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    Mount Rose
    (Friday, July 18, 2003 in the Mt. Rose Wilderness, NV)

    See also my photo album from this hike.

    Trip home | Next hike


    East Lake Tahoe Sarah and I made the short drive from our hotel in Reno to the trailhead, just west of the summit of the Mt. Rose Hwy., and hit the trail at 08:30. The start of the trail was vaguely-marked, with only a small Tahoe Rim Trail marker by the road. Just a little bit up the trail, though, there was a proper trailhead sign that confirmed my suspicions that we were in the right place. A hiker neared us and asked if this was the Mt. Rose trail - guess we weren't the only ones who weren't quite sure! The trail climbed very gently, parallel to the highway, and we were surrounded by exuberant clumps of white lupine dotted with paintbrush, mule's ear sunflowers, and the occasional penstemon. We had nice, if a bit hazy, views of Incline Lake and Lake Tahoe beyond. This wasn't too shabby at all! After a little ways the trail veered north and we left the lake views (and highway noise) behind. For a non-holiday Friday, there were a surprising number of folks around including a couple backpackers coming down the trail. We came to a little snowmelt pond that had a handful of folks lollygagging around its shores, and soon saw the start of the Mt. Rose spur trail to our right. Its large trailhead sign had a register in it, as well as trail comment forms and a number of the usual warning signs (blah blah bear blah lightning blah blah mountain lion blah blah blah).

    Our first view of Mt. Rose The Mt. Rose trail descended through a high wildflower-strewn meadow and across several snowmelt streams. After slipping and clumsily stepping into one of them, I began to slightly regret my choice to do this hike in my Chacos (hiking sandals). The wildflower'age here was very impressive (fleabane, wallflower, the fascinating Sierra evening primrose, penstemon, lupine, farewell-to-spring, coyote mint, mule's ear sunflowers, and crimson columbine - WOW!)! My favorite was a beautiful patch of crimson columbine.

    Looking southwest from near the summit We traversed to our left across the green valley towards a gully on Mt. Rose's foot, then followed the trail up its side. There were many flowers here too, mainly purple lupine and paintbrush, but there was little shade and it felt pretty warm, as the grade had steepened by a fair bit. We heard a bizairre sound that sounded strangely like my cat, Matisse, coming from up in a tree. The odd noises continued and changed - we figured it was a bird, but which, and where? We asked a passing couple if they knew what it was, and they said it was a Clark's Nutcracker, which had also been mentioned in one of my guidebooks. We only caught a fleeting glimpse of the throaty fellow, though. We soon passed a sign indicating the boundary of the Mt. Rose Wilderness area, came to the saddle between Mt. Rose and Mt. Houghton (to the left - this didn't look like a very good approach for it though), and turned right, climbing more gently along a lovely ridge towards the summit. A descending hiker said Mt. Lassen and Sierra Buttes were visible from the summit (not that I have any idea what Sierra Buttes look like). Many lakes lay to our north out past a beautiful green valley. There was a fairly substantial sub-summit north of Mt. Rose and I wondered if it had a name. The trail wound through a talus field and we passed the couple who'd ID'd the bird for us. They said they'd gone as far as they were going to, which we thought was a little odd since there were a scan couple hundred horizontal feet (and very few vertical feet) from the summit!

    Sarah and I at the Mt. Rose summit We soon arrived at the summit and found that we had it all to ourselves. The views were far-ranging, but there was too much haze to see details. We could see the Reno/Sparks area to our northeast, much of Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Rim, and if we squinted, we could see what we presumed was Mt. Lassen a loooong ways to the north. There were a gazillion bugs buzzing around. None biting, but the buzzing was kinda annoying! We searched for a while for a summit register, but didn't find one. Several large'ish stone shelters were in the summit area, but it wasn't particularly windy (unusual for a Sierra peak!), so we didn't use them. We spent a little while on top, enjoying the views and solitude. As we started to head down, two guys arrived. We asked if they knew if there was a register, but they didn't, and we headed on down.

    Looking back at Mt. Rose on the way back I had my beady little eyes on the point north of the Mt. Rose summit, fairly sure it was a named peak, but as I got near, I saw that it was probably class 3 - no problem if I was wearing closed-toe shoes, but I wasn't really interested in bagging a possibly-unnamed peak, climbing crumbly-looking rocks in sandals. If I'd either known it had a name or been wearing hiking boots, I'd have been unable to resist, but as neither of those conditions were met, I did not. Naturally, I later found it is a named peak - Church Peak. Oh well, I'll definitely be back here before too terribly long, and will bag it then. The hike back was uneventful and went by pretty quickly. We saw a few more flowers, mariposa lilies, some weird fuzzy things, and pine berries, and forget-me-nots - this was a truly excellent wildflower hike, at least at this time of year!! I got some water from one of the snowmelt streams in the flowered valley, and we enjoyed the remaining few miles back to the car. Upon passing the Mt. Rose trailhead, we signed the register and filled out a comment card. Given the forest service's admonitions to please not leave anything on the summit, I guess the register down here would have to do, but its certainly not the same!

    This was a very enjoyable hike - actually having an official trail all the way to the top of a Sierra peak is a bit of a luxury! The views were very good - on a clear day they'd be fantastic. I definitely recommend hiking it during the week, though, if you enjoy hiking with a lot of other folks. Even early on a Friday we saw over a dozen folks on the trail - I imagine that its substantially more crowded on weekends and holidays!

    Hike Stats:
    Distance: 12mi
    Total Time: 7h 9m
    Elevation gain: ~2500 feet
    Difficulty: 7 - a little long'ish, but not too difficult
    Scenery: 8
    Wildflowers: 10 - wow!
    Trail condition/markings/etc: 10 - well-marked and graded
    Overall rating: 8.5
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    Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
    Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul
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