She comes by her name naturally. The late afternoon alpenglow that lays its rays across Mount Rose transforms the snowcapped peak into a 10,776-foot geologic rose. It’s not uncommon to spy wistful stares from those in the surrounding lowlands as they look up toward commanding monolith late in the day. Mount Rose is the crown jewel of the 30,000-acre wilderness area bearing her name. The mountain anchors Lake Tahoe’s eastern rim of ridgeline, as well.
Travel Nevada PRO TIP: Keep in mind that the Mount Rose Wilderness Area is off limits to mechanized vehicles. That includes mountain bikes and snow machines. But for human-powered pleasure, you can quickly escape into the wilderness in as little as 40 minutes from downtown Reno.
In the summer months, popular trails lead hikers up into the wilderness area and finally Mount Rose Summit, if that’s your destination. As the tallest peak on the Nevada side of the Lake Tahoe basin, bagging Mt. Rose peak is a challenging summertime must do for visitors and locals alike. Serving up 360 views of Lake Tahoe, Reno and the Truckee Meadows, Washoe Valley, and even glimpses of Truckee and Squaw Valley, views from the Mt. Rose Summit are unlike any other in the Tahoe Basin.
MT. ROSE SUMMIT TRAIL
Panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, Truckee Meadows and Carson Valley await. This very popular trail leads to the headwaters of Galena Creek before climbing a sharp ascent to the summit. Be prepared for strong winds and changeable weather conditions as you approach the unprotected summit.
Distance: 12 miles round trip
Elevation: 8,900' to 10,776'
JONES-WHITES CREEK LOOP TRAIL
This hike up to the flanks of Mount Rose in the Carson Range offers a trail through Jeffrey Pines, mountain mahogany and an 8,000-foot ridge overlooking meadows and valleys.
Distance: 9.2 mile loop through Mt. Rose Wilderness
Elevation: 6,200' to 8,300'
WHITES & THOMAS CREEK CANYONS
Trails, including the Dry Pond Trail, are available in two canyons. Both canyon trails access the Mt. Rose Wilderness. Two new trails and trailheads were constructed at Whites and Thomas Creek canyons. The new Dry Pond Trail connects the two canyons and provides outstanding views of Reno, Washoe Valley and Mount Rose. Hikers flock to Thomas Creek, where they find a rolling stream slicing through a scenic, aspen-filled canyon. The autumn colors are magnificent. In the spring, the meadow is carpeted with wildflowers.
Distance: 8 miles of trails available in two canyons.
Elevation: 7,400 to 9,800
The trail parallels the Hunter Creek Canyon. Hikers will find a number of rewards, including evidence of Nevada’s hard-working beaver population.
Distance: 7 miles round trip
Elevation: 5,000' to 6,000'
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced
SKIING, BOARDING & SNOWSHOEING
When the snow falls, the mountain’s flanks host a backcountry bonanza. The Mount Rose Wilderness has meandering meadows, challenging steeps and numerous chutes and basins. Steeps, chutes, bowls, glades… stick on your skins, flick on your avy beacon, pick and line and climb. You may even want to save your lunch break until you come across the tiny, inconspicuous hut that straddles Contact Pass. Snowshoers, Nordic skaters, and the lovable tribes of bonsai sledders and tubers all congregate around Mount Rose’s many bowls and sled runs, many of which can be found directly off Nevada State Route 431—or the only highway that stretches directly through the Mt. Rose Meadows.
Tamarack and Incline Peaks are also popular destinations, and advanced groups can reach the summits of both peaks in about an hour. Another favorite is Rose Knob, which has a trailhead fewer than 10 minutes from Incline Village. If you want to hit the backcountry in relative solitude, Relay, Houghton and Mount Rose peaks see fewer than half the skiers than the closer locations get, making it easy to venture past the crowds.
Though the Mount Rose Meadows is a magnet for wintertime recreation of all types, one you won’t want to miss is the snowshoe trek into Chickadee Ridge. Aptly named for the resident chickadees that live in the trees along a ridgeline offering incredible views of Lake Tahoe, anyone making this 2 mile round trip trek will undoubtedly get in touch with their inner Snow White in all the right ways. Hike into Chickadee Ridge during summer months, or snowshoe into this incredible experience during the winter. Here, wild chickadees will fly down from their nests and land right in your hand, if you can believe it.
Travel Nevada PRO TIP: Feeding the chickadees, or any wildlife of any kind is not only extremely uncool, it’s also illegal. Human food is not healthy for wild animals, and they do not need food from humans to survive. Wild animals have specialized diets, and they can become malnourished or die if fed or become dependent on human food. The good news at Chickadee Ridge is this: the birds are so used to people in the area that they will naturally land on your hand, food or not.
ACCESSING THE MOUNT ROSE WILDERNESS
Fees are not required to any day or overnight use of the Mount Rose Wilderness area, though campfire permits are required. For most up to date information on seasonal access, be sure to connect with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management, at (530) 543-2600.