Genoa Peak

Posted by Ryan C. Jerz on August 01, 2019

I'm generally not one to have somewhere to be at 6:00 A.M. on a Sunday. But this past Sunday, I agreed to meet Chad Hartley at his house so we could drive the roughly one hour to Kingsbury Grade and embark on a most-of-the-day hike to bag Genoa Peak. Chad had decided the day before that he wanted to do that and I agreed over a few texts that I would also like to do that. I hadn't yet realized that he meant to leave so early. Whatever. I got up, and I made it to his place by 6:00 and we went our merry way south to the Carson Valley, then up the hill to cross over into the Lake Tahoe Basin and begin our hike.

Genoa Peak is not considered a serious or difficult hike. It's a day hike that many people have done before us and many will do after. You can approach it from two general directions. The first is from Genoa itself. That takes you up the east face of the mountain on a switchbacky nine mile or so trail that for the entire morning would have you exposed to the sun while climbing about 4,300 feet to reach the top. The other is via the Tahoe Rim Trail. Whether you come from the north or the south of the trail, this way starts you out much higher, provides shade through the morning and tree cover later. You'll gain right at 2,000 feet total between the way there and back. We chose the second option, from the south.

The majority of the trip is along the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), which is wonderful. There is no major brutal climbing, the trail is very well maintained, and you will see others. Unfortunately, you'll have to watch for mountain bikes as part of that seeing others thing. You meander over the trail's ups and downs for about 5.5 miles until you reach a forest road. Take note that in the first two miles, there are a couple of downhill sections. I remembered there being more of those than there were because I was especially taking note (I really hate uphill on the way back from a climb). Just past the road at the 5.5 mile point, there is a trail junction. The route from Genoa itself intersects here.

The book on this hike said that the out and back was a total of 13 miles. So at that junction, we followed the detailed instructions to reach the final approach. It's a bit longer than the book said based on the beta they provide. We totaled just over 14 miles, but did have a very brief detour in the form of a wrong turn. However, in looking at the map afterward, if you take a right at the Genoa trail junction, back toward Genoa, you might be able to cut off some of that distance. See, there's a road that goes to just below the peak. That other trail intersects that road. You can cut off some of the route by going more direct with that trail. But by choosing to leave the TRT, you walk on a more exposed-to-the-elements path that's also a road. Who wants to hike on roads? Don't take that route unless you really need to.


The last 0.7 miles has a quarter of the total gain for the entire hike. It's also on a road, which sucks, but is necessary. You follow the road, which ends at a few generator huts about 150 feet below the top to the northwest. From there, a use trail with a tiny bit of scrambling gets you to the top. The views of Tahoe aren't much different than they are once you get above the trees, which is about a quarter mile back, but you do get to look to the east and the Carson Valley and Pinenut Range.


We sat at the top for about 20 minutes and had some lunch, watched a glider getting pulled along by the single seat Piper, only to have that same glider sneak up on us in silence after getting released from the tow plane. The climb down that final 150 feet was a little more dubious than the climb up. It was slow, but once we reached the road, the sailing was smooth. We saw a couple of groups in OHVs. Apparently, this is a popular destination for people in side-by-sides and on dirt bikes. That's not as cool as other hikers, and only dusty for a few seconds.

The rest of the haul was pleasant. We saw quite a few more people on the way back than we did on the way out, including mountain bikers. Those few uphill segments that I had noted at the beginning weren't fun, but manageable. We knocked the whole 14.3 miles out in about 6.5 hours, then made our way to Shoe Tree Brewing in Carson City to reward ourselves with a couple of beers. As a peak that Chad and I have discussed a few times over the years, it was cool to get this one done. Plus, it was a great way to keep me from having to run eight miles to keep up on my training plan.

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