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Looking out towards Lake Tahoe from Shirley-Silver Ridge during the Gondola Fire of July 4, 2002

Overview.  A nice quick day hike to escape the ever-present development of Squaw Valley.  A steep climb brings you to a rocky summit with great views of Lake Tahoe and the Granite Chief Wilderness.   

Hike Stats:


2.25 miles to Silver Peak summit



Trailhead:  6,250'

Summit:  8,424'

Cumulative Gain:  2,240'


Hiking time:  about 3-4 hours round trip


Map:  USGS Tahoe City 7.5 minute (Click here for an online trailmap)

Getting to the Trailhead:

Take Highway 89 north from Lake Tahoe (5 mi) or south from Truckee (9 mi) to Squaw Valley Road.  Turn onto Squaw Valley Road heading west.  At the end of the road, you will reach the parking lot for the Squaw Valley Ski Area village, where the road forks.  Take the right hand fork and continue up towards the end, where you will turn right to park near the Squaw Valley Fire Station.  There should be plenty of parking here in the summer.


Alternatively, this hike can start in the housing development above Christy Hill.  To get here, turn hard right near the aforementioned fork in the road (right in front of the Granite Chief Sports building) and head up the hill, bearing left where possible.  Aim for the large above ground water reservoir and look for a place to park without intruding on someone's property.

The Route:

The route up Silver Peak from this direction is not on trail, but follows one or more use trails in various places.  The route, however, is self-evident from the trailhead.  From either the fire station trailhead or the reservoir trailhead, your initial goal is to climb up to the ridge that runs from point 7,742' northwest to Silver Peak.  This ridge separates Shirley Canyon on the left from the Silver Creek drainage on the right.  I therefore call this ridge the "Shirley-Silver Ridge". 

The biggest initial challenge in gaining the ridge is to find a trail through the persistent dense brush that grows on the SW side of the ridge.  Generally, the best way is to contour in a NW direction along the 6,800' level, and then turn right and up into a broad gully that drops down to climber's left of point 7,742'.  This gully is largely brush-free, although it will likely contain some portions of tedious scree.

Photo:  Looking down on Squaw Valley from the top of the saddle on Shirley-Silver Ridge (click photo to enlarge).


Once on the ridge, the route is obvious:  head NW along the ridge until you get to the summit.  Along the ridge, you can either climb over or bypass several rock gendarmes that guard the Shirley-Silver Ridge.  Most of these are easy, the crux being the brush that hides below the rock towers.  The largest of these pinnacles I call the Shirley-Silver Spire, which when viewed from the NW is an impressive sight with Lake Tahoe behind it.  This spire is a fun little rock scramble (easy class 3) from the ridgetop.  From here, ascend the obvious SW face of Silver Peak to the summit, where you will find outstanding views over the Granite Chief Wilderness and Lake Tahoe.

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