Back to index TRT - Segment 1 - Tahoe City to Brockway Summit
Trip Date:  06/02/2015

: 20.2 Miles

Vertical Gain: 3180'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate   Hard    Strenuous
TRT Segment 1 Trip
Download GPX GPX for this trip
TRT Segment 1 Trail Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 39 10.150, W 120 08.923     End Coordinates:   N 39 15.508, W 120 03.869
Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes Parking Directions:   For the parking area at Tahoe City, Take Highway 28 to Tahoe City, and then turn west on West River Road.   Follow this for 2/10 of a mile and then turn right on Fairway drive.  The parking area is at the coordinates just about a quarter mile up the road.  The trailhead is on the west side of the road with a signed marker for the Tahoe Rim Trail.  For the parking area on Brockway Summit, take Highway 28 to Tahoe Vista, and then turn north on Highway 267, North Shore Road.  Follow this highway 2 3/4 miles to the parking area on the left (east) side of the road.
Hazards of Note:   This is a long segment, and water is only available (filtered) at Watson Lake, 11 miles into the hike from Tahoe City. Crowd Factor:   Moderate.  This is a popular mountain biking area so keep an eye out for quickly approaching bicyclists.
General Notes:
From the start of the hike the trail begins to climb quickly, up through the forest for over a 1000' elevation gain over the first couple few miles.  Near the first mile you get your first sights of Lake Tahoe and the mountains in the distance to the south, and as you wind east you will also soon begin to catch sight of some of the mountains to the west including Twin Peaks and Ellis Peak.  As you begin to head north as the trail follows the Truckee River far below, Alpine Meadows and then Squaw Valley ski areas begin to appear and amazing views of Granite Chief, Tinker Knob and even Mt. Anderson further and further to the north are available along your way.  
Near the base of Painted Rock the trail then starts to head to the east, and you gain and lose elevation a little bit at a time as you hike along the south side of Mt. Watson.  About a mile past Painted Rock you will actually cross paved Mt. Watson Road, which is otherwise known as the "Fiberboard Freeway" after it was paved to make access for logging easier in the past.  This is also a spot that this hike could be split in half, using the trail junction of the TRT and Mt. Watson Road as a pickup and drop off spot for hikers.  As you continue on the peak of Mt. Watson is never really visible through the trees, but there are stands of wildflowers everywhere and a couple more views of Lake Tahoe to keep you mind occupied along the way.
A couple of sharp switchbacks eventually lead you to Watson Lake, where you will pass along the eastern edge and maybe catch a glimpse of campers on the other side of the lake as you head north.  Past the lake the trail will turn sharply east, and more or less follow this direction for the last six miles of this section of the TRT.  Most of this last part of the hike is in forested area with little to no views of the lake to your south, but it is pleasant and with only a few final elevation gains along the way a pretty mellow way to finish up the end of a very long hike.  The last mile has you cross the Fiberboard Freeway once again and head south, parallelling Highway 267 for a little over half a mile before finally rising up to meet it at the end parking area.

The trailhead area at Tahoe City with information on the entire Tahoe Rim Trail along with some segment maps for the taking. Starting point
An early mileage sign, with help from my hiking partner on today's destination.
Early Mileage sign Early Mileage sign
What you need to keep a sharp eye out for along the way, especially when the trail crosses over some of the mountain bike paths criss crossing the last half of the trek. Signs
Our first glimpse of Lake Tahoe just about a mile into the hike. First glimpse of Tahoe
Early enough in the season the reward is Snow Plants all along the way in many of the shaded areas.   Snow Plants on the way Snow Plants
As the trail continues to climb along the ridge above Truckee River wildflowers begin to make their appearance along the trail. First wildflowers
After gaining a good 1000' in elevation the views of the lake and toward Desolation Wilderness to the south improve tremendously. Climbing
As the trail bends to the north, the Truckee River Canyon comes into view with Squaw Valley off to the west. Looking west
From a viewpoint near the trail the Truckee River is visible over 1000 feet below. Looking down
Twin Peaks, to the south and right along the TRT segment before this one becomes clearly visible about a third of the way along this hike. Twin Peaks
The forested trail opens up and then thins a bit as you head toward the base of Pointed Rock, before turning to the east. Toward Painted Rock
Nearly to Painted Rock you can look across the Truckee River Canyon right at the upper area of Squaw Valley and the resort area at the top of the gondola.  Granite Chief peak is just behind the resort location. Squaw Valley
Pancaked rocks show some of the layering evidence of the formation of these mountains so long ago. Pancakes
As the trail starts to head past Painted Rock and bend east, there is a great lunch stop area with views across toward Nevada and "The Flume Trail." Lunch spot
Reaching the Fiberboard Freeway, the paved Mt. Watson road running through the area you will pick up what could be an intermediate starting/ending location for this long section of the TRT. Fiberboard freeway Pavement here?
Passing along the south slope of Mt. Watson, views across the lake to the south and into Desolation Wilderness are breathtaking.   Desolation
Enjoying the sights from near Mt. Watson. Aaah.
Yours truly at one of the last open viewpoints near Mt. Watson before heading down toward the lake. Last big viewpoint
Watson Lake is effectively the only water to be found along this long segment of the TRT.  Would definitely need to be filtered. Watson Lake
Most of the trail for the last 6 miles past Watson Lake looks like this.  Very pleasant but nothing overly spectacular other than some nice wildflower blooms along the route. Finishing trail
In a few weeks this field of Mule Ear will be yellow in bloom. Mule Ear field
GPS track of the hike starting at the bottom. GPS Track of the hike