Ralston Peak

Desolation Wilderness, California

Distance1.5mi
Elevation Gain853ft
Trailhead Elevation8,851ft
Top8,851ft
Elevation Min/Max8335/8851ft
Elevation Start/End8851/8851ft

Ralston Peak

Ralston Peak is a hiking and horse trail in El Dorado County, California. It is within Desolation Wilderness. It is 1.5 miles long and begins at 8,851 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 853 feet. Along the trail there is a meadow. This trail connects with the following: Ralston Peak (17E41), Pacific Crest Trail (TRT) and Ralston Peak (17E41.4).

Ralston Peak Professional Reviews and Guides

"Although the climb is steady and stiff, where else in the Tahoe Basin can you achieve such a grand view with only a 3-mile hike? Most hikers favor the route to Ralston Peak from Echo Lakes, which is a mile longer via the water taxi (3.5 miles longer without) but requires 800 fewer feet of elevation gain. This being the case, you may not have to share the serenity of the route described below with too many other hikers."

"Incredible views of a dozen glacial lakes and prominent peaks from a vista point 1,100 feet above Desolation Valley are yours to enjoy as you begin ascending the lateral moraine forming Pyramid Creek’s canyon. The trail climbs at a consistent rate for the first third of the hike then tests your lungs and legs for just over a mile before resuming a more reasonable slope to the summit.

A few switchbacks send you traversing through the Jeffrey pines and white firs that shade you at the outset on the flank of this ice-carved chunk of rock. A beautiful vista point lies less than 0.3 mile from the trailhead. As you stand in this open, sandy spot, Pyramid Creek’s canyon spreads out in front of you like a gaping tear in the mountain."

"Although the climb is steady and stiff, where else in the Tahoe Basin can you achieve such a lofty view with only a 3-mile hike in? Most hikers seem to favor the route to Ralston Peak from Echo Lakes, which is a mile longer via the water taxi (3.5 miles longer without) but requires 800 less feet of elevation gain. With this being the case, you may not have to share the serenity of the route described below with too many other hikers."

"Ralston Peak rises immediately from the South Fork of the American River canyon. The peak sits on the southern edge of Desolation Valley Wilderness Area with a commanding view of Lake Aloha, Echo Lake, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Peak, Price Peak, Jacks Peak, Dicks Peak, Mount Tallac, and the numerous lakes and peaks in the wilderness area. This is a great intermediate trip in an outstanding setting."

Ralston Peak Reviews

4
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
icon1 Total
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
5/25/2009
Well where to start? My topo from REI was not the most accurate but, in all fairness what did I expect from a 24,000:1 scale? If I had a topo with a better level of detail I would have felt more comfortable ad libbing as I approached the peak. It is ascent from the git-go with few level or descents along the way. Some of the ascent is quite challenging, or at least it was for me. This is a good shade trail even as the sun is vertical in the sky. There are plenty of side treks to the west that offer some nice views of the valley down to Twin Bridges. To the east of the trail starting about half way up is a steady creek flow that offers nice background sound to the hike. close to the peak at about 9000 ft. the trail is suppose to wrap around to the west (left) but it appears the remaining snow pack has that blocked off. Instead, it appears that some hikers blazed a new trail straight up toward the peak with weak zig-zags. Unfortunately, there is a 40+ yard snow field between the trail and the peak. I was in hiking shoes and shorts and not equipped should the 4 foot thick pack decide to give way under my weight. I estimate I was 100 yards and about 200 vertical feet from the peak. Still, the view was awesome. You can clearly see Sierra at Tahoe and behind it, Kirkwood. I am told that the view of the lakes and valley leading to Horsetail Falls is quite beautiful. I recommend starting this hike no later than 11 AM in the mid summer period to ensure ample time to enjoy the trek and return before nautre's dinner bell rings. It is definitely a good work-out and if you are a trail runner this would be quite the challenge.
0
Comments

Ralston Peak Photos

Trail Information

Desolation Wilderness
Nearby City
Desolation Wilderness
Parks
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
Snowboarding
Additional Use
Eldorado National Forest
Local Contacts