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Tahoe Rim Trail: Spooner Summit to Kingsbury North

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  This hike has some of the best views of Lake Tahoe possible from the ground.  Include with the views an outstanding wildflower display in the summer and you've got a pretty good hike.  From the beginning, the trail switchbacks upward through stands of conifers and across small meadows highlighted in spring & summer by the blooms of wildflowers.  Nearby aspen trunks bear inscriptions carved long ago by lonely Basque Shepherds (and probably more recently also by hikers).  A long traverse up the volcanic flanks of South Camp Peak (8866') leads to the highest point on the hike (8830') and a stunning view that reaches across the entire length of Lake Tahoe.  Along the descent to Kingsbury, dense woods only occasionally part to reveal glimpses of the lake framed between the branches of fir trees.  For everything TRT you can visit the official website.  Unfortunately, the map provided on that website for this section of the trail isn't high resolution.  Also, their "Highest" elevation of "8010 ft" is incorrect (although they have the correct one in the description of the hike).  The trailhead elevations seem correct (7,150' for Spooner Summit & 7,780' for Kingsbury North).  This hike offers many options including hiking it either north-to-south or south-to-north as a through hike (two cars or an arrangement to be picked up required).  We hiked this trail from north-to-south (as described below) which I believe we would repeat if we do this hike again.  Although you gain more elevation going this way (good or bad depending on who you ask) you reach the viewpoint at the bench of South Camp Peak after ~5.0 miles instead of ~7.1 miles.  Another option (recommended) is to do an out-and-back hike starting from Spooner Summit and turning around at the viewpoint (~9.8 miles roundtrip, w/ ~1,885' of elevation gain/loss).

Distance:  12.1 miles one-way

Elevation Gain/Loss:  2,350'/1,720' total

Season: June through October

Fees & Permits:  None for dayhikers

Finding the Trailhead: 39.1034 N, 119.8954 W (Spooner Summit to Kingsbury North Trailhead).  To get to the Spooner Summit trailhead, travel west on US-50 from the US-395/50 intersection south of Carson City for ~9.0 miles and turn left into the parking area.  The trail starts at the southern end of the parking area.  To get to the Kingsbury North trailhead (38.9964 N, 119.8967 W), follow NV-207 (Kingsbury Grade) east from the intersection with US-50 just north of Stateline for ~2.8 miles.  Turn left onto N Benjamin Drive (which turns into Andria Drive) and follow the road for ~1.9 miles to the parking area.  The trail comes in from the west side.

The Hike:
Starting from the Spooner Summit TRT parking lot off of US-50 you immediately begin climbing.  During this first section of climbing is when we came across much of the more concentrated sets of purple Penstemon (as well as many other flowers).  Also during this section is when you're most likely to come across other hikers (most only venturing a few miles before turning back).  After ~2.15 miles the trail intersects with the Forest Service Rd 14N328.  About 1.15 miles beyond this the trail intersects with the Genoa Peak Rd.  After this the trail offers some nice views of Lake Tahoe before it continues to climb towards the bench of South Camp Peak. 
After ~4.8 miles you reach the northern end of this bench which offers spectacular panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surroundings.  Be sure to bring a windbreaker as it can get gusty on the exposed bench.  Also be sure to view Emerald Bay and Fallen Leaf Lake with the Crystal Range beyond to the SW.  After pulling yourself away from the views continue southward while the trail descends for the rest of the hike (with some small, short exceptions).  After ~6.9 miles from the trailhead the trail intersects with Forest Service Rd 14N338. Beyond this point the trail continues southward, zigzagging its way through the trees towards Kingsbury North (another ~5.2 miles).