OverviewAlpine Walk Peak is located in the Mount Rose Wilderness rising north of Whites Creek. It sits on the east ridge of Mount Snowflower 10,243', and although it is a named peak, it rises only 140 feet above the ridge. Despite that fact, Alpine Walk Peak stands out as a landmark in the wilderness; a rocky summit in view from many a vantage point. For that reason, it deserves recognition.
Getting to Alpine Walk Peak is tough. There are no roads to the summit. There are no trails. There are no alpine walks. Any route to the summit requires bushwhacking for at least 1½ to 2 miles. Getting there requires strong route-finding skills. A GPS is recommended.
Once at the summit, the views are stunning. Virtually the whole Mount Rose Wilderness is in view, including nearly all the major peaks, Mount Snowflower in particular. Views east are remarkable. On a clear day, you can see Mount Grant 11,239’, 80 miles away.
Alpine Walk Peak actually has three summits. The southeast summit is 8980’, but often gets recognized as “Alpine Walk Peak” because it is very rocky and distinct. The true summit is 9,038’ and is about 300 yards northwest of the southeast summit. The west summit is 9,009’ and is rocky topped as well. It is a short walk; albeit through brush; from the true summit.
Alpine Walk Peak can be hiked usually starting in May and is good to hike through about mid-June. The heat is often too strong at other times. Hikers can return in September and hike usually through mid-November.
Getting ThereFirst you need to get to the Whites Creek Trailhead. To get there from Reno, take 395 South to the Mount Rose Highway (rt. 431). Once on 431, take it to the west for about 4 1/2 miles until you see Timberline Drive on your right. Turn right on Timberline Drive and then drive uphill for about ½ mile, and you will see a sign on the left to the Whites Creek Trailhead. A short bit up the road, its turns to dirt, but the road remains very well graded. It is about ¾ miles up to the trailhead.
Route InformationEssentially there are two ways to go; and both involve about 8 miles round trip and a one-way elevation gain of 2800 feet (over 2900 feet if you reach all three summits). All routes are class 1, with some scrambling at the top of the southeast summit and up the east ridge route near the top.
Both routes are tricky because you can’t see your destination for most of the approach. Bring a topographic map and a Google Map™ to help guide you.
Route 1: Offshoot from Dry Pond Trail
From the trailhead, hike 1.1 miles up to the junction with the Dry Pond Trail on the right.
Follow the trail for less than 50 yards where you cross Whites Creek. Now follow along the north side of the creek for about a mile, heading straight west. Eventually there is ridge rising just north of the creek. Do not take the ridge. Instead take the gully just north of the ridge. It climbs about 2200 feet up to Alpine Walk Peak in a little under two miles. There is enough open woods and sand to walk up the gully. Although it does get hairy in some spots, and running into brush is inevitable. This way avoids the brush on the southeast summit.
Route 2: East Ridge
Stay on the Whites Creek Trail for almost two miles until you reach the Mount Rose Wilderness sign. At this point, the trail turns north and crosses Whites Creek. The trail continues up a steep hill. At any point on the trail, find a place in the woods and head up the ridge on your right side. It is sandy and steep, but manageable. Make your way north up to the ridge top and west towards the higher elevation. There are enough open spots in the woods on the way up to not slow you down too much. However, thick trees and brush will be encountered. Once you get high enough, you will finally see the southeast summit of Alpine Walk Peak. The forest gets denser, and the last 500 feet are especially tough, although it is open enough to get up there. You have to choose your route carefully so you don’t get stuck in too much brush. This route heads directly up to the southeast summit.
For this route, and the first route, it is recommended you descend via the gully back to the Dry Pond Trail. The gully is steep, sandy, and brushy, but isn’t too difficult. You will have to walk over brush, but most of it isn’t too high. Further down the forest there are some open spots to the left. The last mile is generally more open.
If you want to reach Mount Snowflower, it is about 1.75 miles further west of the summit. If you do head to Snowflower, you would not return to Alpine Walk Peak, but descend down the meadow about ½ mile from the ridge, back down about ¾ miles to the Whites Creek Trail. Approaching Mount Snowflower this way is not recommended, since it is better approached from the Thomas Creek Trail or from Mount Rose.
Red TapeThere is no red tape, and no permits needed to hike up the Whites Creek Trail or enter the Mount Rose Wilderness. If hiking Alpine Walk Peak, try and wear long pants and long sleeves to avoid cuts and scrapes.
Panoramic Photos with labels taken by SpenceFrom the southeast summit
From the true summit