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Hike Mt. Rose for a Peak Experience

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The Mt. Rose trail is a great hike for a family outing. The well-graded and maintained trail is suitable for children and open to your well-behaved and controlled pet*. You will enjoy a rewarding hiking experience whether you trek all the way to the summit of Mt. Rose or just meander partway.

Hike to the Waterfall on Galena Creek

Hikers starting out on the Mt. Rose summit trail are immediately rewarded with big views to the south of Tahoe Meadows and Lake Tahoe. The smooth tread continues into open woods of limber pine and hemlock for a leisurely stroll to panoramas of Mt. Rose itself and the lush meadow at its base. At about the halfway point to the summit, a waterfall formed by Galena Creek cascades over a rocky slope. The water then spreads out to nourish wildflowers and other vegetation surrounding this part of the trail. You will have been hiking for about 2.65 miles on a section of the Tahoe Rim Trail to get to the waterfall. This is a good turn around point for those not continuing on to the Mt. Rose summit. Before heading back, though, check out the meadow downstream from the trail for wildflowers, which can be profuse if you are there at just the right time.

Views from the Mt. Rose summit Trail, Nevada
Views of Tahoe Meadows and Lake Tahoe from the Mt. Rose Trail. Photo © Stan White

Hike to the Mt. Rose Summit

The grade becomes steeper when you continue beyond the waterfall, entering the Mt. Rose Wilderness and beginning the final push to Mt. Rose's summit. As you would expect, the views expand with every step. On top, you'll have a 360 degree look for miles, from Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada to the south to the Truckee Meadows and beyond to the north. See how many things you can identify while peering around the compass. You'll be scanning the landscape from an elevation of 10,776 feet.

The trailhead elevation is 8,900 feet. Hikers who make it all the way will have gained 1,876 feet and be standing two miles above sea level. At the conclusion of the return trip, you will have hiked about 10.6 miles.

There is no water beyond the waterfall and meadow. It will be a lot cooler on Mt. Rose than down in Reno, so bring clothing for a crisp day in the mountains and be prepared for sudden changes in weather. Thunderstorms can build up amazingly fast, kicking up wind and causing the temperature to plunge rapidly. If you are high on the mountain when a thunderstorm is brewing, and especially if you see lightning or hear thunder, turn around and head down quickly. The summit will still be there for another try.

Lake Tahoe view from summit of Mt. Rose, Nevada
Lake Tahoe view from the summit of Mt. Rose. Photo © Stan White

The Mt. Rose Trailhead

Drive south from Reno on U.S. 395 / I580. Take the exit just past The Summit mall and follow signs pointing you toward Lake Tahoe and Incline Village. You will commence a steady climb through the Galena area and into the trees near Galena Creek Visitor Center and Recreation Area. Continue on this wide but twisty road, past the Mt. Rose ski area to the Mt. Rose Trailhead at the 8900' summit of the pass. There is lots of parking, though I've seen it get just about full on busy weekends. The trail begins around the left side of the information signs and restrooms.

*About Hiking with Dogs - Dog owners, control your pets at all times on the Mt. Rose trail. Other hikers do not appreciate loose dogs running amuck and approaching them uninvited, especially those with small children. Unleashed dogs are a hazard to others and could set you up for a hefty lawsuit should your pet frighten or injure someone. Dogs also harass and scare off animals, depriving others of wildlife viewing experiences. And while you're at it, pick up your dog's poop. The poop fairy does not work on Mt. Rose.

Mt. Rose, Nevada
View of Mt. Rose from the trail leading to the summit. Photo © Stan White

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