Jump for Judah!

Mt Judah Hike in Tahoe Donner

Tackle Tahoe's deservedly popular Mt. Judah loop this summer and you'll reach new heights in more ways than one. The 4.6-mile wonderland hike starts at 7,000 feet on the famed Pacific Crest Trail along Donner Pass Drive. And things just keep looking up from step one. First, ascend a granite headwall (via switchbacks) that rewards with a bird’s eye view of Lake Mary.

Then the trail levels out as it passes through pine and fir trees—some with giant, curiously curved trunks resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss book. The currently deserted chairlifts for Sugar Bowl crisscross the mountains to the west, and wildflowers like lupine, purple daisies, yellow mule's ears, and Indian paintbrush color parts of the trail. The last push comes nearly 2 miles in, as the landscape becomes more barren and boulder-strewn.

Mt. Judah’s peak checks in at 8,243 feet. From here superb views of Tahoe Basin abound: Donner Lake, Martis Valley, the Carson Range, Castle Peak, and Tinker Knob. Descend the mountain via the bare north ridge and back through the forest. Judah jubilation!

From I-80, take the Donner Lake or Soda Springs exit and follow Donner Pass Rd (Old Hwy 40) for about 4 miles. Look for "Pacific Crest Trail" (PCT) signs. The dirt parking lot is on the south side of the road by a cluster of buildings, east of Sugar Bowl ski resort. Walk south down a dirt road and find the PCT sign. The first 2 miles of the trail are on the PCT. At the first junction (in about 1 mile) there’s a left turn for Mt. Judah—don’t turn left; stay straight. In another mile, you’ll reach an obvious but unmarked junction (look for a “trail adopted by Bob & Lori Belden” sign). Make a hairpin left here to climb up to Mt. Judah. Descend the peak on the north side. About 1 mile from the peak you’ll reach a three-way junction; veer left. In another half-mile you’ll reach the PCT again, where you turn right and follow it back to the parking area. Dog-friendly!

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Up Umunhum

    Rising from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Umunhum is one of the Bay Area’s highest points, reaching an impressive 3,486 feet. With the new 7.4-mile (round-trip) addition to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, locals can finally step up to its peak.

  2. Napa's Wild Side

    It’s wine country’s Amazon. Cutting 50 miles through the famous Napa Valley and emptying into San Pablo Bay, the gentle Napa River is an ecological—and recreational—delight. And Napa Valley Paddle helps you enjoy it.

  3. Strolling With Sam

    Most people come to Samuel P. Taylor State Park for the beautiful creekside campground and picnic areas. But the hiking here can be pleasantly peaceful on a short trail featuring old-growth redwood trees.

  4. Sponsored

    Four Ways to Fall for North Lake Tahoe

    As vivid autumn colors start to line the sky and crowds begin to dwindle, North Lake Tahoe’s breathtaking secret season takes over and is a favorite among locals. With turning leaves, crisp air, and 12 towns to explore, North Lake Tahoe is the place to disconnect.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Apple of Your Eye

    That fall feeling is definitely in the air and on display at the Oak Glen Preserve. Apple orchards and colorful leaves are a bonus, as are the apple cider donuts and slushies you can enjoy post-hike.

  2. Secluded Royale

    Panoramic coastal views and a killer leg workout combine on this 2.7-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike to secluded Coast Royale Beach in Orange County

  3. Rock Star Hike

    The sandstone giants of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park might be the coolest damn formations in SoCal. Explore the craggy slabs on a 2.5-mile hike.

  4. Clarity in Claremont

    The majority of Claremont Hills Wilderness Park is inaccessible, rugged terrain but there’s a 4.9-mile moderate loop that’s well-maintained and feels gloriously far away, despite being close to the city.