Lake Tahoe views are just one of the rewards of climbing this peak
Lake Tahoe is a high mountain lake that is ringed by mountains on all sides. On the eastern side of the lake is one of the taller peaks, Snow Valley Peak. Snow Valley peak has the distinction of being the highest point in Carson City county, a unique county in that it is not part of any county; instead, it is an independent city (the capital of Nevada). It used to be part of old Ormsby County, which slowly lost area as new counties were formed from its territory in the early part of the 20th century. The county nomenclature was dissolved in 1969 when it was little more than just some land surrounding Carson City. At that time all services were absorbed into that of Carson City. For county highpointing purposes, Carson City is treated as a county-like division. Hopefully that was clear but in Nevada, Snow Valley Peak is the Carson City highpoint.
Snow Valley Peak is a key peak for those who are chasing the county highpoints of Nevada. It isn't a difficult peak to climb as it is an easy class 2 hike and rock climbers will be disappointed as there are no rock climbs to be had . SP'er Spence did this panoramic shot from the summit of Snow Valley Peak. You can see why it is worth the effort to get to the top.
Getting ThereDrive up US 50 from Carson City and park at Spooner Summit for access to the TRT. You can also access Spooner Summit from So. Lake Tahoe but be aware that you'd be crossing a double line to cross over to the parking area. There is plenty of parking here but no facilities. The TH is at the northside of the parking area and you'll find a sign with mileage. Best to do this when there isn't any snow on the trail as there was when I tried it. I lost the trail after about two miles and had to return to my vehicle.
Spooner Lake State Park offers another route up North Canyon from its parking area. See more info under the North Canyon via Spooner Lake route description.
Red TapeNo permit is needed to park at the Tahoe Rim Trail parking area but there is a fee $(six bucks a car) to park at the Spooner Lake entrance of the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park . When I was there however in early April after the Spooner Lake XC ski area had closed down, there was no one manning the fee booth and parking was free.
When To Climb or SkiThis peak is an all season peak. You could climb it in any season. You may use snowshoes or skis in the winter / spring or hike the Tahoe Rim Trail to access the summit after the snow is gone.
For a good oversight of the Spooner Lake area and the XC skiing available, click on this link to bring up some excellent information as well as a map which will orient you nicely to Snow Valley Peak's relationship to Spooner Lake.The other route listed above via Spooner Lake is a less than ten mile round trip using a mountain bike or hiking it.
CampingCabins are available at Spooner Lake and lodging is of available in So. Lake Tahoe or Carson City. Camping is also to be found at some of the state parks listed HERE.
Mountain ConditionsSpooner Lake XC Skiing resort has this website where you can get information on conditions or can get information by emailing the owners. You can access the Spooner Lake webcam HERE.
Virtual Lake Tahoe offers this website where you can obtain additional information.
Weather and info websitesSince the weather link below to time/temperature is down a lot lately, click HERE for the weather report of Incline Village, the closest town to Snow Valley Peak.
This website has a pictorial report about a trip taken up Snow Valley Peak
If you have information about this mountain that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.
Nearby county highpointsIf you are interested in county highpoints, the Lake Tahoe region has several close by. Represented by pages on Summitpost are:
Mt. Rose of Washoe County Nevada
Granite Chief of Placer County California
Freel Peak of El Dorado County California
Middle Sister of Lyon County Nevada
Thunder Mtn of Amador County California
Mt. Lola of Nevada County California
Mt. Lola North of Sierra County California (see Mt. Lola page)
Sonora Peak of Alpine County California
Mt. Davidson of Storey County
East Peak of Douglas County Nevada
See the pics taken from East Peak below, it is a great viewpoint.
East Peak is a lesser peak inside of the Heavenly Valley Ski area with higher peaks just south of it on the California side of the line.
See the Monument Peak (Heavenly) page for more info.
So you can see within a radius of not more than 50 miles are ten county highpoints, making a Lake Tahoe vacation something worth planning for. It took me two trips to Lake Tahoe to get all ten. My wife loved it.
Other tidbitsHere's an interesting story about a mountain lion encounter south of Spooner summit on the TRT.
Carson City as a countyIt sounds weird but there is a reason why Carson City is considered a county.
Wikipedia has some information about it here:
"The Consolidated Municipality of Carson City is the capital of the State of Nevada. A 2005 population estimates places its population at 57,104. . Carson City is now an independent city, not part of any county, and is its own Metropolitan Statistical Area. Like many towns in Nevada, Carson City was founded in the boom days of mining. A center of silver mining, Carson City was the county seat of the former Ormsby County and was named for explorer Kit Carson.
Carson City has the distinction of being the smallest of the 361 Metropolitan Statistical Areas as designated by the United States Census Bureau (as of July 1, 2004).
The largest nearby city to Carson City is Reno, about 30 miles to the north. Carson City is one of only two capital cities in the United States that borders another state; the other is Trenton, New Jersey."
The watershed and area above Carson City was annexed to protect the water supply of Carson City and Snow Valley Peak just happens to be in this watershed. The whole aspect of a city being a county is interesting to me and I'll continue to look for additional information along this line.
More history thanks to Wikipedia:
"The habitat of the Eastern Sierra must have been a welcome refuge for explorers Kit Carson and John C. Fremont as they rode into Eagle Valley during their quest to map the West in the 1840s.
To the east, long stretches of desert mark the difficult terrain settlers had to endure to get here. To the west, the Sierra Nevada stretches out as a gateway to the Pacific.
During that time, Northern Nevada saw its first wave of white settlers. The Bidwell-Bartleson party is believed to have made their way through the area in 1841. Westbound traffic increased, spurred by the big boom of 1848-1849 when the discovery of California gold ignited the frontier spirit and transformed Eagle Valley.
By 1851, Eagle Station, a trading post and small ranch on the Carson Branch of the California Emigrant Trail, served as a stopover for travel-weary gold prospectors.
According to historical accounts, the station and surrounding valley took their names from an eagle shot by Frank Hall with his ball-and-cap Colt and mounted on the trading post wall. Frank, brother W.L. Hall and George Jollenshee ran the ranch, located at the current site of Fifth and Thompson streets.
In 1858, Abraham Curry bought Eagle Station when he found lots in Genoa, Nevada to be too expensive. Carson City's future designation as a capital was largely the fruit of Curry's labor. He left a ten-acre plaza in the city center for his predicted location of the state capitol as he laid plans for the city's future.
In 1859, gold prospectors hit silver in the hills east of Carson City. The Comstock Lode, as it was called, was the largest silver find in world history. Tens of thousands of miners poured into Carson City and neighboring Virginia City.
In the 1860s, Carson City was a station for the Pony Express and the overland mail under the Chorpenning, Butterfield, and Wells Fargo companies. In 1861, true to Curry's prediction, and largely because of his shrewd maneuvers, Carson City became the capital of the Nevada Territory.
Despite its small population and expansive territory (Nevada is the seventh-largest state), statehood was inevitable. War was brewing in the east, and Nevada's wealth, as well as its congressional votes, would prove vital to the Union war effort. Nevada was granted statehood on October 31, 1864. Each year Nevada's "Battle Born" roots are celebrated in Carson City with the Nevada Day parade.
Prosperity continued when the Big Bonanza, another major silver strike, was discovered in 1873."
- A Day of Hiking Above Lake Tahoe
Story and pictures of a hike to Snow Valley Peak via the Tahoe Rim Trail.