Sayles Canyon

Summary  Link to more information about summary

Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 10.0 miles one-way
7250 feet
+2050, -2750 feet
Navigation Road, marked trail, map and compass
Time Full day
Season Late December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Use Low
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.

Description   Link to more information about description

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.

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 - 0.6
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).

Print version of map for tour
Print version of map for tour