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Ralston Peak

  4.6 ( 16 ) Favorite


5.8 mile 9.3 kilometer loop
56% Runnable


Ascent: 2,617' 798 m
Descent: -2,616' -797 m
High: 9,149' 2,789 m
Low: 6,532' 1,991 m


Avg Grade: 17% (10°)
Max Grade: 39% (21°)


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Trail shared by Michael Ahnemann

It's hard to beat the ratio of distance to views on this trail even though the climb is quite tough.

Michael Ahnemann

Features River/Creek · Views


With less than 3 miles to travel to the top of Ralston Peak, it would be hard to find a better bang for your buck than this trail. The climb is steep, and rises 2,600 feet, but the views are outstanding. It's a route definitely worth checking out if you just have time for one great run.

Runner Notes

This is a steep trail, which won't make this the most enjoyable of runs, but the scenery is excellent if you're willing to push through the climb.


There's a small trailhead parking lot on the north side of Rte. 50, right across from the Sacramento campground. Follow the dirt road to the obvious parking, or if that's full, you can park along Rte. 50.

The trail starts climbing right from the trailhead, mellows out a bit at about .75 miles in, and then really kicks up at about 1.5 miles in. You'll start out making your way through a dense forest of fir trees, with plenty of shade. You'll get close to Tamarack Creek for a bit - enjoy the lush vegetation and wildflowers there, but before long, you'll start working to gain the ridge, navigating switchbacks through more open, drier forest.

Around 2.3 miles, look for a junction, with a less-worn trail heading off to the right (northeast) to Ralston Peak. Take this small branch, and finish out the climb through beautiful wildflowers, and then continue over a rocky section. You’ll be rewarded with epic views of the Desolation Wilderness and a far away glimpse of Lake Tahoe.

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Aug 19, 2018
Amber Seckman
Trailhead Sunday
Jul 21, 2018
Chris Leonetti
Wow, awesome top out.
Jul 3, 2017
weasty ch
summit and back 5.8mi
Jun 18, 2017
weasty ch

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 16 votes


  4.6 from 16 votes
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in California


92 Views Last Month
6,631 Since Aug 9, 2016



Ralston, Tamarack, and Echo Lakes from Ralston Peak summit.
Aug 31, 2016 near South L…, CA
Looking across at Pyramid Peak w/ Lake Aloha & Lake of the Woods on the right.
Oct 21, 2017 near South L…, CA
Ralston and Tamarack Lakes taken from the summit of Ralston Peak. Looking east at Lake Tahoe.
Sep 10, 2017 near South L…, CA
Toward Lake Aloha from Ralston Peak summit.
Aug 16, 2016 near South L…, CA
Great views of Lovers Leap on the way down. Make sure you stop and look.
Oct 21, 2017 near South L…, CA
Love Mt. Ralston, 90% dirt trail, lots of shade, well marked and maintained route. Lots of back for the buck on this hike a  surprisingly spectacular view. You won't be disappointed.
Aug 18, 2019 near South L…, CA

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