Church Peak is located in the Mount Rose Wilderness and is sometimes considered the north summit of Mount Rose. Others consider it the shoulder. It was named after James Church in 1980, a water expert and University of Nevada professor. (Learn more here and here).
Church Peak remains a named summit in Nevada, although it only rises about 150 feet above the summit ridge it shares with Mount Rose. It is actually about 2/3rd of a mile from Mount Rose, making it a distinct summit from any vantage point. Climbing Church Peak and Mount Rose requires little more than 10 miles of round trip hiking. Unlike Mount Rose, Church Peak requires some scrambling to get to the summit. Viewpoints from the summit are a bit different than you'll find on Mount Rose, with excellent views towards the Northern part of the Carson Range, but not as grand views of Lake Tahoe. On a clear day, you can see Lassen Peak.
Both Church Peak and Mount Rose are the result of volcanic activity that began 30 million years ago. Together they mark the transition zone between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. In fact, recent hydrothermal activity in the area has been measured, and power is generated from underground geothermal reservoirs only 10 miles east of the mountain.
Although Church Peak resides just 20 miles from the mountains on the west side of Lake Tahoe, it receives about half the moisture. For this reason, the snowfall is generally less than you’ll find in neighboring peaks to the West. Hiking season to Church Peak and Mount Rose generally begin in late May and extends through early November. Like Mount Rose, the summit of Church Peak is above tree line, but just barely.
Getting ThereThe trailhead for Church Peak is the same as the trailhead for Mount Rose. From Reno take 395 to the Mount Rose Highway (431). Take 431 until you reach the Mount Rose Summit Parking Area (8,911'). Church Peak can be hiked using similar alternatives routes referenced on the Mount Rose page.
From Mount Rose Trail to the summit
Round Trip Distance: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Difficulty: Walk-up/class II on the final part of the summit
From the Mount Rose Summit parking area, take the Mount Rose trail for the first 3.6 miles until you reach a sign pointing to the final leg of the Mount Rose trail at around 9,400 feet. Continue up the Mount Rose trail for another 3/4 miles until you hit the ridge between Church Peak and Mount Rose (at just over 10,400 feet). Instead of following the trail south towards Mount Rose, head north up the ridge towards Church Peak. There are some rocks to pass over that require a little bit of class II, and then a false summit that involves some easy class II scrambling. Once the false summit is crested, the true summit is less than five minutes away.