towards Lake Tahoe from Shirley-Silver Ridge during
the Gondola Fire of July 4, 2002
A nice quick day hike to escape the ever-present
development of Squaw Valley. A steep climb
brings you to a rocky summit with great views of Lake
Tahoe and the Granite Chief Wilderness.
Take Highway 89 north
from Lake Tahoe (5 mi) or south from Truckee (9 mi) to Squaw
Valley Road. Turn onto Squaw Valley Road heading west.
At the end of the road, you will reach the parking lot for
the Squaw Valley Ski Area village, where the road forks.
Take the right hand fork and continue up towards the end,
where you will turn right to park near the Squaw Valley Fire
Station. There should be plenty of parking here in the
hike can start in the housing development above Christy
Hill. To get here, turn hard right near the
aforementioned fork in the road (right in front of the
Granite Chief Sports building) and head up the hill, bearing
left where possible. Aim for the large above ground
water reservoir and look for a place to park without
intruding on someone's property.
The route up Silver
Peak from this direction is not on trail, but follows one or
more use trails in various places. The route, however,
is self-evident from the trailhead. From either the
fire station trailhead or the reservoir trailhead, your
initial goal is to climb up to the ridge that runs from
point 7,742' northwest to Silver Peak. This ridge
separates Shirley Canyon on the left from the Silver Creek
drainage on the right. I therefore call this ridge the
The biggest initial
challenge in gaining the ridge is to find a trail through
the persistent dense brush that grows on the SW side of the
ridge. Generally, the best way is to contour in a NW
direction along the 6,800' level, and then turn right and up
into a broad gully that drops down to climber's left of
point 7,742'. This gully is largely brush-free,
although it will likely contain some portions of tedious
Photo: Looking down on Squaw Valley
from the top of the saddle on Shirley-Silver Ridge
(click photo to enlarge).
Once on the ridge,
the route is obvious:
head NW along the ridge until you get to the summit.
Along the ridge, you can either climb over or bypass several
rock gendarmes that guard the Shirley-Silver Ridge.
Most of these are easy, the crux being the brush that hides
below the rock towers. The largest of these pinnacles
I call the Shirley-Silver Spire, which when viewed from the
NW is an impressive sight with Lake Tahoe behind it.
This spire is a
fun little rock scramble (easy class 3) from the
ridgetop. From here, ascend the obvious SW face of
Silver Peak to the summit, where you will find outstanding
views over the Granite Chief Wilderness and