OverviewGranite Chief, near the Squaw Valley Ski Area, northwest of Lake Tahoe. The summit block is an awesome basalt pinnacle that rises from the windswept ridge. Lyon Peak rises 8891 feet above sea level just to the west of Needle Peak, which can easily be bagged in conjunction with Needle Peak. Needle Peak can be hiked from just about any side. The easiest and shortest route would be from Squaw Valley, over Granite Chief, then along the ridge to the summit. The summit may also be reached from French Meadows Reservoir or from The Cedars. The summit block is easy class 3 with stable and good holds. The summit offers impressive views of the Tahoe basin, along with the vast expanse of the northern Central Valley on a clear day, and even up to Lassen Peak. There is a summit register placed in 2003 by 1000pks. The peak is listed on the Tahoe OGUL list, and located in the Granite Chief Wilderness Area.
Getting ThereThe easiest and shortest approach to Needle Peak is from the Squaw Valley Ski resort. From Truckee, head 10 miles south on CA 89, or five miles north on CA89 from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley Road. Head west on Squaw Valley Road until you hit the large parking lot at the Village. You can either hike from here, or take the cable car up to High Camp and start the hike from there, cutting off 3.7 miles and 2000 feet of climbing.
Needle Peak may also be approached from The Cedars, which is located about 7 miles south on Soda Springs Road from Donner Pass Rd. Take the Sugar Bowl/Norden exit from I-80 between Kingvale and Boreal and make a right onto Soda Springs Rd. near the Soda Springs Ski hill.
Red TapeIf you choose to take the cable car from Squaw Valley, the cost is 20 dollars for an adult, and the earliest ride up the mountain is at 9:40 AM in the summer, and the latest is 9:40 PM. Other than that, there is no red tape.
No permits or anything are required to enter the Wilderness Area, however, a campfire permit must be obtained if you plan to use a stove or build a fire.
CampingYou may camp without a permit, however, you may not camp within 600 feet of water in the Five Lakes Basin, which is not located anywhere near Needle Peak.
External LinksBob Burd's Trip Report
Pete Yamagata's page
USFS Granite Chief Wilderness page