This was the second time I hiked the Verdi Peak Trail, and I had an ambitious goal: hike to the top of Verdi Peak and back. According to a trail description on my Lake Tahoe Area trail map, the distance would be 27 miles, with over 3000 feet of climbing. Ambitious indeed!
This trail, as are many others, is within the Tahoe National Forest. On my previous hike I’d covered about 4.5 trail miles, gaining elevation from ~5650 feet at the Boca Reservoir trailhead to ~7200 feet at my turn-around point. I was hoping to find spectacular views from Verdi Peak. Though I didn’t realize it before I started out, there is a lookout tower on the peak – this is a reliable predictor of a 360 degree panorama.
As shown in the GPS track, the trail proceeds generally north for several miles before turning to the southeast to approach Verdi Peak. There is a narrow range of peaks, the Verdi Range, between Boca and Stampede Reservoirs and the Truckee River Valley, along which I-80 descends to Reno. The elevation profile shows that the trail mostly just climbs steadily. However, it loses and then regains about 500 feet crossing the Worn Mill Canyon.
Trail-finding is quite straightforward. The trail is actually an unimproved road all the way to the top. The lower portion is Forest Road 72 and the upper 3 miles or so is Verdi Peak Road. About 0.6 mile from the trailhead, take the forest road to the right, signed to Verdi Peak rather than to Boca Spring. After that, follow the so-called “main road,” with the other smaller roads considered to be side roads. Near Ladybug Peak, take the right fork to go to Verdi Peak. After about 4.25 hours of mostly climbing, it was exciting to approach the lookout tower.
As hoped, the panoramic views from the tower were wonderful. To the northeast, downtown Reno could be seen nearly 4000 feet below.
To the south, I-80 and the Truckee River descended down the canyon between the Verdi and Carson Ranges. This canyon is spectacular to drive, but there’s a quite different perspective, even more breath-taking, from the lookout tower.
The best vantage point for Stampede Reservoir was about 1.5 miles down the trail, directly overlooking the dam.
Toward the end of my descent I saw that the camper shell I’d noted in my earlier hike was still there – and still a mystery. And after 8.5 hours of hiking, I was glad to arrive at my car. The total hike distance was “only” a little over 22 miles.