather than a single-track type of trail.  The hike was technically straightforward, though I determined that I cannot drive partway up to have a higher starting point for a future hike.  In any case, a couple of miles up the trail, approaching an intersection with an OHV trail, I was startled see what looked like the shell top of a pickup conversion.  At first I thought the vehicle must be in a depression.  And why was there a rock on top of it?  I soon realized that it was just the shell top – though its purpose for being there remains a mystery.

photo of camper shell trailside

Camper shell trailside

As I continued up the trail I was passed by a couple of dirt bikes, which returned traveling downhill only a few minutes later.  I soon encountered the first small snow pile crossing the trail and surmised that they had turned around there.  This snow pile was only a few yards long so it was easy for me to cross and continue.  It turned out that I achieved my turnaround criteria almost simultaneously, as I crested a steady climb that eased going around a curve with a distinctive rock pile at the side of the trail.  (I had passed 7000 feet during this climb.)  As I rounded the curve I had a great view of Verdi Peak, and shortly after that there was a long snow field covering the trail.

photo of Verdi Peak

Verdi Peak

photo of snow covering the trail ahead

Snow covering the trail ahead

Shortly after I started back down there were nice views both of Stampede Reservoir and of Boca Reservoir with Northstar ski runs in the background.

photo of Boca Reservoir with Northstar in the background

Boca Reservoir with Northstar in the background

I made it back to my car without incident, but shortly thereafter it started to snow lightly – about an hour and a half sooner than the weather forecast – and a reminder of how finicky mountain weather can be.  On my way home I took care of a couple of errands, since the snow was light and was not sticking to the roads at all.  By the time I got home there was a little accumulation on the ground, and I was struck by my neighbor’s daffodils.  They seemed to be bowing their heads as if to pray for no more snow this season!  Within a few hours about 6 inches of snow had fallen.

photo of praying for no more snow?!

Praying for no more snow?!


This entry was posted in North Tahoe, Tahoe National Forest and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Verdi Peak Trail – lower portion

  1. debbie says:

    The rule about traversing snow is excellent and I love the image of daffodils bowing. I agree this crazy weather must end.

  2. Lovely poetic thought and image that perfectly captures the mood about all this extra rain/snow. Great post!

  3. Pingback: Verdi Peak Trail | trailhiker

  4. arthur says:

    that is too funny. went up that trail this morning on my bike and saw that same camper shell. it hasn’t been moved

  5. Pingback: Jones Whites Creek Loop | trailhiker

  6. Pingback: Lower Verdi Peak Trail revisited | trailhiker

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