Ralston Peak Trail

MODERATE 140 reviews
#4 of 62 trails in

Ralston Peak Trail is a 6.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Twin Bridges, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2775 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

rock climbing

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

washed out

The thigh-burner of Lake Tahoe, Mt. Ralston rewards intrepid day-hikers with stunning mountain overlooks. There are many sights to wonder over as you snake eastward along US-50 towards Lake Tahoe, but Mt. Ralston isn't one of them despite being situated right next to the road. Not that it's unworthy, but simply because the 9,235ft peak is obscured from view. This route traces a long route up the steep flanks of Mt. Ralston and into the Desolation Wilderness, rewarding the intrepid day-hiker with stunning mountain overlooks.

hiking
6 days ago

Perfect day hike. Trail completely open from trailhead to summit now. Wildflowers everywhere especially near summit. Creek is still full and flowing.

Desolation Wilderness is perfection right now, get out there.

7 days ago

No snow. beautiful hike.

14 days ago

snow is all gone did this trail 3 weeks ago an you had 40 minutes of snow to go though as of 6 /2 less tha two minutes to go through great hike so awesome on top great views

1 month ago

Snow starts at mile 2.5 . Beautiful view at the peak as always! Ralston Lake still covered with snow.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. Snow for about 1/4 of the trip near the summit. Great views!

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike today. Still lots of snow near the top which makes it a bigger challenge. It was warm for the first half but once you hit the snow we also were smacked with pretty windy conditions. I would prefer it later in the summer when the snow melts but for those looking for a more difficult hike, this could be it.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this trail today with my friends. Steady climb for sure Still a lot of snow Top was very cold but worth the view Good day on Mount Ralston

1 month ago

Packed my snowshoes just because and was glad I did. Still enough snow covering the trail to make it more challenging. Cold and windy at the top with no place to hide. Coming down was fun, the snow was melting a bit and it mage for some slippery going. Love this hike, worth the effort.

hiking
1 month ago

Great run today, no crampons, top third solid snow stayed hard till about 10.. harder run than no snow for sure,

hiking
1 month ago

The difficulty/reward ratio on this trail is in favor of hikers who want to complete one of their first summits and boast, "so yeah, this weekend I climbed a mountain... No biggie." At 6.5 miles total, it is brief and perfect for a day hike. Make no mistake, however, it isn't a walk in the park the whole way up. Your legs will get a work out.

Shortly after the trailhead, which is located at a parking lot along I-50 that is often not plowed between Dec-Mar, a series of switchbacks zigzagging their way through a densely forested area begin. This goes on quite a bit, and takes up a significant portion of the hike. Those who want spectacular views - fear not! - as the views begin once you get in the clearer area at a higher elevation where less vegetation grows. It will start to get steep and you may be wishing for those gentle switchbacks you were on recently.

Speaking of vegetation, near the summit you will pass contorted and twisted trees known as "Krumholtz", German for "crooked wood". Looking like something out of a Guillermo del Doro film, these deformed trees live a tough life due to incessant wind and snow. Soak in the views of Lake Tahoe, various other alpine lakes including Aloha Lake, Mt Tallac in the distance, from the summit.

Bonus: at your own risk, on the right side of the summit, there is a Class 3 scramble on extremely loose rocks and climb that can get you to one of the lakes.

hiking
1 month ago

I just did this hike today. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the top because of all the snow. I kept slipping and sliding and decided I'd have to come back and try again once it melts a little more! But the climb up was an awesome workout, and it's a beautiful trail :)

2 months ago

Cool hike especially if you are getting ready for longer trips. I went to the top on 4/13/18 and the last rain had washed away the previous footprints towards the top so having a gps made it a lot easier to follow. While following my footsteps out I found some bear prints next to mine that weren’t there during the hike up.

hiking
7 months ago

I would recommend the Mount Tallac hike to this one. Also the distances are a bit skewed. At the trail head it lists it as one way 4.1 miles. I tracked about 3.8 miles one way - so much shorter than what is listed (Alltrails lists it at 3.2 miles one way which is a bit short than what it really is). The elevation gained also is about 2800 ft - a bit lower than what is listed in alltrails. The views from the top are excellent though.

7 months ago

great views

8 months ago

My soul is filled with the holy spirit of Mother Earth. Such beauty!

hiking
8 months ago

This was a great hike, you have to work hard to get to the top. Early snow for us but nothing unmanageable, glad we brought wind jackets for a quick lunch at the top. Must have been couples day, each group we passed was a couple. Coming down the trail is an equally good workout, my feet felt the downhill.

8 months ago

Such a good workout with the reward of amazing views at the top!

hiking
9 months ago

This is a very steep, strenuous climb, but the distance is relatively short, and it was much more pleasant than I remember. The trail was still moist and verdant, the wild flowers were blooming once the elevation is gained, and the view from the peak is spectacular. We ran into very few hikers all along, and we were solo at the top of the peak, enjoyed our late lunch, awed in nature. The view was a bit hazy though perhaps due to Yosemite wild fire.
We’ve done the part of this trail several years ago when we hiked to Lake Aloha via this trail, out and back (didn’t make right to the peak, kept going straight to the lakes direction). It was around the same time of a year (early September), but it was in the year of draught, so everything was drier, Lake Aloha was mere puddle, and the whole hike was much longer, so finishing up the long hike with this steep trail left me an impression that this trail was strenuous, relentless, hot and dry. It makes a huge difference if the trail is green with flowers, and offers a panoramic view as a reward.
It’s a great, relatively short, very hard hike with a spectacular view as a reward.

hiking
9 months ago

Totally worth the view recommend having some pretty good cardio and fresh pair of legs as it is a pretty strenuous hike to the top but the view is worth it!

hiking
9 months ago

Steep trail, for sure... but well worth it. Some great views of Desolation, Tahoe and the Valley. The boys (10, 9, and 7) and I summmitted today. Take lots of water and a good hat, as shelter is scarce towards the top.

hiking
9 months ago

My favorite Hike. A great training hike, this will make you work for it.

9 months ago

Great trail. Gorgeous views. Unrelentingly steep to the top but a very manageable length. Did it with my 10 month old on my back and had a great time.

hiking
9 months ago

total butt-kicker. i wouldn't rate this as moderate- really. it's uphill and pretty steep in some sections the entire way. i'm a relatively fit person and i hike all the time and this still kicks my butt every time i do it. that being said if you're a triathlete or a serious athlete, it probably is a moderate hike for you. . but for the rest of us i would rate it as strenuous. it's really lovely though. .i mean the views from the summit are truly mind blowing and the wildflowers as you come out of the manzanita grove on the final ascent are really sweet (especially in AUGUST!) my caveat would be to bring a TON of water and drink it. i have done this hike twice this summer - and many others in between- and i have managed to become dehydrated both times. the first time i drank 96 ounces and this last time i drank 128 and still suffered symptoms.
i would give it 5 stars on a not busy day but there were lots of people at the summit and there is very little room. one woman answered her phone and had a heated conversation right up there with the rest of us trying to enjoy nature. you would think that someone who appreciated nature would have some manners, but no- she didn't even try to move away from the top. just blocked our views and continued her conversation. most people were lovely though.
i wouldn't recommend bringing your dog although many people did. if you are going to bring your dog, carry plenty of water for it and try to hit the trail before 8am. i am constantly dismayed by people hiking up and dragging their dogs in the heat of the day. just because they do it doesn't mean they are fine. dogs do die on trails bc owners don't know how to recognize signs of heat exhaustion and think that just giving them water will be enough. so if you are going to bring your dog - please make sure it is fit enough for the demands of the trail, go early, carry plenty of water and turn around if your dog shows signs of distress like excessive panting, seeking out shade, lying down and not wanting to move.
for us humans, also be sure you are fit. and if you are showing signs of exhaustion you should also turn around. the way down isn't much easier than the way up when your beat.
the trail forks right at the base of the final ascent. To the right it goes up steeply and it's shorter climb to the summit and to the left it meanders around with more switchbacks and is not as steep from what i hear but it is longer ( i also think that's the way you would go to get to lake aloha but am not 100% sure) . i took the right hand option and while it was very steep, it was only took about 30minutes to gain the summit from that junction (and i stopped to take some pictures along the way and chat with people resting on the side of the trail). not sure how long the other way would take.
in any event, it's a really great workout/hike/view and a must do for those who like that sort of thing.

9 months ago

Great hike, easily accessible from highway 50. The trek up is steep at times, but the mileage is fairly short and I made it up in a little under 2 hours. Few water sources, if any, so bring enough with you. The summit has one of the most complete views of Desolation that I've ever seen, amazing! Not much scrambling and the trail is pretty obvious the entire way up.

hiking
10 months ago

It was a rough hike but definitely worth the views. Uphill the whole way, probably should have read more reviews to prepare us. My husband and I did Mt. Tallac last summer and this was comparable in difficulty.

hiking
10 months ago

Beautiful!
My friend and I are still beginners when it comes to bigger hikes so this one wore us out! The hike up was really steep but the views at the top were definitely worth it. We couldn't believe how breath taking it was up there. It took us 4 hours to get up (but again, we are beginners) and about an hour and a half to get down. A must-do/see for sure.

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked this Sat. July 29th, 2017.
No snow on the trail at all!
Stunning views from the top.
We need to get some fresh sign in tablets in the cans on to. Practically every square inch is covered. Remember, drink plenty of water!

hiking
10 months ago

Took a group of 12 on a Saturday, and the hike exceeded my expectations. Not crowded at all and the views were absolutely stunning, you could see the entirety of Desolation Wilderness. Definitely steep and it's like a stair master all the way up. But because of the minimal mileage to the top, I'd agree it's moderate. We lost the trail a bit while on the loop because of the snow, but eventually found it again. Bring extra water!

hiking
10 months ago

First significant hike, went solo at dawn. Beautiful, peaceful, difficult in places, well worth it. When you get to the split go left for slow longer and gradual rise, go right for much quicker but much steeper ascent.

hiking
11 months ago

Definitely a thigh burner. Went out with a group of 7 ladies. We all made it to the top, knowing the view would be worth. Gorgeous up top and lost of butterflies flying around us. Loved this one, and my favorite hike so far. Will do this again. This says it a "moderate" hike, we all agree it's more advanced. The sign at Ralston Peak trail head, said it was "difficult"

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