|Length||6.3 miles one-way|
|+2050, -2050 feet|
|Navigation||Road, marked trail, map and compass|
|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.
This one-way tour is made up of three distinct parts. The first is a steep climb to Huckleberry Ridge. The second is filled with rolling terrain. The third and final part consists of groomed downhill ski runs.
At the end of the very steep climb to Huckleberry Ridge you are treated to wonderful views in most every direction. 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. Fortunately the climb is on a road that at least eliminates the need to spend time navigating on this portion of the tour.
To the south of the Huckleberry Ridge and the highest microwave tower lies wonderful rolling terrain filled broad ridges and small peaks. The best way to explore this area is by way of the the Sayles Canyon tour. However, that tour is long. The tour described here is a shorter alternative that gives you a glimpse of what the longer tour is like.
In this tour you ski south from the microwave tower for 0.9 mile to a tributary of Sayles Canyon. A short way down the tributary you intersect one of Sierra-At-Tahoe's "back side" beginner-intermediate ski runs that you follow before climbing back onto Huckleberry Ridge. Then you descend beginner and/or intermediate ski runs to the main lodge.
As you descend down the groomed ski run on the back side of Huckleberry Ridge you only have to imagine the area without the cleared trees and the grooming to understand why the Sayles Canyon tour is so wonderful. That said, you may relish the opportunity to ski the groomed slopes of the resort without forking over a wad of money.
Be aware that occasionally a SnoCat uses the road to access the microwave installations on Huckleberry Ridge. The road 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).
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 - 4.0
Elevation change: +250, -200 feet
Ski southwest, following a broad ridge, for 0.9 mile until you reach a broad saddle (7). In this section you will cross three small high points.
Waypoint 7 to 8
Miles: 4.0 - 4.3
Elevation change: -200 feet
Descend the drainage to the west (right) of the saddle for 0.3 mile until you intersect a groomed ski run (8). Stay as far south (left) of the actual creek as necessary to find the best conditions. The ski run is easy intermediate where you intersect it, but quickly becomes a beginner run.
Waypoint 8 to 9
Miles: 4.3 - 5.3
Elevation change: -700 feet
Descend the groomed ski run, passing the El Dorado ski lift, for 1.0 mile until you reach the base of the Short Stuff ski lift (9).
Waypoint 9 to 10
Miles: 5.3 - 5.6
Elevation change: +200 feet
Ascend northwest and parallel to the Short Stuff ski lift for 0.3 mile until you reach the top of the lift and top of Huckleberry Ridge (10).
Waypoint 10 to 11
Miles: 5.6 - 6.3
Elevation change: -850 feet
Descend the Upper Main ski run for 0.7 mile until you reach the main lodge (11) or choose from one of the other runs.