Monument Peak is occupied by the Heavenly Ski Resort, located on the stateline of Nevada and California, a few miles southeast of the city of South Lake Tahoe. At 10,067 feet, it is the second highest peak that is accessed by ski lift in California, following Mammoth Mountain
. A sub-peak of the mountain, East Peak
, is the highest point in Douglas County, Nevada. The slopes of the peak serve as a huge winter playground for skiers and snowboarders, and can be hiked in the summer months. Contrary to popular belief, it is completely legal to hike on Monument Peak in the summer months. Even though it is on the property of Heavenly Ski Resort, the peak is located in El Dorado National Forest. However, hiking on the slopes isn't permitted during winter, for obvious reasons. In the winter, a very limited of amount of hiking is required to reach the summit. One can go by ski lift to the 10,000 foot level of the summit ridge. From here, a short 15 minute hike will bring you to the top. Summer offers more routes, and one can basically hike up any route they choose to the summit. The summit area offers many great scrambling and bouldering spots, along with magnificent views of the Tahoe Basin, north to Mt. Rose
, east to the Carson Valley, south to Freel Peak
, Jobs Peak
, and Jobs Sister
, west to Mt. Tallac
, and northwest to Granite Chief
and Castle Peak
. Monument Peak makes a great hike in the summer and a nice addition to a day of skiing in the winter.
View northwest from the summit. East Peak is located in the right-center of the photo, and is the highpoint of Douglas County
Here is the Heavenly Site
Summer hikes can start at either the top of the gondola, at 9,100 feet, or from Stagecoach or Boulder Lodges. The gondola is located in South Lake Tahoe, two blocks south of Stateline on Highway 50. There is parking available in Nevada, behind Harah's casino, where you will then have to walk back into California to the base of the gondola, adjacent to the Marriott Resort. The gondola will take you up to the 9,100 foot level. From here, the summit of Monument Peak is due southeast. Hike up the steep slopes to the summit ridge. The summit is the rocky highpoint on the north end of the ridge. To get to Stagecoach or Boulder Lodges, take Nevada SR 207 to Daggett Pass and turn south on Tramway Drive. This will soon turn into a one way loop, and fork will come up, with a sign for Stagecoach Lodge to the left, and Boulder Lodge to the right. The northern approach from Stagecoach and Boulder Lodges can be hiked mainly on 4WD roads that lead to the summit ridge. Once at the summit ridge, make the final push to the summit.
Winter ascents of Monument Peak do not require so much work. The Sky Express Ski Lift will take you to 10,000 feet on the southern end of the summit ridge. From here, ski/board down Skyline Trail, which is the 4WD road. This will travel north, flanking the ridge. The final push the summit happens just prior to the road descending away from the ridge. Depending on the weather of the past few days, there will be a small path that leads uphill away from the ski run. If there hasn't been any major snowfall in the previous few days, that path should be very distinct. If there has been recent snowfall, you have the option of trailblazing up to the summit. Leave the ski run one turn before the "Welcome to Nevada" sign. There should be a small path that ascends up towards the ridge. Clip/strap out and hike up this path. Within 5 minutes, a small flat clearing will be reached. The summit is clearly visible from here. Walk due north, then quickly due east, before falling off the north face of the peak. Traverse the short north side of the summit pyramid, and head up the steep, snowy east side to the summit. There is a small, skinny tree stump that sticks out of the summit rocks. Re-trace your steps back to the Skyline Trail.
Thanks to Dragger for this info: "It might be interesting to note that there are now a couple of gates that you can legally ski through for access to the backcountry. One, specifically, is just to the skiers left after getting off of the Olympic lift, as I recall. You would eventually come out near the bottom of the gondola."
There are absolutely no permits or fees to pay from May to late September. Hiking during those months is completely legal. You may also hike in winter.
Correction added by Bob Burd: "Winter hiking is also allowed, but you must stay off the trails so as not to present a danger to skiers and snowboarders. Simply stay in the trees and use caution as you cross trails."
When To Climb
Monument Peak is hiked from the bottom when Heavenly is closed, which is usually from May until late September or early October. Winter months will require the chair lift ride to the summit ridge, then the short hike up to the summit.
Camping is technically not allowed on the mountain, but I'm sure nobody would care if you did. The summit makes an excellent camp or bivy site.
Blizzards can strike anytime in the winter, as can thunderstorms in the summer. Be prepared for any type of weather. A minimum of a wind breaker should be taken in the summer, and normal ski attire will suffice in the winter. There are three webcams on Monument Peak: the Tram Cam
, the Dipper Cam
, and the East Peak Cam
. Here is a full weather report