Tahoe Untouched: Rifle Peak offers a great lake shot
Rifle Peak is such a nice hike tucked away on the north shore above Incline Village.
The trailhead begins off of Marlette and some locals call it the water tower trail – a ‘hood nickname. The beginning of this trail is quite vertical to the water tower – a jaunt of about half a mile on a dirt road and then offers the beginning glimpse of views yet to be imagined.
At this juncture of the hike, one can see Incline’s beaches down Lakeshore and a hint of the bays to either side of Lady Blue. The trail then goes up to a small grove of trees and boulders and the onset of wildflowers that have been dormant for the year and so many others – yet this season with the blessings of rain from Mother Nature, the mule ear flowers and lupine begin to tease the senses with their purples and yellows at the outskirts of this mini forest on the trailhead.
After leaving this much adored shade, the trail continues on a steep vertical climb for about another half-mile and emerges onto the side of the mountain rich with more mule ear and paint brushes and reminiscent of a Monet painting with hues of yellow, pink, orange and salmon. This year, the yellow is such that one would guess they were in the south of France among the sunflowers on a bright sunny day. This is a true treasure to see this time of year.
From this field of color, Lady Blue begins to transition into a mother to Sand Harbor and Crystal Bay that now appear beneath the trail as though they were waiting for one to notice and decide which way to paddle or canoe to and enjoy a picnic. The trail gradually evens out and connects to the Tahoe Rim Trail after about a half-mile more.
Then at the junction, a turn to the left for half a mile will lead to a huge rock outcropping to the right – giving the appearance of a small pinnacle canyon named Rifle Peak. A scramble to either side of the rock outcropping will give way to a view that one cannot describe – deep shades of blue of the lady herself and her emerald shores accentuated with the strength of the boulders you will be standing on.
The boulders are magnificent in their own rights with their weather-enhanced lichens of green, yellow and orange. This is a venture for those who have always wanted to know how to paint a palette from a hike – Rifle Peak is a sure shot for one to find out.
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