Incline Peak

Everybody has their go-to backcountry mountain. Incline peak is home to many backcountry skiers in the Reno/Tahoe area. 

Looking from Incline Lake, up at Incline Peak.

Incline Peak is located in North Lake Tahoe, just over the summit of Mount Rose Highway about 30 minutes from Reno, NV. It’s a very popular place for locals to come get a quick workout in and ski some powder while doing it.

The skin up is about a mile and half with ~1,300 feet of climbing. The skin track starts at a pull off on Mount Rose Highway and crosses Incline Lake, which freezes over during winter. Once across the lake, the track weaves you through some rolling hills to the base of the mountain. Looking up at the mountain from this point, there’s a large bowl lined with a few cliff faces. This bowl has been known to slide every couple of years so use caution when skinning across the bottom when getting to the ridge. The skin track follows the ridge for quite a while until you are about half way up. At this point, it takes a slight turn to the north-west and flattens out for just a couple minutes before it turns back up. The final push to the top is quite steep and usually has three or four switchbacks. That is unless the person that set the skin track was overly eager to get to the top. 

Blue is the route up, Red is the route down.

Once you hit the summit, you are welcomed with the best view of Lake Tahoe there is. From the summit, you can see all the way across to South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly, Mount Tallac, Homewood, Tahoe City, and more. Needless to say, it is a breathtaking view that often prevents skiers from wanting to rush their transition. 

When it’s time to head out, skins come off, helmets go on, and skis are pointed downhill. There are a couple of routes you can ski back down from the summit.

My personal favorite route is dropping down the north side and then wrapping around to the lower part of the bowl. The reason I prefer this route is it’s more of a mellow pitch making it safer and it let’s you get more turns in! This route more or less takes you back down the way you skinned up. If you’re looking for more tree skiing and a mellow, safe route down, this is the way for you. 

The other route down is to drop off the east side of the mountain, straight down the bowl. This route is super fun but like I said earlier, it does have a tendency to slide so make sure you are aware of the avalanche conditions and take proper precautions. If everything checks out and this is a safe route to ski that day, you will enjoy some steep and deep turns. This slope gets a ton of snow from wind loading because it’s on the opposite side of the peak from the south-west wind that comes across the lake. You will get a decent amount of turns but it will be over more quickly than the other route. 

This video is taken on the first route dropping down the north face in the trees and then dropping down the lower half of the bowl. 

While this is a great place to ski, it is very popular so you better get there early or enjoy skinning with some strangers. You never know, they may become your new backcountry friends! 

Other Peaks

Check out our writeup on Lassen Peak as well and let us know where your favorite spots are in the comments!


Denise Lyle · July 17, 2018 at 6:33 am

I had no idea about this back country route. Thank you for sharing! I’d love to try it next winter.

    Ian Meintjes · July 17, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    It’s such a great route! Safe, fun, and beautiful!

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