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Hike of the week: Galena Falls

August 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Extreme Tahoe

Vistas, Lakes and Wildflowers: Galena Falls

Description: Every Saturday during the summer, the Tahoe Rim Trail Association will feature a hike that highlights an amazing vista, a beautiful alpine lake or a meadow blanketed in beautiful wildflowers. All of the hikes begin at 8am. Please register for all TRTA guided public guided hikes by visiting this link.

Galena Falls: Join us for a hike that will meet at the Mt. Rose Trailhead and Parking Plaza off of Hwy 431 at 8am on Saturday, August 20th. Please register here.

This hike gives you Falls, Vistas and Wildflowers and is just an incredibly beautiful day hike that begins 8,990’ at the Mt. Rose Trailhead and Parking Plaza off of Mt. Rose Hwy. Begin your journey by reading the fantastic interpretive signs near the restrooms to learn a little more about how the Tahoe Basin was formed. As you walk behind the restrooms, you will see the trail. Almost immediately, you will need to take a sharp right, so that you end up on the trail that leads toward Mt. Rose and not on the old fire road trail.

Once you hang a Ralph, you will begin to ascend a sandy trail that is open and lined on each side with lovely lupine and paintbrush. The Tahoe Meadows will open up below you to the south. Continue to follow the trail as it gradually winds upward. You will soon be blessed with incredible views of the Tahoe Meadows and Lake Tahoe. The vistas are worth some photos, so don’t forget your camera.

You will just continue to follow the trail as it begins to enter the forest approximately 1 mile from the trailhead. You will be traversing the side of volcanic Tamarack Peak on your way to Galena Falls. The trail levels out nicely and you can expect some rolling ups and downs before arriving at the falls; nothing too strenuous though. This is a great trail, because the trail tread is level and remains at about a 24” width, so perfect for group hikes.

Make sure you just look around as you hike this trail, and notice the beauty that exists in an alpine environment. You will begin to see dwarf lupine hugging the ground, whitebark pine, and rugged terrain that remains from the volcanic activity that once shook up this area.

The treat of the trail is cascading Galena Falls! At 2.5 mile from the trailhead you arrive at the base of the falls, and this is a great photo spot. Please respect the delicate environment of the falls, and do not climb up the side of it. The Tahoe Rim Trail Association is beginning a trail project that will create an official trail that climbs next to the falls. Leave No Trace is a beautiful thing because it ensures that future trail users will get to enjoy this special place.

You will notice at the base of the falls that the Tahoe Rim Trail will turn sharply to the east and then to the north. There is a simple creek crossing, and then shortly you will come to a fork which is the TRT/Mt. Rose junction. Make sure you take a left and begin to climb the old Relay Peak Road/TRT. Galena Falls will be to your left and recognize that this will be the most difficult part of your hike. The road climbs steeply to a wet alpine meadow above the falls. Be sure to bring your field guide along and take the time to identify some of the brilliant wildflowers!

As you continue on the road, you will come to another intersection, which is a dirt and gravel road that cannot be mistaken. If you were to turn right at the road you would continue on a steep climb toward Relay Peak, which is the highest peak on the TRT at 10,338.’ This is your signal to turn left and begin your hike on the road, which will take you south toward the Tahoe Meadows and Hwy 431. The road will eventually curve back east and gradually take you on a long downhill back to the trailhead and parking lot.

Distance / Expected Duration: Approximately 6.5 miles

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate Difficult Strenuous Herculean

Starting Elevation: 8,990 feet

Fitness Level and/or Special Skills Necessary: This hike may not be the best option for your family and friends that just came up from the Bay Area. Altitude sickness is a realistic possibility on this hike, as it starts at nearly 9,000 feet. This is not a difficult hike, and the trail is very level. Take your time and realize that a trip to Galena Falls is only 4.5 miles long if you just want to do that hike.

Water on the Trail: Carry at least 1 liter of water per person on this hike or fill up at Galena Falls, but always filter your water.

Trailhead/s: is on Hwy 431 near Tahoe Meadows 17 miles west of US 395. Paved parking, interpretive signs & vault toilets.

From Incline Village / East Shore & South Shore of Lake Tahoe / Carson City
Take 50 till hwy. 28.
Then take 28 into Incline Village.
At the first traffic light make a right onto Country Club.
Go to the stop sign (2 miles) and then make a right onto 431.
Go approximately 4-5 miles to the top of the mountain… It’ll open up into a big meadow.
At the end of the meadow go around the bend to the actual summit.
The parking area is on the left hand side.

From West Shore of Lake Tahoe
Take 89 N. into Tahoe City.
Make a right onto hwy. 28.
Take 28 almost all the way into Incline Village.
After you pass the sign for the town make a left onto hwy. 431.
Go roughly 9 miles to the top of the mountain… It’ll open up into a big meadow.
At the end of the meadow go around the bend to the actual summit.
The parking area is on the left hand side.

From Truckee / Auburn / Sacramento / San Francisco
Take 80 (east or west) to exit 188 B toward Sierraville / Lake Tahoe
Turn Right (if coming from the west) or left (if coming from the east) onto 267
Go over Brockway Summit to Kings Beach.
At the light go left onto 28.
Take 28 toward Incline Village.
After you pass the sign for the town make a left onto hwy. 431.
Go roughly 9 miles to the top of the mountain… It’ll open up into a big meadow.
At the end of the meadow go around the bend to the actual summit.
The parking area is on the left hand side.

From Reno
Take Hwy 395 S. till hwy. 431.
Go west on the Mt. Rose hwy (a.k.a. 431)
Go up to the top of the mountain and park in the parking area on the right at the actual summit.

Hike smart this summer!
• Make sure you carry sufficient water and snacks.
• Dress appropriately for the weather. Bring layers of clothing. The weather changes quickly in the Sierra.
• Wear proper footwear. Take care of your feet to prevent blisters and other foot issues.
• Tell someone where you are going, and when you are expected back.
• Carry a cell phone that you can use to call for help, if you get into trouble.
• Pack a simple first-aid kit in your pack.
• Stay within the limits of your ability and let common sense be your guide before and during your adventure.
• Leave no Trace this summer! Follow the LNT 7 principles. Care for our wild places and trails!

Trail Etiquette
• Cyclists yield to hikers and hikers and cyclists yield to equestrians
• Always travel at a safe, controlled speed and alert other trail users as you approach from behind.
• Never approach or harass wildlife or domestic animals on the trail. Please do not feet wild animals. It negative impacts their health and survival.
• Stay on the trail. It’s there for a reason!
• Please do not pick wildflowers. Let everyone enjoy them. Some wildflowers are protected by law, and you could get fined for picking them.

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