Marlette Lake

Summary  Link to more information about summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 9.2 miles round trip
7050 feet
+1450, -1450 round trip
Navigation Road and map
Time Most of a day
Season Mid-December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Use Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Glenbrook, Marlette Lake
Start Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park on the east side of Highway 28, 0.7 mile north of Spooner Junction. After passing by the entrance station, keep right and park near the restroom. A fee is charged for parking.

Description   Link to more information about description

Marlette Lake, formed in the 1870s when a dam was built across Marlette Creek, can be reached nearly entirely on roads. Most of the tour is through narrow North Canyon.

Although the tour is rated intermediate in difficulty, the first 3.1 miles is suitable for advanced beginner skiers. The 3.1-mile point is the location of a large, open area from which you have a view to the southwest of the peaks, including Mt. Tallac, that form the eastern boundary of Desolation Wilderness. Beyond this point, the route is steeper, and the slopes you cross are potential avalanche paths.

There are two easier tours in the area. One is North Canyon Creek that takes you to the beginning of the canyon and the other is Spooner Lake.

The area traversed by the Marlette Lake tour was open to the public in winter for the price of parking up until 1985. There were even markers denoting points along the trails (roads) in the area.

In 1985 Nevada State Parks gave a concession to Spooner Lake Cross Country to operate on the Spooner Lake park lands and it became a fee for use area. The concessionaire rented equipment, gave lessons and offered two beautiful Scandinavian style hand-hewn log cabins for rent.

But after 27 years of operation, Spooner Lake Cross Country is closed for the 2012-2013 winter season and there are no current plans to re-open. The cause of the closure was rising costs and uncertainty about snow conditions that the previous year resulted in only being open for 30 days.

As a result, beginning with the 2012-2013 winter season, the park is again open to the public for the price of parking.

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 - 0.1
Elevation change: -50 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski northeast for 0.1 mile until you reach a road (2). The point you want is a short distance to the west of the dam on Spooner Lake and on the south side of a narrow clearing that connects the large meadow to the west with Spooner Lake to the east.

Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 0.1 - 0.7
Elevation change: +50 feet

Ski north across the narrow clearing, locate a road heading north, and continue skiing north on the road through woods for a total of 0.6 mile until you reach an old cabin (3).

Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 0.7 - 0.9
Elevation change: +50 feet

Continue skiing north on the road for 0.2 mile until you reach the place where you cross North Canyon Creek (4). You will find sign at this location that denotes the point at which a previously groomed trail turned south while the trail to Marlette Lake continued north.

Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 0.9 - 3.1
Elevation change: +600 feet

Continue slightly east of north up North Canyon and parallel the creek on the road for 2.2 miles until you reach a large, open area (5).

Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 3.1 - 3.9
Elevation change: +450 feet

Continue north on the road for 0.8 mile until you reach the saddle between Snow Valley Peak and Peak 8738 (6). From the saddle you can see Marlette Lake.

Waypoint 6 to 7
Miles: 3.9 - 4.6
Elevation change: -250 feet

Descend north on the road for 0.7 mile until you reach Marlette Lake (7). You can extend the tour by skiing on the road along the south and west shore of the lake to the dam.

Return to trailhead
Miles: 4.6 - 9.2
Elevation change: +300, -1150 feet

Retrace the route for 4.6 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Print version of map for tour