Dicks Peak is the third highest summit in California's Desolation Wilderness. Situated in the geographic center of the wilderness area, it has superb views of Lake Tahoe, the Crystal Range, the Carson Range, and the entire northern Sierra Nevada. On a clear day, you can see Mount Diablo, the Sutter Buttes, the Trinity Alps and the Shasta-Lassen area from the summit.
Dicks Peak is a relatively straightforward climb from the Pacific Crest Trail at Dicks Pass. It can also be easily climbed via the north ridge from the Fontanilis Lake area. The south ridge from Jacks Peak is a bit more challenging, but probably the most exciting way to gain the summit.
Dicks Peak sits nearly smack dab in the center of the Desolation Wilderness, so access to the peak requires several miles of hiking. The easiest access is from Tahoe's west shore, via either the Bayview Trail or the Emerald Bay Trail. Follow either one of these trails to a junction with the PCT, then south towards Dicks Lake and Dicks Pass. Access from the north side is via one of the routes leading into Desolation Valley from the highway 50 area (rocky canyon, twin bridges, echo lakes). From this direction, aim for the PCT and Dicks Pass. Dicks can also be accessed from the north shoulder of Mt. Tallac, but this is recommended only for those looking to bag both summits in one trip.
Permits required for day use (self serve at trailhead) and for overnight (quota system in effect, fee required, must be issued at forest service office). See the Mount Tallac page for more information.
When To Climb
Year round. Winter access is good via the Bayview Trail or the north shoulder of Tallac.
" 'Dicks Pk.' appeared on the Pyramid Peak 30-minute map of 1889. The peak was named for an eccentric Englishman, Captain Richard 'Dick' Barter, also known as 'the Hermit of Emerald Bay' or the 'Hero of Robber's Roost.' 'Captain Dick Barter was an old sailor (or shell-back, as he expressed it), who was employed by Mr. [Ben] Holladay to remain on the place and keep things ship-shape.' In 1870 he was sixty-five years old and had 'lived in this lonely spot for about seven years. There is not a residence within miles of him, and often for weeks or months at a time, he does not see a human being. He is a Robinson Crusoe in actual life.' (San Francisco Daily Alta California, August 22, 1870.)
'In Ben Holladay's house at Emerald Bay is a masterly piece of workmanship in the shape of a full rigged man-of-war, with men, guns and all the usual appurtenances and appliances. This Dick made during his hermitage, and for the remainder of his time he floated idly upon the lake, took charge of Holladay's house and grounds, or worked upon his own grave! Strange as it may appear, on a rock island in Emerald Bay, he fashioned a grave out of solid rock, built over it a house, erected above it a Catholic cross, and gave directions to have his body placed in the stony crypt. He loved the lake, and for hours at a time drifted about in his boat. At times he drank heavily, and when he felt the stupor of intoxication stealing over him he would row toward the middle of the lake, lie down in his boat and drift with the waves until he became sober. Poor Dick! he left Glenbrook one fearfully windy day much the worse for liquor, and off Rubicon Rocks his boat was seen to disappear. When the storm subsided his trusty boat was found crushed to minute fragments in the clefts of the rocks. One oar, much worn and chafed by rocks and waves, lay with the pieces of boat. The other oar was found three months afterwards in the same place, worn but slightly. The inference was plain. Captain Dick carried with him the last oar to the bottom of Tahoe. How it became detached from his death grip no one knows, but all his old friends regard this oar as a sad messenger sent to tell that Captain Dick's body has no further claims upon this upper world, not even upon the grave he prepared.' (Sacramento Daily Record-Union, May 29, 1875.)
Mighels 'discovered that one RICHARD BARTER was granted by the Examining Board of London, in the year 1848, a certificate as First Mate in the Mercantile Service of the Kingdom. This said Richard Barter was the identical Cap'n Dick whose name is so closely woven in with the life, history and legendary lore of Emerald Bay.' (Mighels, 252)"
- Barbara Lekisch, Tahoe Place Names