Ellis Peak & Lake (Lake Tahoe, California) 18-Aug-2020

We were a bit rattled by all the people we encountered on the trail during our first hike at Lake Tahoe. So we we cast around for something a little (actually at lot) less popular and came up with Ellis Lake and Ellis Peak. The trailhead for these is only five miles by paved road from our cabin, so an early start wouldn’t require too much effort.

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Mount Elwell (Sierra Nevada) 07-Aug-2016

Mount Elwell Tahoe National Forest California

Mount Elwell (7,818 feet) overlooks Long Lake in the heart of the Lakes Basin Recreation Area in the Tahoe National Forest north of Lake Tahoe.  We were attracted to this peak because it provided a reason to visit the Lakes Basin and because of its presence on the Sierra Peak Section’s list (SPS List) – note that we’re not “finishing the list”, only using it for hike ideas.  Though it’s an easy hike to the summit, arriving there provides an exceptional view of the Lakes Basin below it, as well as of the Sierra Buttes, Weber Peak, and Sardine Peak to the south and southeast; Mount Lassen can also been seen to the northwest on a clear day (which wasn’t true this day due to forest fire smoke haze). We got to the Lakes Basin trailhead near Elwell Lodge early enough to find only a few cars already in the small parking lot. Unfortunately, The LovedOne discovered a hike-ending equipment shortfall soon after our arrival, but then generously volunteered to wait for me at the trailhead.  Sigh.  Because of the waiting, I promised to do this loop hike as fast as possible.

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Sierra Buttes (Sierra Nevada) 06-Aug-2016

Sierra Buttes Tahoe National Forest California

The Sierra Buttes (8,591 feet) are a striking geological feature in the Tahoe National Forest near the Lakes Basin Recreation Area.  They are composed of highly erosion resistant quartz prophry that exploded from undersea volcanoes about 300 million years ago.  We were attracted to them – as are many others – by the unique lookout on their high point, their presence on the Sierra Peak Section’s list (SPS List), and the fact that we hadn’t spent much time in this northern part of the Sierras.  Later we would find that this lookout is billed as a major tourist attraction in just about every brochure covering this part of the Sierra Nevada.  You can drive – probably not with a 2WD sedan – to within 0.5 miles of the lookout but we opted to hike up from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) trailhead off Forest Road 93-02 (you can also do a longer hike up by starting at Packer Lake).  We got to the trailhead fairly early only to find several cars already there, dirt bikers roaring along the road, and a way station for a mountain bike race that was scheduled to start soon. We would also encounter a lot of people along the trail.  Our bad for doing this hike on a weekend!

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