At 9,591', East Peak is the highest point in Douglas County, Nevada. Situated on a ridge near the higher Monument Peak 10,067' in California, East Peak might just be a minor summit if it didn't have the county highpoint distinction. It has a prominence of about 320' above the saddle it shares with nearby Monument Peak.
East Peak and Lake Tahoe from the descent from Monument Peak.
The views from the summit are tremendous. Lake Tahoe in full view. Desolation Wilderness in full view. There are excellent views to the east into the Nevada desert.
Hiking East Peak is pretty straightforward, since it is located within the Heavenly Ski area above South Lake Tahoe, California. There are lots of man made structures which take some of the wilderness flavor away from East Peak. However, the views from the summit more than make up for it.
Combining Monument Peak and East Peak adds only a few miles, and is well worth the extra distance, especially since you can climb two mountains in two different states in the same day!
Getting ThereThe trailhead is located off Kingsbury Grade, a mountain pass, leading from the Carson Valley in Nevada to Lake Tahoe.
From Reno, head south on US 395 past Carson City. Continue south past the US Highway 50 West junction in Carson City for about 1.3 miles to NV-206 South (Jacks Valley Road). Continue as it heads towards the foothills just below Genoa Peak to the small historic community of Genoa, Nevada. Continue for a little over 8 miles through Genoa (slow down to avoid the speed trap) and continue on for another 5 ½ miles to the entrance to NV-207 – the Kingsbury Grade Road, which heads uphill over the Daggett Pass 7334’ (about 8 miles from the junction with NV 206).
From Sacramento, head east on US 50 to Lake Tahoe. Take the Kingsbury Grade junction, which is basically the road to up to Heavenly Ski area, so it is well marked.
Whatever direction you are coming from, east or west, the place you need to get to is Daggett Pass. Tramway Drive is on the south side of the road, right across from Daggett Pass.
Once on Tramway Drive, take it until it ends at a T-junction. Then take a left uphill on Quaking Aspen, which is a one-way road. Take it until it goes up and you can see the trail ahead of you. The road then descends to the Stagecoach Chairlift at about 7,500'. Park here.
There are various ways to head up to East Peak, but the most straightforward way is to hike up the trail from the Stagecoach Chairlift up the dirt until you reach a dirt road. Take a right and take the road as it winds uphill and eventually hits East Peak Lake at 8,634' after 2 1/4 miles or so.
East Peak Lake
From here, head up the ski chute on the right (there are two big ones seen from the lake). Either head up the chute to the top, or even better, stay on the road as it winds up towards East Peak. Eventually you reach a clearing with a road on the left and right. The one on the left heads up to East Peak. Either way, it is a little less than 3 1/2 miles to the summit with an elevation gain of about 2,100'.
Once at the summit - the view is memorizing. Pretty much the entirety of Lake Tahoe is in view. You can see the state line directly below, with casinos on the Nevada side.
Lake Tahoe and the town of South Lake Tahoe.
To reach Monument Peak, head down to the saddle, and follow the ridge back up to Monument Peak about 1 3/4 miles away. Both can he hiked together in about 9 miles round trip.
Red TapeThere is no red tape to hike here during the summer. Parking is free. During ski season, it is a different story. You can reach East Peak via various chair-lifts, etc., but the place is full of skiers and there is a cost associated. So, my recommendation is to hike when ski season ends; usually between the end of April and the end of May. Hiking here is typically done between late May and mid-November. The best time is probably late September through early November.