Hiking Ralston Peak will probably give you one of the most “WOW” moments you’ve ever had when reaching the peak. To be honest, I hadn’t heard much about it the several years I’ve lived in Tahoe. As many of the hikes however, it won’t leave you disappointed. The 360 degree is seriously breathtaking. There are several ways to hike to the peak. As it being my first time hiking Ralston Peak, I can tell you from Camp Sacramento its about 2,800 feet of vertical and about 7 miles round trip. You can pretty much hike from all angles into the peak. We met people on the peak coming from three different directions.
My pup, Jillian, and I left later than usual around 9:30 A.M. for this hike. It was a warm weekend day several weeks back. The hike started at Camp Sacramento. We parked in the lower parking lot. You can drive up less than half a mile on a rocky road, but to be honest, it doesn’t make much of a difference. If you start in the lower lot, it’s less than a mile to actually get into the trail. You’ll notice a sign and it’s easy to find and I grabbed my Granite Rocx Tahoe pack and we were off. The hike starts in shade through Red Fir forest. You’ll continue at a pretty steady up route for awhile. At one point you’ll come to a sign that says you’re entering Desolation Wilderness. Below are pictures.
After you pass the sign, continue up. You’ll come to a short flatter area that will open up where you can see Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort in full view to your right. Once you reach the end of the opening, continue up. As you continue on the trail, the next noticeable marker is where the trail either goes right or straight. If you go right, you’re looking at steeper, more direct route to Ralston Peak. I actually didn’t realize this and saw some others on the trail who told me to continue forward. So, Jill and I did. Below are more pictures.
As you continue forward, it really opens up and you are trekking on the side of the ridge with Ralston Peak on your right and Pyramid Peak in view on the left. We continued forward until we reached a dead end for us because of the snow. Here, there are some unreal views with Lake Aloha to your left. I looked at the GPS and knew Ralston Peak was up the hill to the right. Jill and I headed right, straight up the hill through some snow and re-connected to the trail. You can continue up and finally reach the ridge, where you’ll want to follow that. You’ll come to some sharp, granite rocks similar to those on Mt. Tallac. This is only a short section and the peak is just ahead of you. More pictures are below.
As we traveled back down, Jill was struggling a bit. She had enough water, but was starting to get a bit overheated. At one point she stopped, layed in the trail and didn’t move for anyone. Always take pre-cautions with the pups on the trail and make sure to have enough water and give them rest. Here’s a “kool” product, Kool Collars I came across that could be helpful to keep your dogs from overheating on the trail! Take a look at some pictures of her below on the way down.
To get there travel on Highway 50 towards the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe. At the “Y” make a left towards Meyers. Continue up over Echo Summit until you reach Camp Sacramento on the right and that’s where you can park for free.
This was an awesome hike! It gets you some exercise and shows you what Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe is all about. I would totally suggest this hike, but it can be difficult depending on your ability. Most of the initial hike is under shade, but bring lots of water. Here is our MyTracks. Last note, this is a popular sking/snowboarding backcountry trip in the winter. Please check the conditions and go with all proper equipment if you decide to do this. If you’ve hiked to Ralston Peak from any starting point, make a comment below! Also, follow me on twitter @sberei!