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Mount Rose Trail Hike, Lake Tahoe – Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a local of, or visiting the Northern Tahoe area, and are an avid hiker, you should definitely check out the Mount Rose Trail! This hike features a diverse array of natural environments, a beautiful waterfall, and panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada region and Lake Tahoe. Keep reading to find out just what to expect and everything else you need to know about the Mount Rose Trail. 

Mt Rose Trail hike lake tahoe photos

Where is Mount Rose Trail?

If you’re not familiar with the Lake Tahoe area, it is located in the northwestern United States and spans from eastern California to western Nevada. Lake Tahoe is a massive freshwater lake that from end to end reaches nearly 22 miles, covering a total surface area of  191 square miles[2]. Surrounding Lake Tahoe is a number of striking beaches and picturesque hiking trails. The Mount Rose Trail sits on the northeastern side of Lake Tahoe, in Nevada, with the trailhead about a 15-minute drive from Incline Village, NV

At the trailhead there is a free and large parking lot, that has plenty of space for early morning arrivals. The parking lot can however quickly fill up in the late morning and early afternoon, especially during the summer months when this community becomes a tourist hub. You should plan for an early start during the summer months to get yourself a parking spot, as well as beat the high afternoon heat. If you arrive midday during peak tourist months, you may find yourself waiting for a spot. 

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Is there camping on the Mount Rose Trail?

Directly across from the Mount Rose trailhead is the Mt. Rose Campground. The campground is open from June to September and features plenty of facilities like restrooms, water and sewage hookups, drinking water, and hosts on-site. 

summit altitude sign of mount rose

How long does it take to hike Mount Rose?

The complete loop of the Mount Rose Trail is 10.7 miles/17.2 kilometers[1] with an elevation gain of 2,395 feet/730 meters[1]. This hike typically takes around 5.5 to 6 hours to complete, not including rest time, (and you’ll definitely want to take a break at the top to catch your breath and enjoy the view). The total altitude at the summit of Mount Rose is an astonishing 10,785 ft. At the summit, you’ll find a sign indicating the altitude that you can take a great celebratory photo with. 

Photo of a cliff and forest on the nevada mount rose trail

Is the Mount Rose Trial a difficult hike?

The Mount Rose Trail due to its length and altitude climb is categorized as a difficult hike. The first 3 miles or so are easy or moderate depending on your experience level, with little incline. For the first 3 miles, you will experience a mostly flat trail, with areas of slight incline that navigate through the gorgeous and diverse desert, forest, cliffside, and meadow landscapes. Once you reach the Galena Creek Falls, you should prepare for difficulty in the remaining 2 miles to the summit. The majority of the climb occurs in the final mile to the summit, with this area being the most strenuous. Additionally, the altitude alone can make this trail more difficult than most, even for experienced hikers. With the trailhead already at an altitude of almost 7000ft and a climb all the way to nearly 11,000 ft elevation, hikers can become short of breath if proper precautions aren’t taken. Be sure to bring plenty of water, lather up with sunscreen and bring sun protection like a hat and sunglasses, and bring healthy snacks to munch on along the way to keep you properly fueled. 

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Open meadow and mountain view of Mount Rose trail

Is the Mount Rose Trail crowded?

The Mount Rose Trail is a popular tourist destination in the summer and can become quite crowded in the late morning and afternoon. If you seek to complete this trail in relative solitude, aim to start at least before 8 am. That way you’ll beat the heat, and the crowds. In the off-season, the trail is much less crowded but be prepared for snow and ice due to the high altitude of this trail. 

Are there public washrooms on the Mount Rose Trail?

At the trailhead, there is a public washroom, but for the remainder of the hike, you’ll have to go au natural so to speak. If you’re concerned about private bathroom breaks on a trail like Mount Rose, you are unfortunately out of luck. However, the untampered nature of the Mount Rose Trail certainly makes up for a few bathroom breaks in the buff. Utilize the restroom at the trailhead, and come prepared. 

Are there water stations or concessions on the Mount Rose Trail?

The Mount Rose Trail is virtually untouched. The trails are well-trodden, and trail markings are clear but other than that you are in unaltered nature. There are no water fountains along the trail, and no concession stands. You should certainly come prepared with plenty of water, and snacks to keep you full for a 5-7 hour outing. I recommend bringing some lunch to enjoy with the panoramic views at the top to help fuel you for the way back down. And remember to leave no trace! Everything you pack in, you must pack out, and keep trails litter free. 

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Sandy hillside covered in wild flowers and wild bushes on the mount rose trail

What can you expect on the Mount Rose Trail?

Lots and lots of wildflowers

The first portion of the Mount Rose Trail is a sandy path on a sloping hill that runs alongside the highway for the first quarter mile or so. The sandy hillside is covered in beautiful yellow wildflowers and desert lavender. If you take off early in the morning you’ll also be greeted by a symphony chickadee and stellar jay birdsong, along with other birds native to the northern Sierra Nevada region. You can expect a relaxed start in the first mile of this hike

Pine tree forest and wild flowers on the mount rose trail in nevada

Beautiful pine forests

The next stage of the trail navigates through a rocky forest of a variety of fragrant pine trees and wildflowers. As you move along the next 2 miles of trail you will see the forest open up into views of Mount Rose and the valley below, with an expansive cliffside to your west. 

Mount rose trail with purple flowers and blue skies with mountains in the background

The Galena Creek Waterfall

Nearing the 3-mile mark you’ll start a slow decline into the beautiful valley. At 2.6 miles you’ll also be greeted by the Galena Creek waterfall which makes for an amazing photo opp. The creek as it travels down through the valley is peppered with lush wildflowers. You’ll also be happy to know that just 2 miles remain on the trail after you spot this landmark. 

galena creek waterfall on the mount rose trail in nevada

Summiting Mount Rose 

As discussed earlier, the final 2 miles of the Mount Rose Trail is when you’ll really start to feel it. This area of the trail reaches the most intense incline, and if you started in the morning, you’ll begin to feel that afternoon heat, especially if you complete this trail in the summer. If you’re hiking in the winter or spring, be prepared for possible high wind speeds at the top. Come prepared with appropriate attire and plenty of water. As you approach the summit you’ll find yourself along plenty of steep switchbacks, that open up from the forest onto the rocky peak of Mount Rose. Wear closed-toe footwear as the trail at the top is exceptionally dusty. 

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Rocky summit of mount rose with views of lake tahoe

The summit of Mount Rose features striking panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada region, Lake Tahoe, and Eastern California. Find a spot sitting on one of the large rocks and enjoy a packed lunch and the gorgeous views that this challenging, but worthwhile trail has to offer. 

View of Lake tahoe from the top of Mount Rose

Related: Kayaking Lake Tahoe

Article Sources:

  1. All Trails. “Mount Rose Trail
  2. Wikipedia. “Lake Tahoe