|Length||10.0 miles one-way|
|+2050, -2750 feet|
|Navigation||Road, marked trail, map and compass|
|Season||Late December through mid-April|
|USGS Topo||7.5' series, Echo Lake|
|Start||South side of Highway 50, 1.0 mile west of Echo Summit Maintenance Station and 0.2 mile east of Johnson Pass Road (the road to Berkeley Camp and Echo Lake Sno-Park). The trailhead is on the south side of the highway at a turnout where a snow-covered road is located.
Park at the Echo Lake Sno-Park. From Highway 50 drive 0.6 mile east on Johnson Pass Road toward Berkeley Camp to the Sno-Park.
To reach the trailhead from the Sno-Park, walk 0.6 mile down Johnson Pass Road to Highway 50, then 0.2 mile east on Highway 50, and finally cross to the south side of the highway where the trailhead is located. Be very careful when walking along Highway 50 and crossing it. As an alternative you can ski parallel to the highway.
The synopsis for the Sayles Canyon tour is short and sweet, and advanced skiers will not be able to resist.
You begin the tour with a very steep 1600-foot climb to Huckleberry Ridge that overlooks the Upper Truckee River and provides grand views of Lake Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness. Beyond it is rolling terrain on broad ridges to the highest point of the tour at Peak 8905. Ahead is a 5.5-mile, 2350-foot descent. You should find solitude here as well as fine views, and will be required to use your map and compass for navigation.
The first part of this tour is identical to the Huckleberry Ridge tour. Skiers who love steep downhill terrain through trees will want to read that description because it includes a descent of the nose of the ridge. It's outrageous when deep powder is present.
Waypoint 1 to 2
Miles: 0.0 - 0.6
Elevation change: -100 feet
From the trailhead (1) ski west on the road for 0.6 mile until you reach the creek (2) that drains Lake Audrian.
Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 0.6 - 0.9
Elevation change: +100 feet
Continue to ski west on the road for 0.3 mile until you reach a sharp left turn (3). Beyond here the road and the route climb at a steep angle.
Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 0.9 - 2.6
Elevation change:+1200 feet
Climb on the steep road for 1.7 miles until you reach a markedly more level area on the ridge (4).
Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 2.6 - 2.7
Elevation change:+100 feet
To continue up Huckleberry Ridge, ski south, following the markers, for 0.1 mile until you reach the first microwave tower (5).
Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 2.7 - 3.1
Elevation change:+200 feet
Continue south and then southwest on the ridge for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach the second, larger, microwave tower (6).
Waypoint 6 to 7
Miles: 3.1 - 4.5
Elevation change: +250, -200 feet
Follow the ridge southwest and then southeast for a total of 1.4 miles until you reach the summit of Peak 8905 (7).
Waypoint 7 to 8
Miles: 4.5 - 4.9
Elevation change: -350 feet
Descend south, at first through an open area and then through very dense trees for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach a broad saddle (8).
Waypoint 8 to 9
Miles: 4.9 - 5.2
Elevation change: -50 feet
Ski southwest for 0.3 mile until your reach the east edge of Bryan Meadow (9).
Waypoint 9 to 10
Miles: 5.2 - 6.2
Elevation change:-550 feet
Continue southwest through trees for 1.0 mile until you reach a clearing (10) in the drainage. Be aware that you pass through a couple of other small clearings as you descend.
Waypoint 10 to 11
Miles: 6.2 - 8.4
Elevation change: -650 feet
Descend gradually northwest through Sayles Canyon for 2.2 miles until you reach the location where the drainage becomes noticeably more steep (11). Expect a pleasant downhill run, weaving through the trees as you make quick slalom turns.
Waypoint 11 to 12
Miles: 8.4 - 9.5
Elevation change: -600 feet
Descend the steep canyon to the northwest for 1.1 miles until you reach a road (12) in a housing tract. Although you can ski on either side of the creek as you descend, at the bottom you must be on the east (right) side.
Waypoint 12 to 13
Miles: 9.5 - 10.0
Elevation change: -150 feet
Ski north on the road through a development for 0.5 mile until you reach Highway 50 (13).