Snow Valley Peak is well regarded as one of the most beautiful mountains in the Tahoe Basin. Located on the Nevada side, it's a pleasant hike from nearby Spooner Summit. This is the kind of hike you can do dozens of times and never get tired of. I honestly can't believe I've lived in Northern California for this long and only recently made it out to this place.
Snow Valley Peak Overview
Other than having one of the most panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, Snow Valley Peak has other accolades. Its located within a half a mile's hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail so its hard to imagine doing any section hike of the TRT without the summit. Snow Valley Peak is also within the city limits of Carson City making it a county high point and a county prominence point. It also lands on the Great Basin Peaks List and Tahoe Ogul List.
There was no fee for parking and hiking from Spooner Summit. However the nearby Spooner Lake and Backcountry is a Nevada State Park with an entrance fee.
Map of Snow Valley Peak Hike from Spooner Summit
My hike from Spooner Summit to Snow Valley Peak was 12.67 miles with 2,325' of gain and minimal altitude loss to the summit. Most fit hikers do this in about 1/2 to 3/4ths of a day. Although the altitude is considerable, there are no particularly steep sections
Starting from Spooner Summit (elevation 7,146'), I carefully crossed Highway 50 and started up the Tahoe Rim Trail. For the first 4.2 miles the trail is shaded and steadily gains altitude on its way to the junction with North Canyon Rim Trail Connector (elevation 8,350'). Along the way there were a few directional views and overlooks.
The next 2.2 miles to the summit were simply stunning. The view of the Lake Tahoe Basin is entirely unobstructed. The lake's sapphire waters are extremely vivid from this viewpoint especially contrasted against the Crystal Range to the west. My pace slowed to a standstill as I took in the views.
At 5.9 miles from the trailhead, the Tahoe Rim Trail intersects with a Jeep Trail. I took a right turn on the Jeep Trail, walked 150 feet and took another right on the Snow Valley Peak trail. After another 0.4 miles, I gained the summit. The actual high point (elevation 9,218′) was obvious and there was a nice summit register. It took me about 2 hours to reach the top from Spooner Summit.
I returned the way I came and completed the hike in about 4 hours.
Overall this was a phenomenal hike. Although its a well known hike, I only saw a handful of other hikers. The distance and elevation gain perhaps limit the more casual hikers. This is certainly one of those summits that's worth doing more than once.