Back to index Cold Creek to High Meadow Hike

Trip Date:  06/14/2019

: 7.5 Miles  

Vertical Gain: 1200'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Cold Creek Route
Download GPXGPX for this trip

Cold Creek Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 53.869'  W 119 57.423'     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No
Parking Directions:   Take Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe.  Turn onto Pioneer Trail, and then turn onto High Meadow Trail just east of Sierra House Elementary School.  Follow this road about 1/2 mile to the trailhead parking area.
Hazards of Note:   Water crossing at the halfway point if you want to make this a loop.  
Crowd Factor:   Moderate to High.  This is a popular area for mountain biking and local dog walkers.
General Notes:
From the parking area, head up the dirt road until you reach the signed trailhead for the High Meadow Trail.  It is possible to actually park at this location if you have 4WD or a high clearance vehicle when the ground is not wet.  Follow the dirt road for about 2 1/2 miles from this point as it heads upward, and you will gain over 1000' of elevation during this stretch.  Most of this section is in the forest on the road, and doesn't offer much other than some views back to the west of the Desolation Wilderness mountains in the distance.   The clearing through the trees is where the powerlines which help supply Heavenly Valley ski resort are cut through, so the views are obstructed somewhat by these lines.   When you reach the halfway point of the hike at High Meadow, you will be treated with spectacular views south toward Freel Peak and Job's Sister, as well as a rocky ridgeline heading north from that area to the west of the meadow.  Cross over the water which comes through the meadow and head back down the Cold Creek Trail, avoiding the many bikers that you will probably meet on the way.

The High Meadow trailhead sign, about 1/2 mile up from the first parking area but another location where a high clearance vehicle could park for the hike. Parking area

A glimpse of the surrounding mountains from the dirt road early on the hike. Heading up

Looking back down the powerline opening toward Angora Ridge and Desolation Wilderness in the distance. Desolation Wilderness

When the trail opens up you get a first good look at East Peak, near the south end of Heavenly Valley ski area. Trail marker

Wandering around in the area near High Meadow. Near the meadow

Fantastic views toward Job's Sister on the left and Freel Peak on the right, the highest peak in the Greater Lake Tahoe area. Job's Sister and Freel Peaks

Mark exploring the meadow area.  The mountain in the distance is bisected north/south by the Tahoe Rim Trail. Exploring

A closeup view of Freel Peak, with nobody on it on this day. Freel closeup

The jagged and rocky ridgeline just to the west of the meadow, and north of Freel Peak and Armstrong Pass. Rocky Ridge

The weather-beaten information sign at High Meadows. Info Sign

My hiking partner, Mark, making his way across a surprisingly deep channel on the stream through the meadow. Crossing the stream

A junction near the end of the meadow which will take you either back to the trailhead or onward toward Monument Pass and the Tahoe Rim Trail. Heading back

A fairly representative example of much of the Cold Creek Trail heading back down. Cold Creek trail

Last bridge on the trail before the junction with the Powerline trail and the trailhead for High Meadow.Last bridge

GPS Track of the full hike, from left to right and back. GPS Track of Hike