Back to index TRT - Segment 5a - Kingsbury South to Armstrong Pass
Trip Date:  07/07/2015

: 15.3 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2900'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate   Hard    Strenuous
TRT Segment 5a Trip
Download GPX GPX for this trip
TRT Segment 5a Trail Profile

What a speed profile looks like in a severe thunderstorm!
Start Coordinates:   N 38 57.639, W 119 53.200     End Coordinates:   N 38 49.823, W 119 54.042

Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes Parking Directions:   For parking at Kingsbury South, take Highway 207 east from Lake Tahoe Blvd for a couple of miles, and then turn right on Tramway Drive (just past Benjamin Drive.)  Follow Tramway until it bends to the left, and then continue on Quaking Aspen Lane as it doubles back the way you came.  Find the trailhead parking area on your right at the coordinates provided.
For parking at Armstrong Pass, make sure that you have a 4WD or high clearance 2WD vehicle for Forest Road 51.  Take Luther Pass Road (Highway 89) to the turnoff onto Forest Road 51 exactly 1.8 miles north of the junction of Highway 88 and Highway 89.  Follow this dirt road approximately 3.5 miles into the parking area at Armstrong Pass.
Hazards of Note:   Changeable weather conditions.  Significant elevation gain from 7500' to 9600' over the first 10 miles. Crowd Factor:   Moderate.  This is a mixed used trail popular mountain biking area so keep an eye out for quickly approaching bicyclists.  
General Notes:
From the parking at Spooner Summit head south along the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT.)  The first mile and a half is a very steady uphill, rising about 800 feet before levelling off just a little bit for a short way.  About a mile further you will come to a junction with a dirt road.  Continue straight on, heading toward the signed "Lake View" in 2 miles.  This viewpoint has great vistas of most of Lake Tahoe, and there is even a Kiwanis placed bench nearby that serves as a nice spot to rest.  From here, you can choose to extend the trek for the day with a side trip to the top of Genoa Peak, the mountain top on your left with the equipment at the summit.  This is a worthwhile diversion, but will add about 2 1/2 to 3 miles to your day.  As you continue past the base of Genoa Peak and the amazing viewpoints there, the trail will begin to gradually descend toward Kingsbury over the next four miles, passing through forest for most of the way with some open views to the south of Freel Peak and Heavenly Valley Ski Area.
Carson Panorama
Carson Valley Panorama from the trail on the east side of Monument Peak

The slightly elusive trailhead at Kingsbury south.  It is found within a maze of condo units if you are starting from this location. Trailhead sign
Within the first 200 feet you walk below a private tram that shuttles condo residents down to the ski area at Heavenly.
Unusual tram 
This is the first mileage trail sign you will get to, after coming to a junction and having to turn left.  If you go right, you will actually end up heading back toward the Kingsbury North trailhead.   First trail sign 
There are some nice views into the Carson Valley in Nevada early on in the hike, including this one showing the continuation of Highway 207 after it crosses the top of Kingsbury grade. Road on up
This is a shot of some pretty typical section of trail as you climb up through the forest for much of the first couple miles. Typical section of trail 
There is one look back at the lake early on, but then you head along the eastern side of the ridge around Monument Peak for much of the way to Star Lake, and you don't see Tahoe again for a long time. Tahoe in view
Views south from the Monument Peak area show Job's Sister and some of the terrain that you will be trekking through. Monument Peak
Even though the mountains block view of Lake Tahoe for most of the first 9-10 miles on this segment, some of the views to the south east into the Carson Valley are spectacular. Great vistas
The Tahoe Rim Trail volunteers who work tirelessly to keep the trail in great condition were out in force on a section of this trail about 4 miles in.  They had driven to a parking spot pretty close by, which was a surprise to come around a corner and see a couple of cars parked in the middle of nowhere. Trail workers 
Along one section of the trail just past Monument Peak were views that overlooked the Carson Valley some 3000' feet below.  A memoriable section for sure. View section
Just as the trail passed from Nevada into California there was an old weather-beaten marker indicating which way to head on to Star Lake still some 4 miles distant. Into California
It is always nice to be able to see your progress on a trip, and coming around bend the nearness of Freel Peak is significant from the last time it was in sight. Freel getting closer 
Also making an appearance across to the west is the wonderful Desolation Wilderness area, with the recently burned Angora Ridge in the foreground starting to show significant regrowth with the green all along the extent of it. Desolation Wilderness
It is quite a climb of about 800' the last mile before Star Lake, which sits at just over 9000' in elevation at the base of Job's Sister Peak.  Some tough old trees line the path as well as some pretty delicate wildflowers in the same vicinity. Nearing Star Lake Nearing Star Lake
Star Lake was going to be a nice lunch stopping point for today's journey, but as soon as I got to the lake the heavens opened up in a terrific thunder storm and downpour which lasted the rest of the journey. Star Lake
Even being pummelled by heavy rains Star Lake is a worthy site and looks like it would be a great overnight location. Star in heavy rain Star Lake
Looking back at Monument Ridge from near the base of Freel, having traversed near the top of this ridgeline on the way to the spot. Monument Ridge
After waiting out the heavy rains a couple of times on the way to this spot, once you hit the high point about 2 1/2 miles from the end it is all downhill the rest of the way. High point
Looking down from the highpoint to the southwest, you can see Freel Meadow, which the TRT continues across on the other half of this segment.   Freel Meadow
Lots of water along section of the trail, and not just from the skies as there were three natural springs that the TRT crosses heading down the other side of the pass. Wildflowers from a spring
Just for comparison, here's a look at Desolation Wilderness again as the storm heads that way a couple hours after my last picture of the location. Desolation Comparison
One mile from the end of this area you can either continue on further for 9 miles to complete the entire segment at one time, or you can go the way of the section sign, and to the parking area along Forest Road 51 a mere one mile further. Continuation sign Finishing sign
Very happy in a thunderstorm to see this bridge knowing that the warm, dry vehicle was just a few hundred feet past it. Finishing up
GPS track of the hike starting in the upper left and heading down to the bottom right.  GPS Track of the hike