Relay Ridge

Summary  Link to more information about summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 7.8 miles round trip
8850 feet
+1250, -1250 round trip
Navigation Road and map
Time Half day
Season Mid-December through April
Snowmobiles Use Not permitted on first mile of road. Low to moderate on remainder of road. See description for more details. [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Mount Rose
Start Highway 431, 7.8 miles northeast of Highway 28 and 0.3 mile southwest of Mt. Rose Summit. A building and snow-covered road are located on the north side of the highway. Parking is limited; as an alternative start the tour at the parking area located 0.4 mile to the west.

Description   Link to more information about description

Relay Road, a name coined from the name of its terminus, climbs gradually for 3.9 miles to the Mount Rose Relay Station (the “radio tower” on 7.5 minute topographic maps) that sits atop the ridge that divides Tahoe Meadows from the canyons of the Mount Rose Wilderness. Magical is the word that best describes the views from the ridgetop.

Skiers reaching the radio tower at 10,166 feet are treated to vistas in all directions. To the north Donner Lake, Processor Reservoir, Boca Reservoir, Stampede Reservoir and Independence Lake are unmistakable. Nearby, giant Mount Rose rises 610 feet above.

To the east and 5,000 feet below lies Washoe Valley, and beyond is the Virginia Range. This high desert landscape comes alive when the sun and clouds drape successive ridges in alternating dark and light hues. Of course to the south and west are Lake Tahoe and the myriad of surrounding snow-covered peaks.

The downside to this tour are the snowmobiles that frequent the area. They ride up and down Third Creek and high-mark on the open faces below Relay Ridge. Skiers still choose to visit this area because it is the easiest route that affords the dramatic views found on the ridge.

An excellent extension of the tour is the ascent of Mount Houghton 0.8 mile to the north and 327 feet above. The ascent is described in Mount Houghton Via Radio Tower tour. Mount Houghton can also be reached via the Mount Houghton Direct tour. Mount Houghton is located in an area closed to snowmobile use.

A note about safety is necessary. Do not let the road give you false sense of security — the ascent to Relay Ridge crosses avalanche terrain and should not be skied when unstable conditions exist.

Mileage Log   Link to more information about mileage log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Waypoint 1 to 2
Miles: 0.0 - 2.4
Elevation change: +550 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski west on the snow-covered road, which gradually turns north up the Third Creek drainage, for a total of 2.4 miles until you reach a saddle (2). The saddle separates Third Creek and Galena Creek.

Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 2.4 - 2.9
Elevation change:+250 feet

Ski generally west on the snow-covered road for 0.5 mile until you reach the bend in the road (3) at the base of the tramway. In this section, especially near the saddle you are leaving behind, the road may be difficult to discern.

Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 2.9 - 3.5
Elevation change: +250 feet

Ski southwest on the snow-covered road for 0.6 mile until you reach a 180-degree turn to the right (4).

Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 3.5 - 3.9
Elevation change: +200 feet

Turn north (right) and follow the snow-covered road for 0.4 mile until you reach Relay Ridge and the radio tower (5).

Return to trailhead
Miles: 3.9 - 7.8
Elevation change:-1250 feet

Retrace the route for 3.9 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Print version of map for tour