Mt. Judah Loop – Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails
This is a 4.6 mile loop that climbs the northeast face of Mt. Judah for some of the most impressive vistas in northern Tahoe Sierra. The recently popular Mt. Judah Loop Trail cuts off the Pacific Crest Trail and follows the contours of the mountain. First it ascends moderately onto a scenic Jeep road near Coldstream Pass, then enters an aqueous area which brightens with varieties of pretty wildflowers in the spring and summer. As one might expect, this is the best time for the hike, also because spring and summer are the only times in which the mountain is clear of snow. Advantageous view points are abundant along the trail on the way up, as is the magnificently rugged terrain around Donner Pass. Outside the Judah entrance at Sugar Bowl Resort, the path climbs quickly and opens up to views of Lake Mary down below, tucked neatly inside mountain peaks.
The views don’t stop there; as you continue on in the Sugar Bowl Resort area and then head up towards the peak, you’ll be afforded excellent tableaus of shimmering Donner Lake. You’ll also see Mt. Rose, Truckee, and Coldstream Canyon immediately before you, and in summer the east side of Mt. Judah is dotted with lush purple Rock Fringe flowers. The trail then veers along the crest of the mountain top for an awe-inspiring panorama – Anderson Peak and Timber Knob to the south, and Castle Peak and Sierra Buttes rising up in the north. Before the loop connects back to the Pacific Crest Trail, it goes past Roller Pass, where signs tell the story of this significant point, its early settlers, and their difficult journey.
Eastbound and westbound drivers; take I-80′s Soda Springs exit and drive 4 miles along former Highway 40 to Donner Pass. Those at the west shore of Donner Pass can make a winding climb of a similar distance west to the pass. From the pass, drive 0.2 miles south on a paved road to where it bends west. Here, a pole-line road starts east, reaching a private road in 40 yards where it forks right. Park in this vicinity if you can, but since it’s open to a few cars at most and popular, you may have to park along one of the old highway’s turnouts.