Jun 14, 2020

State: CA
Distance: 10.2 mi
Gain: 3,350 ft
Peaks: 3

Eldorado National Forest

8,997 ft
337 ft
9,450 ft
310 ft
9,020 ft
280 ft

I had three peaks left to complete the Freel Peak Quad, all of which were situated above Saxon Creek on the south end of Lake Tahoe. None of the peaks were particularly difficult, and it turned out to be a good hike to take my dog, Toby. I arrived at the pullout on the north side of Highway 89 around 8 AM, which was early enough to find a good parking spot. The trailhead I used provides a shortcut for accessing Mr. Toads Wild Ride, a popular mountain bike ride in the area. Throughout the day I would see several dozen riders, and I had to be careful in a few areas to avoid getting hit on some of the downhill sections.

Desolation Wilderness and Echo Lake from the summit of Peak 8997.

I followed the trail for roughly a mile then went up the hillside in the general direction of Peak 8997. There was open forest with minimal deadfall throughout the day, which made for pleasant hiking conditions. There were even a few grassy meadows on the ridges where I stopped to throw the ball for Toby. Peak 8997 had the best views of the day, with a nice unobstructed view directly toward Echo Lake and Desolation Wilderness.

Lake Tahoe from the summit of Peak 9450.

From Peak 8997 I followed the ridge until I joined the Tahoe Rim Trail. This was the first time I had been on this section of the trail since I did the TRT back in 2010. After a little over a mile, I came to the junction with Mr. Toads Wild Ride, which I only needed to stay on briefly until I reached Saxon Creek. From there, I left the trail and stuck mainly to the ridges, first going to Peak 9450 then Peak 9020. Peak 9450 had a nice view of Lake Tahoe and Freel Peak. Peak 9020 was mostly in the trees with minimal views.

Crossing Saxon Creek.

On the way back, I descended into the Saxon Creek drainage, then regained the ridge on the opposite side to join back up with the Tahoe Rim Trail. I ran into many more riders coming up the trail on my way out. By 2 PM I had made it back to the trailhead. I had originally planned another hike in the afternoon from the Big Meadow Trailhead, but the trailhead parking was so crowded that I decided to save that hike for another day.