Mount Rose Wilderness Summit Shot Alex Baker

Photo By: Alex Baker

Mount Rose Wilderness Area

Hiking, snowshoeing and other outdoors adventures can be had in the Mount Rose Wilderness Area. 


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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 the 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.

For lookers, Mount Rose is indeed a gorgeous sight.

For climbers, she represents an object of desire.

In the summer, popular trails lead hikers up into the wilderness area and finally the summit, if that's your destination. (Keep in mind elevation – layer up for cool, breezy alpine weather.)

When the snow falls, the mountain’s flanks host a backcountry bonanza. Steeps, chutes, bowls, glades… stick on your skins, flick on your avy beacon, pick a 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 off Nevada state Route 431.

Please keep in mind 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 30 minutes from downtown Reno. 


Mount Rose Summit Trail

Panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, Truckee Meadows and Carson Valley await. The very popular trail leads to the headwaters of Galena Creek before climbing 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'

Difficulty: Advanced

Getting There: Tahoe Rim Trail trailhead is at the Mount Rose Summit Welcome Plaza on Nevada state Route 431 (17 miles west of U.S. 395).

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 Mount Rose Wilderness.

Elevation: 6,200' to 8,300'

Difficulty: Intermediate

Getting There: From Reno, take U.S. 395 south eight miles. Turn west on Nevada state Route 431 (Mount Rose Highway) and continue eight miles west to Galena Creek Regional Park. Trailhead is at the north picnic area. Alternatively, turn north on Timberline Road four miles up Nevada state route 431 from U.S. 395. Continue north one mile to Whites Creek Canyon. Turn west and travel 0.7 miles to the trailhead. The Whites Creek Canyon Trail connects to the Jones-Whites Creek Trail from there.

Whites & Thomas Creek Canyons

Trails, including the Dry Pond Trail, are available in two canyons. Both canyon trails access the Mount 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: Eight miles of trails available in two canyons.

Elevation: 7,400' to 9,800'

Difficulty: Intermediate

Getting There: From south Reno, take Nevada state Route 431 (Mount Rose Highway) for four miles to Timberline Road. Turn right on Timberline Road to access the Whites Creek Canyon trailhead. Travel about one mile into the canyon, turn west and continue for 0.7 miles. To access the Thomas Creek Canyon trailhead, continue on Timberline Road another half-mile.

Hunter Creek

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

Getting There: From Reno, head west on Interstate 80 to the West McCarran exit. Head west on Mayberry Drive to Plateau Road, which will go up the hill to the south. Turn right on Woodchuck Circle, to the county trailhead.

Horseback Riding:

Horseback riders will find about 20 miles of designated trails winding through the Mount Rose Wilderness. Overnight camping is allowed.

Getting There:

Thomas Creek: From Reno, take U.S. 395 south then turn west on Nevada state Route 431 (Mount Rose Highhway) for 4 miles to Timberline Road. Turn right on Timberline Road to access the Thomas Creek Canyon trailhead.

Galena Creek: From Reno, take U.S. 395 south then turn west on Nevada state Route 431 (Mount Rose Highway) for 8 miles. Galena Creek Regional Park trailhead is at the north picnic area.

Skiing, Boarding & Snowshoeing

Proximity to a downhill resort doesn't diminish the fact that this mountain offers both solace and scenic backcountry trails. The Mount Rose Wilderness has meandering meadows, challenging steeps and numerous chutes and basins. Tamarack and Incline Peaks are 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.

Getting There: Follow Nevada state Route 431 (Mount Rose Highway).

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