Cave Rock
South Camp Peak

Jul 18, 2014

With: Michele DiGiuseppe

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


It was the last day of a family reunion in Lake Tahoe and I hadn't planned on doing any hiking. But I wasn't really interested in the cliff diving that some of the youngsters had planned at Angora Lakes (I've got enough minor physical issues without creating major, newer ones). My sister suggested we go hiking somewhere "for a few hours". I told her to give me 15min to find someplace suitable. I picked out Cave Rock and South Camp Peak, both on the Nevada side and not too far from where we were staying in Stateline, and in short order we were out the door.

Cave Rock

This iconic feature is adjacent to the lake where US50 goes through a pair of tunnels. I knew the place to be a sport climbing spot well beyond my abilities and that it has been a spiritual place for the Washoe Indians, the two uses having come into conflict in the past. A perusal of the satellite view shows a trail leading for about half a mile to the summit and seemed worthy of a visit. The unsigned TH is located at a bend in Cave Rock Dr. on the east side of the highway, just before entering the tunnels from the south side. Another car was parked here when we arrived at 11:40a, belonging to a friendly trio of ladies we met shortly atop the summit. The trail appears to be an old road leading to the saddle just east of Cave Rock, and from there continues as a class 2 trail up the rocky east face of the summit. The views are very nice, unobstructed in all directions, with the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe looking like an Hawaiian reef. We exchanged picture-taking duties with the other party before starting back down. Immediately east of Cave Rock is a second, higher summit with a short but interesting granite edge leading up from the saddle. I visited its less-interesting summit amidst some trees before joining Michele back down to the trail.

South Camp Peak

This summit is located a short distance off the Tahoe Rim Trail between Spooner Summit and Kingsbury Grade. The shortest approach is via Spooner Summit and it was to this trailhead we headed next. It sits between the two higher, more popular summits of Genoa and Duane Bliss. I had visited those two OGUL summits some years earlier, but had neglected to pick up South Camp Peak along the way. I knew the roundtrip distance was close to 10mi and not really fitting into Michele's idea of "a few hours," but I figured we'd have a nice hike along the Rim Trail and see how it goes. I didn't keep this a secret, telling sis we'd hike up as far as she wanted before turning around. This didn't sit well with her - with three daughters, she wasn't used to being the one to call a halt to the hike and ask to turn around. I didn't realize at the time how nicely this would work to my favor - the closer we got to my summit the less likely she would be to give up. And so it went. It would take us just over two hours just to reach the summit. The last 1/3mi was cross-country, approaching the top from the west. This went over a brushy, leveled top area from where the rocky summit was blocked by trees. Michele wasn't fond at all of this scratchy stuff that worked at her legs much like our outing earlier in the week. Eventually I moved off over to the north side where trees cut down on the underbrush, and it became easier. Michele asked if we weren't going downhill, away from the summit now, but I told her to have faith. Soon enough, we emerged through the trees to find the high pile of rocks that marks the highpoint of South Camp on the very eastern edge of the large summit area.

The rocky top provided unobstructed views, south to Genoa Peak and north to Duane Bliss and across the Nevada side of the lake to Mt. Rose in the hazy distance. Taking her time on the unstable slopes, Michele caught up with me at the top after a few minutes, pausing to for a portrait and then taking a photo with the two of us. To avoid the brush altogether on the way back, I used the GPS to lead us on a descending traverse of the north slopes through the forest and back to the trail. There was some downfall to negotiate and the sidehilling was a bit trying for her, but Michele much preferred this route over the one we had used on the way up. It was shorter too, another advantage. Where we had taken two hours on the ascent, we were about 20min faster on the return, getting us back by 4:15p. It would be the last outing of the week, a fine way to end an enjoyable vacation in Tahoe. And Michele was a good sport about going almost 4hrs for her 2hr hike, complaining about it only to give me a hard time...

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This page last updated: Mon Jul 28 08:34:11 2014
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