This was the second time I hiked the segment of the Tahoe Rim Trail between Martis Peak Road and Mud Lake. The first time had been 3 years ago, in August 2009, and I remembered panoramic views of Lake Tahoe which made this one of my favorite TRT segments. What I didn’t remember – surprisingly – was that the panoramic views are almost non-stop for nearly 4 miles along the trail. What a treat to experience this again!
The route passes through the Tahoe National Forest and the Mount Rose Wilderness. I accessed the trail by driving up Martis Peak Rd, a forest road that takes off from CA-267 about 0.5 mile north of Brockway Summit (toward Northstar). If you drive up this road about 4 miles, where the paved road turns left for the final climb to the Martis Peak lookout tower, just go straight ahead on the unpaved road for less than 0.1 mile and park. This makes Mud Lake accessible as a single-day out-and-back hike of about 13½ miles.
The location where I parked is at the top end of a short spur trail that could be considered a short-cut from the Tahoe Rim Trail (coming up from Brockway Summit) to the lookout tower. This spur trail intersects the unpaved road about 0.1 mile west of the TRT junction with the road. From my parking spot I had a nice glimpse of Lake Tahoe, which was really just a preview of what I would see later in my hike.
This section of the TRT goes generally east-west across the north end of Lake Tahoe. The perspective of Lake Tahoe changes quite a bit in the course of this section of trail, which traverses nearly halfway across the north end of the lake.
The first half of the outbound hike is fairly steady climbing to get above 9000 feet elevation, with the remainder of the distance mainly in the 9000-9500 foot elevation range.
The first part of the hike passes through a pretty forested area; at higher elevations the trail is more exposed.
About 2.6 miles from the trailhead and half the elevation gain achieved, there was a nice view down the West shore of Lake Tahoe toward the peaks of the Desolation Wilderness, including Dollar Point and Sugar Pine Point extending out into the lake.
About 0.6 mile further, not far from the Nevada-California state line (not marked!!) and the Mount Rose Wilderness boundary (signed) there were clear views “inland” to the northwest. Donner Lake and I-80 were visible, nearly 15 miles away. I think the peak at the upper right of this picture is Hawk’s Peak in Tahoe Donner.
A bit toward the north Boca and Stampede Reservoirs can be seen, about 10 and 15 miles away, respectively.
An interesting cloud appeared to hover over Rose Knob as I approached.
About 1.6 miles past the West shore view, the vantage point was clearly different, more like directly down the centerline of Lake Tahoe, with Stateline Point in the foreground.
In addition to the breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, there were other things to see from a closer perspective. For example, I found several down trees with an interesting spiral texture.
About 5.7 miles from the trailhead there is a junction, with a side trail that leads to Gray Lake; the trails rejoin about 1 mile later after traversing opposite sides of Rose Knob Peak. I took the main TRT trail on the lake side of Rose Knob Peak. The junction where the trails rejoin overlooks Mud Lake and was my turnaround point.
Of course, the panoramic views of Lake Tahoe are due to the design of the trail and its relationship to the terrain, as illustrated in this picture. It’s very important to pay attention to the trail, and stop occasionally – or often! – to safely enjoy the view.
On the lake view side of Rose Knob Peak there are nice views toward the east side of Lake Tahoe, along the Carson Range. CA-28 can be seen hugging the lake shore.
The panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, from notably different perspectives, as well as wonderful views away from the lake, make this a quintessential Tahoe Rim Trail hike.