Mt. Rose Trail Opens

The opening of a new trailhead around Lake Tahoe is always a day to celebrate, and last Friday a bunch of hikers and outdoors folk gathered near the top of the Mt. Rose Highway near the Tahoe Meadows to do just that. The occasion - the opening of a new Welcome Center and trallhead.

Gary Schiff, Carson District ranger for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, offered the introduction. Standing in the shadow of the $500,000 as yet unnamed Welcome Center, Schiff said, "The hike to the top of the trail maybe the premier hike in Northern Nevada. The views are absolutely stunning, and now there's a safe place to park."

He was right. A paved parking lot big enough for 50 cars and six RV abuts the handsome new center, which houses four toilets and many signs. It's a far cry from the old days when there was perhaps space for two cars just off the roaring 55 mph traffic. Last Friday the Street Vibrations motorcyclists boomed by often enough to drown out the speeches.

Right now there are temporary signs about the history of the area. Soon the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Tahoe Rim Trail and Washoe County people will create permanent signs.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies were Robert Vaughn, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest supervisor; Maribeth Gustafson, Lake Tahoe Management Unit supervisor; Washoe commissioner Jim Galloway; Katie Signlaub, Washoe County manager; Vickie Francovich, representing the construction company Building Solutions; Jeff Fontaine, NDOT state supervisor.

Funds for the center came from NDOT at $400,000, with $100,000 coming from the U.S. Forest Service. Washoe County funded the design.

Trail refurnishing was furnished by volunteers from the Rim Trail and other organizations. A new 3.5-mile loop trail has been completed but signage isn't finished yet.

Meanwhile, the trail starting at the rear of the Welcome Center is sheer beauty. With limited time, this writer could only make it about a mile and a half along the unnamed trek, but the views from the first 500 feet are spectacular. Lake Tahoe stretched out to the southwest, and looking the other way Washoe Valley was a green belt. Directly down from the trail was Tahoe Meadows, with hiking trails crisscrossing and another hiking center across Highway 431.

The first part of the trail is moderate, but then it smoothes out to easy. Where it plunges into trees it dips downward. Surface is mostly groomed dirt with a few stone steps early on. Along the trail are tempting side trips, but the Forest Service probably wouldn't approve. A large boulder along the trail bears the marks of glaciers rolling stones on its side, leaving a series of neat holes.

For someone who had never hiked the Mt. Rose area, this new facility and trail open vistas for future jaunts. Maybe we'll meet one day there.

Contact Sam Bauman at or 881-1236.


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