Daggett to Spooner

  View from South Camp Peak
The view towards Desolation Wilderness from South Camp Peak

This is a scenic tour along Tahoe's southeastern rim. The route is very popular among snowmobilers; in fact, much of it is machine-groomed for commercial snowmobile tours. That's a big turn-off for ski touring, of course, but you can avoid heavy snowmobile traffic by starting early and/or skiing on weekdays. Also, we found that the traffic, mostly from guided tours, is concentrated in tight groups; at times we seemed surrounded by them, but soon we'd have the trails to ourselves for quite a while. If you don't want to deal with the snomos, try either of the next two Tahoe Loop tours.

Starting elevation near Daggett is 7750', which is actually higher than Daggett Pass, and higher than the 7200' end of the tour at Spooner junction. Which is one reason why I suggest doing the tour in that direction (the other is that you'd rather be going downhill through the Spooner end of the tour, with its much greater snowmobile traffic). The tour's average elevation is a little over 8000'; it should be good in the winter months, losing some coverage at either end by early spring.

  Bench on South Camp Peak
Bob, Cathy, Sandra, and Jay, on the west-facing side of South Camp Peak
To get to the start of the tour, take the Kingsbury Grade/ Daggett Pass road from either end, Minden, NV, or South Tahoe's casino district, to the Lake Tahoe side of the actual Daggett Pass. Turn north on to North Benjamin (if coming up from Tahoe, that's a left turn which is also marked by a sign for "Brautovich County Park"). North Benjamin soon turns into Andria; follow that all the way to the end, which is about 2 miles total from the highway. There is some free parking available here.

From the Andria trailhead, follow what will probably be the dominant snowmobile route northward (or parallel the route on nearby hillsides). Soon after starting, the route zags to the left leading to a view of the lake; from there, you should gradually work your way up to around 8400' across generally Tahoe-facing slopes. About a mile southwest of Genoa Peak, you'll head over a gentle 8500' saddle. Continue north to the 8818' southern summit of the broad South Camp Peak, with its expansive views of Lake Tahoe. Continue from there to the north, and then eastward to South Camp's true summit, with its 8866' views of Carson City.

Drop into one of the east-facing bowls, descending 600' on wide-open slopes, before resuming travel on groomed snowmobile trails. Back on the groomed route, you'll go northwest and then north to the western base of Duane Bliss Peak, and then drop towards the northwest to the Spooner junction area, the tour ending at the snowmobile center just to the southwest of the highway junction.

Parking (free and plentiful) at the Spooner end of the tour is at the snowplay area along the Lake Tahoe side of the highway junction (the entrance is north of the junction). This is not far from the Spooner Lake XC center trailhead used by the next tour.

There's a more significant separation, however, if you want to connect this tour with Heavenly Valley, the previous "tour" in the series. It's 3 miles of pavement and development from the Andria trailhead of this tour to the Boulder Lodge entrance to Heavenly's "Nevada side" resort slopes (from Kingsbury Grade road, turn south onto South Benjamin). I think your choice there is to drive, or walk along the roads.

An account of our 1/02 trip which included this tour

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