Ward Peak is a prominent summit in the Lake Tahoe Basin. It has a prominence of over 400’ between it and Twin Peaks 8,878’. It is accessed from multiple starting points and makes for a good destination for a day hike around Lake Tahoe.
Ward Peak rises about 200 feet above the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and is south of the very popular Five Lakes area.
Views from the summit are pretty spectacular. The direct view is towards the north face of Twin Peaks, but Lake Tahoe is in view as are the peaks in the Granite Chief Wilderness.
Given Ward Peak is in West Tahoe, it is typically hiked starting in June and through late October. It is basically the highest point within the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort area.
There are three starting points for Ward Peak. If wanting a longer hike with opportunities to view more of the area, you can take the Five Lakes Trail off of Alpine Meadows Road. For shorter hikes, you can take the ski road from the end of Alpine Meadows Road, or you can park at the south entrance to the Alpine Meadows Ski Area, which is accessed from Tahoe City.
To get to Alpine Meadows Road take Highway 89 south from Truckee, California and I-80. It is 10 miles south of I-80 and about 1.5 miles south of the entrance to Squaw Valley. It is about 3 ½ miles north of Tahoe City. The Five Lakes Trail is about 2 miles up the road, across the street from Deer Park Drive. There are usually lots of cars on the side of the road near the trailhead. The base of Alpine Meadows is just another 1 1/3 mile drive.
To get to the southern ski slopes at the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort drive just another 1 1/3 miles further past the entrance to the Five Lakes Trail, but 375’ higher.
The alternate route is to take Ward Creek Blvd. Take 89 South at the junction in Tahoe City for 2 miles to Pineland Drive. Follow Pineland for 0.4 miles and turn left on Twin Peaks Drive. After 200 yards, you run into Ward Creek Avenue. Follow it for three miles. Then the road becomes Courchevel Road. Take it for 2/3rds of a mile to the end.
RouteThe Five Lakes Trail goes about 2 miles up to the Five Lakes. A trail junction goes either towards the lakes or the PCT. Although both trails meet up again. There is a sign marking the PCT, and the trail heads back to the east, and switchbacks up to the ridge. Once on the top of the ridge, the trail goes on the back side of Point 8468 and continues another mile until you need to get off the trail to head up towards Ward Peak.
It is about 5 ¾ miles to the summit, gaining a little over 2,400’ via this route. To cut distance, you can park another car at the end of Alpine Meadows and descend via the 2nd route described below. Or just walk the extra 1 1/3rd mile back to the Five Lakes Trailhead for a total distance of a little over 9 1/2 miles.
From the end of Alpine Meadows Road, walk through the two buildings and get up to the road up the ski slope. It winds around for about two miles to the top of the ridge, just above the PCT. The total distance is about 2 ½ miles one way, gaining about 1,730’.
From the south route, take the ski road, which winds around for about two miles to the summit with an elevation gain of about 1,500’.