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If you’d rather not pay for a tram ride to see Squaw Valley and use your own two feet instead, Thunder Mountain Trail is the way to go.
It begins from the base area and goes straight up the valley, ending at High Camp, where you can ride the tram downhill for free.
Starting near the lodge and the bottom of Exhibition Lift, you’ll first walk past a small pond, then over a wide bridge across a rushing creek.
The trail proceeds to trace this creek for a while, and you’ll see countless small waterfalls on your journey uphill.
Traversing sunny alpine meadows, you’ll notice many wildflowers in the summertime.
Though the occasional tree casts a cool shadow, shade is scarce, and this hike can actually be quite hot, despite the elevation.
The good news is that you can dip your feet in the creek, or take advantage of the swimming pool at High Camp once you reach it.
The trail eventually leaves the creek and climbs on switchbacks into the mountain’s broad upper basin on the way to High Camp.
Once you reach it, you’ll find a number of things to do besides swim, including dining with an unbeatable view over the landscape. On the upper reaches of Thunder Mountain Trail, you’ll clearly see the cliffs called The Headwall and The Palisades, which form the precipitous face of Squaw Peak.
You can extend your hike to reach these cliffs, as well as the summit, by following part of the [Squaw Peak and Emigrant Peak Loop](https://fatmap.com/routeid/1579016/squaw-peak-and-emigrant-peak-loop).
When your legs have had enough, simply return to High Camp and ride the tram down. Sources: https://squawalpine.com/high-camp-experience https://squawalpine.com/events-things-do/walking-hiking-squaw-valley