Devils Peak is located on the divide between the Yuba and American River watersheds in the Tahoe National Forest. The sheer east face rises dramatically above the surrounding terrain. Situated approximately 6 miles off the Sierra crest, it provides fine, almost completely unobstructed views of the surrounding peaks and river canyons. In addition to the great views, the peak can present some challenging climbs. The easiest route to the summit is solid class 3, but 4th and 5th class routes can easily be had.
The Devils Peak area is popular with all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. It is situated within the Royal Gorge Cross County Ski Area. This website has a great link to a webcam giving a unique view of the peak. The webcam however is pre-recorded showing a winter scene. In the summer months, the area plays host to numerous campsites, so expect to see mountain bikers, hikers and possible off-road vehicles.
In the winter and spring, avalanches are a very real possibility. We saw evidence (downed trees...) of a very recent one along the north side of the peak.
Devils Peak is listed on the Tahoe OGUL Peak List.
The peak can easily be combined with nearby Snow Mountain for the more ambitious.
In the summer, the peak can be approached from the NE side by parking at Cascade Lakes. To reach the parking area, one needs to navigate a maze of dirt roads. Actually, it's not that bad if you pay attention and follow the directions below.
In the winter, suitable parking can be had at the Donner Trails School. Head under I-80, then cross country heading SE to the base of the peak. As the area is managed by the Royal Gorge Ski Area in the winter, a trail pass may be required to reach the peak.
Once you reach the base of the peak there are at least three routes to climb to the summit. Note the north summit is the obvious high point.
- Southwest slope- Class 3. Ascend the slope directly to the south of the peak. Once the ridge is gained, continue to the southwest side of the peak where a solid class three route can be found. The south summit gained by this route is shown as the highpoint on most topo maps, and has three survey markers. Traverse an easy class 2 knife-edge ridge to the north summit which is the actual highpoint.
- West Face- Class 3-4. Following the directions above for the Southwest slope, continue contouring along to roughly the center of the west face. An ascent here will take one to the middle of the knife edge ridge between the two summits.
- North Chute- Class 3-4. Probably the most interesting route. In winter or early spring the chute will be snow filled, requiring crampons and an ice axe. A false summit is at the top of the north chute. From this point there are two further options.
- Knife-edge ridge to north summit- Follow the knife-edge ridge to the obvious high point of the north summit. This route will require some class 4-5 moves and has some decent exposure. If climbing close to the east face, the exposure will be significant (200-300 feet).
- Otherwise, contour below the ridge and north summit to the west face as describe above.
Getting ThereSummer Ascents
- From Sacramento and the Bay Area, take Hwy 80 east approximately 55 miles past Auburn. Take the Soda Springs exit and turn right. Continue on about .75 miles. Take a right at the first intersection. The road is to the northwest of Lake Van Norden. Follow it for about 1 mile to Pahatsi Road and take a right. Follow Pahatsi for an additional .4 miles to the Summit Station of the Royal Gorge Ski Area. The paved road ends here. To end up at Cascade Lakes follow the below directions and mileage estimates:
- Continue straight along the dirt road for 1.3 miles. Ignore the left turn.
- Proceed another .80 miles, again ignoring any side roads. Continue to proceed straight, past signs to Kidd Lake Campground.
- The road continues to the north and ultimately west side of Kidd Lake. Continue about .80 mile.
- As of June 2005, not shown on topo maps, after Kidd Lake, the road turns west (right) and continues around a ridge. The topo maps I have show the road going directly south after Kidd Lake, but we didn't see that route. Turn right and follow the road another .80 mile, ignoring a spur road to the right just after the turn.
- The road comes to the Devils Peak warming hut, where you can park.
- The trail begins at a spillway between upper and lower Cascade Lakes. However, you will need to immediately leave the trail and continue cross-country to pick up a logging road at the northwest side of the peak. The route finding is easy as you can use the peak for a bearing.
- From Truckee, follow I-80 about 12 miles to the Soda Springs exit, turn right over the freeway, and follow the directions above.
Exit I-80 at Kingvale and take the frontage road along the north side of the freeway. Park at the Donner Trail School, pass under I-80 and continue south to the railroad tracks. I have not hiked in this area in the winter so any beta is a best estimate. The peak is located to the southwest, and shouldn't be difficult to find.
Permits are not required for day hikes or overnights stays in any season. More information can be found at the Tahoe National Forest
website. In the winter months, due to the fact that the Royal Gorge Ski Area manages the area under lease, access may require the purchase of a trail pass. Please see Royal Gorge Cross County Ski Area- Rates
for current fee information. In summer, trailhead parking is free.
There are many private parcels of land in the general area. Please obey all posted private property and trespassing signs.
When To Climb
Devils Peak can be climbed any time of year given the listed restrictions (trail passes, private property...). Access is easier in summer, but not all that bad in winter.
There are numerous Forest Service campsites in the area, most of which charge about $14.00. There are several "hike in" sites managed by the Forest Service for which there is no charge. Please visit the Tahoe National Forest Camping
website for more information. There is also a privately owned campground at Cisco Grove. This facility has running water, toilets, convenience store, RV hook ups and more. Visit Cisco Grove Campground
for more information.
For current conditions and information call or stop by the:Big Bend Visitor Center
Tahoe National Forest
49685 Hampshire Rocks Road (old Hwy 40)
(at the Big Bend or Rainbow Road exits off of I-80)
PO Box 830
Soda Springs CA 95631
530.426.3609 (voice only)
- Beware that avalanches can be a distinct possibility after winter storms. Please check the Central Sierra Snow Advisory before leaving on any backcountry ski or snowshoe trip.