Day-trippin’ to Rose |

Day-trippin’ to Rose

Sylas Wright/Sierra SunWith Lake Tahoe in the background, Burden the Dalmatian rests atop the 10,776-foot summit of Mount Rose.

Mount Rose is an impressive chunk of real estate, jutting 10,776 feet into the sky and more than 4,500 feet above the shores of Lake Tahoe.

As one might guess, or know from firsthand experience, the panoramic view from atop the ancient volcanic knob is breathtaking ” and not only because of the lack of oxygen.

I suspected as much, but had never been. So what better destination for a weekend day hike?

After successfully pleading my case to neighbor J.R. (John Read) that Mount Rose was a better option than Sugar Bowl to Squaw ” 16 miles in one day was too far, I reasoned ” we rallied willing participants.

Brett Michaelsen, a lifelong friend of J.R.’s who lives in Incline Village, was the only taker. Of course, Burden the Dalmatian and Cassie the yellow Lab, Brett’s four-legged companions, were more than happy to accompany. For them, an open tailgate was invitation enough.

A short drive up Mount Rose Highway landed us at the Mount Rose Trailhead, where signs informed that the road, constructed in 1913, remains the Sierra’s highest year-round pass at 8,900 feet.

Mount Rose itself ” looking imposing even from far away ” towered to our north, its muddy brown tone and barren slopes set in stark contrast to the blue sky. Lake Tahoe, its wind-chopped surface shimmering in the sunlight, lay below and to our south.

The temperature was mild and the breeze slight, nearly enough to warrant a sweatshirt, but not quite. It was a perfect day for good, long walk.

We were off and hoofing by 10:30 a.m.

Less than 100 yards later, we had options: Turn right for a 4.8-mile trek to the Mount Rose summit; turn left for a 5.-something-mile trek. The decision was a no-brainer. We veered right.

After a short straight-away overlooking Tahoe and Tahoe Meadows, the trail dove into a forest of lodgepole pine, which soon became mixed with mountain hemlock. In the shadows, residual patches of snow clung to the banks.

Burden and Cassie ” who in my rough calculation covered about three, maybe four, times the trail’s distance by blissfully galloping ahead, then back, then in the direction of any moving object ” flocked to the dirty piles for a cold bite and a cool-down.

Walking easily across the undulating terrain, we arrived at a wide-open meadow and a cascading waterfall, which proved to be a popular destination for other hikers. Across the meadow was Mount Rose, in clear view, soaring over the landscape.

A short break and we were off again, starting our first legitimate climb toward the summit.

As the pitch grew steeper and the elevation higher, trees became dwarfed in size, mangled in appearance and fewer in numbers. Before long, all remnants of forest had succumbed to jagged rock.

Nearing the peak, passers-by returning from their own summit hikes offered what they apparently felt was needed encouragement, telling of how close we were while making their way back down.

We climbed higher as teaser views began to open up and leg muscles continued to burn.

Eventually, after several sucker’s summits ” as J.R. called them ” we reached the actual 10,776-foot summit of Mount Rose.

What a view.

What a wonderful perspective of the entire region, from the far stretches of Nevada’s Great Basin to the crest of the Sierra Nevada, to Mount Lassen to southern reaches of Carson Pass. You can see it all, 360 degrees of eye candy.

Parting ways was tough. So we didn’t for a good half hour, maybe longer.

Then a biting wind picked up as the sun dimmed behind high clouds.

It was time to return to real life.

Take Mount Rose Highway (Nevada Highway 431) northeast out of Incline Village. The Mount Rose Wilderness may be accessed via seven trailheads. From the Mount Rose Summit parking area, take the Mount Rose Trailhead less than 100 yards to a fork in the trail. Turn right for a 4.8-mile hike to the summit of Mount Rose; turn left for Relay Peak or for a slightly longer route to Mount Rose. Wilderness permits are not required, but campfire permits are.

Sylas Wright is the sports editor of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at

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