3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
Lake Tahoe is essentially a pool of water at the bottom of an especially huge alpine basin.
There are many tall peaks within or on the perimeter of Tahoe’s watershed, most of which can be seen in a 360° panorama from a boat on the lake.
Some of these peaks popular trails to their summits, like Mount Tallac and Mount Rose.
While these summits are quite prominent, neither is the tallest of the mountains around Lake Tahoe.
That title actually belongs to a lesser-known mountain called Freel Peak. Not dramatically higher than the rest, but decidedly so at 10,881 feet, Freel rests humbly removed from major attention, sitting a few miles back from Tahoe’s southeast shore.
It is noticeable from most places on the lake, and from locations in South Lake Tahoe and Meyers, however.
Together with two neighboring peaks, Freel forms a pretty impressive skyline of treeless, snowy summits in the winter.
Despite that, there is no ski resort on its slopes, no road to the top, and no fanfare to acknowledge its superlative.
There IS a trail to the summit, however. The Freel Peak Trail begins from Armstrong Pass, at the Tahoe Rim Trail.
The most direct way to reach it is an access route from Fountain Place Road, which comes from Meyers.
Take this dirt road to a closed gate, then continue past the gate on the closed road to a trail that follows a steep drainage. The slope starts out heavily forested, but vegetation thins as the terrain gets steeper and rockier.
The trail passes beneath some large rock fins and weaves among boulders.
Just before reaching the saddle and the junction with the Tahoe Rim Trail, a stretch of loose rocks and sand guards the final 100 feet or so.
After topping out, you will soon see the well-traveled Tahoe Rim, then a signed spur that leads farther up, leaving the trees behind for a bouldery and wind-swept ridgeline.
Some spots on the trail provide a vertigo-inducing vantage over the cliff-lined bowl in Freel’s north face. The trail cuts beneath a false summit of Freel, then gains the mountain’s crest for a brief traverse to the true summit.
From the barren talus field atop Freel, you can see everything in all directions—Lake Tahoe and Heavenly Resort to the north, the desert of the Carson Valley lying to the east, and the Sierra Nevada spanning the western horizon.
To extend the adventure, you can tag the summit of Jobs Sister Peak along the same ridgeline before heading back down. Sources: https://www.summitpost.org/freel-peak/151340 https://thetahoeweekly.com/2017/09/freel-peak-bagging-tahoes-tallest/