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Ralston Peak

Difficult
 4.6 (21) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

It's hard to beat the ratio of distance to views on this trail even though the climb is quite tough.


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Map Key

5.8

Miles

9.3

KM

Out and Back

9,149' 2,789 m

High

6,532' 1,991 m

Low

2,617' 798 m

Up

2,616' 797 m

Down

17%

Avg Grade (10°)

39%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Views

Overview

With less than 3 miles to travel to the top of Ralston Peak, it would be hard to find a better bang for your buck than this trail. The climb is steep, and rises 2,600 feet, but the views are outstanding. It's a route definitely worth checking out if you just have time for one great hike.

Description

There's a small trailhead parking lot on the north side of Rte. 50, right across from the Sacramento campground. Follow the dirt road to the obvious parking, or if that's full, you can park along Rte. 50.

The trail starts climbing right from the trailhead, mellows out a bit at about .75 miles in, and then really kicks up at about 1.5 miles in. You'll start out making your way through a dense forest of fir trees, with plenty of shade. You'll get close to Tamarack Creek for a bit - enjoy the lush vegetation and wildflowers there, but before long, you'll start working to gain the ridge, navigating switchbacks through more open, drier forest.

Around 2.3 miles, look for a junction, with a less-worn trail heading off to the right (northeast) to Ralston Peak. Take this small branch, and finish out the climb through beautiful wildflowers, and then continue over a rocky section. You’ll be rewarded with epic views of the Desolation Wilderness and a far away glimpse of Lake Tahoe.

Contacts

Shared By:

Michael Ahnemann

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 21 votes

#462

Overall
  4.6 from 21 votes
5 Star
57%
4 Star
43%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#80

in California

#462

Overall
164 Views Last Month
9,782 Since Aug 9, 2016
Difficult

0%
0%
16%
11%
74%
0%

Photos

Love Mt. Ralston, 90% dirt trail, lots of shade, well marked and maintained route. Lots of back for the buck on this hike a  surprisingly spectacular view. You won't be disappointed.
Aug 18, 2019 near South L…, CA
Ralston, Tamarack, and Echo Lakes from Ralston Peak summit.
Aug 31, 2016 near South L…, CA
Looking across at Pyramid Peak w/ Lake Aloha & Lake of the Woods on the right.
Oct 21, 2017 near South L…, CA
Ralston and Tamarack Lakes taken from the summit of Ralston Peak. Looking east at Lake Tahoe.
Sep 10, 2017 near South L…, CA
Toward Lake Aloha from Ralston Peak summit.
Aug 16, 2016 near South L…, CA
Great views of Lovers Leap on the way down. Make sure you stop and look.
Oct 21, 2017 near South L…, CA

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 26 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Jul 6, 2021
Daniel Mascarenhas
Great hike, took me 4 hours RT. No need of permit. The ranger station in Pollock Pines instructs you to go to Placerville for permits. Thankfully,…
Oct 20, 2020
Avi Coleman
Whew, amazing, challenging hike to an awesome view
Oct 19, 2020
Private User
Oct 3, 2020
Jesus Bayo
Oct 19, 2019
Jennifer H
Great hike. It was sleeting and windy at the top so we missed the beautiful views. Would recommend. — 3h 48m
Jul 11, 2019
Kathy Williams
Jun 30, 2019
Patrick G
5.8mi — 14h 28m
Jun 30, 2019
Noah E