For this hike I had a somewhat ambitious plan. The main objective was to hike to Marlette Lake, hoping that the famous fall colors would be near their peak. A Tahoe area hiking group that I sometimes hike with had hiked a similar route about a week earlier, and the hike leader reported that it was still a little early for the aspens around the lake shore. The group had hiked north on the Tahoe Rim Trail from Spooner Summit to a dirt road just below Snow Valley Peak, then down the road to the North Canyon Trail, backtracking to Marlette Lake and returning to the trailhead via the North Canyon Trail. My plan was to hike farther north, to Hobart Road, and down Hobart Road (or its extension), which skirts the east shore of Marlette Lake, eventually picking up the North Canyon Trail to finish the loop. There was so much remarkable scenery that I decided to split the day’s hike into two postings. This first one covers the segment of the Tahoe Rim Trail from Spooner Summit to Hobart Road, a segment that is in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
I should note that I did not have a way to do a car shuttle, and the TRT trailhead parking area was full. So I decided to park at a small parking area next to US-50 just east of the intersection with NV-28 and begin my loop by walking along the shoulder of US-50 about 0.7 mile to the TRT trailhead. There may be a way to get there on a trail rather than the shoulder of the highway, but I did not find a trail. In any case, an overview of the route is in the GPS track.
The weather was perfect for a fairly long hike, with clear skies, abundant sunshine, and pleasant temperatures. The Tahoe Rim Trail section was constructed with a very reasonable average grade of around 6%, with a gain of nearly 2000 feet in just over 6 miles. The trail is very well maintained and passes through lovely open forested areas.
Sometimes I am amazed at the layout of the Tahoe Rim Trail. As the trail climbs from Spooner Summit in the Carson Range it is easy to forget that this area is the very eastern part of the Sierras, and there is a relatively sharp drop-off to the valley floor at an elevation of around 4500 feet. In several locations, almost all of a sudden, a spectacular view of the valley floor appears. Here is an example, looking out from about 8200 feet elevation at Carson City, Nevada, nearly 4000 feet lower, down North Kings Canyon. It was breathtaking, and I am convinced that the TRT was laid out specifically to include such wonderful views.
I was hoping to have sufficient time and energy to make a side trip to the top of Snow Valley Peak. As it turns out, the side trip is only about 0.7 mile (round trip) with about 250 feet of climbing. As seen in the elevation profile, the climb to the top really isn’t much steeper than the rest of the climb from Spooner Summit.
As with most of the higher peaks in the area, there is a relay tower on the top. However, at 9200 feet elevation, the views of Lake Tahoe are panoramic and spectacular. I should note that most of the snow from the early-season storm a few weeks earlier was gone, especially from the relatively drier and exposed sections of trail.
Since my first hike in the high country above Marlette Lake a few years ago, I have been enchanted at the views of Marlette Lake in the foreground with Lake Tahoe in the background.
Marlette Lake is actually about 1600 feet higher than Lake Tahoe, and it seems to float in its own pocket within the Carson Range.
After the climb to Snow Valley Peak the trail descends to the Hobart Road junction, just under 10 hiking miles from my car. This hike continues in my next post.