Signal Peak is the high point along the ridge also known as Red Mountain. The peak commands fine views of the Yuba River Canyon and the Sierra Crest. One would think the name of the peak is derived from the large complex of radio and cellular towers that occupy the high point. However, its name pre-dates the cell phone era. To the western portion of the ridge sits an old Central Pacific Railroad Fire Lookout. The old stone building was built in 1909, and was subsequently abandoned in 1934. It was used over the years to alert trains to track hazards, particularly avalanches.
Signal Peak is popular with all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. In the warmer months, the areas must be shared by hikers, mountain bikers and off-road vehicles. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) a dirt road leads all the way to the summit, and such, it's not unusual to see 4wd vehicles in the summer. In winter, Signal Peak makes an excellent backcountry ski and snowshoe destination. There are tons of potential decent routes along both faces of the ridge.
Signal Peak is listed on the Tahoe OGUL Peak List.
There are at least two routes to the summit.
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, sno-park permits can be purchased from the small store at the park. As of January 2005, the cost was $10.00 per vehicle. In summer, trailhead parking is free.
The beauty of Signal peak is its relative ease of access. You can just as easily climb it in the winter as the summer. After particularly large storms in winter, the parking lot may not be plowed, making access more difficult.
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.
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If you're interested in railroad history as it pertains to the Central Pacific lookout on Signal Peak, a good source of information can be found at CPRR.org