|Length||6.2 miles round trip|
|+1700, -1700 feet|
|Navigation||Road, marked trail and map|
|Time||Most of a day|
|Season||December through 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.
Make the tour to Huckleberry Ridge once, and the superb views will entice you back again. To the north Lake Tahoe spreads out in front of you along with Desolation Wilderness and the Crystal Range. To the east is the Upper Truckee River drainage and to the southeast is Grass Lake, Waterhouse Peak and peaks beyond.
Although the very steep climb up to Huckleberry Ridge is tempered by the fact that you follow a road the entire distance to the top, the same narrow road is the bane of those who descend it. Unless you are blessed with powder or corn-snow, and have the skill to control your speed on a downhill run that would otherwise be at out-of-control speeds, the road is no place for you.
Be aware that occasionally a SnoCat is driven on the road to access the microwave installations for maintenance. The Cat tracks make descent on the road very difficult if not just down right, ridiculously ugly. It is recommended that you don't ski this route when there are Cat tracks present unless you plan to descend the nose of the ridge on your return or plan to continue on one of the one-way tours described further on.
There are three alternative return routes that don't follow the road down. One descends 1300 feet northwest down the nose of the ridge through trees. This is a fantastic run for skiers who have the skill to carve turns through the trees. The prerequisites for this descent are a good base and deep powder on top. Save this descent for during a storm or immediately after a storm. Wet globs of snow fallen from the dense trees quickly ruin the conditions when it warms.
The other two alternative return routes are actually one-way tours. The Huckleberry Ridge to Sierra-At-Tahoe tour ends with a descent of beginner and intermediate groomed slopes at Sierra-At-Tahoe ski resort. The longer Sayles Canyon tour ends with a wonderful 5.5-mile, 2350-foot descent down the canyon to near Camp Sacramento.
The road to the top of Huckleberry Ridge is marked with both blue diamonds and larger yellow diamonds placed there to guide the SnoCat drivers.
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). This is where you can leave the road to descend the nose of the ridge as described later on.
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).
Return to trailhead
Miles: 3.1 - 6.2
Elevation change: +100, -1600 feet
Retrace the route for 3.1 miles back to the trailhead (1) or return down the nose of Huckleberry Ridge.
To return via the nose, retrace the route for 0.5 mile to mileage point 4. Then descend northwest on the nose of the ridge until you reach the road you previously skied. Stay just far enough west of north to maintain a good route as you descend. Where you intersect the road will depend on the exact route you ski.