Storm The Fortress
Shown on very old maps as Crystal Peak, the name was changed in 1877 to Mt Tallac based on an Indian phrase, meaning large mountain. Mt. Tallac towers 3500 feet above the south shoreline of Lake Tahoe known as the Tallac Historic site. Four summer homes of the wealthy, along with over thirty structures are preserved here that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Tallac was the name given to the resort built here by "Lucky" Baldwin in 1880. It was stated to be the "Grandest Resort In The World" at the time and featured two lavish hotels, a massive casino with 500 electric lights, a string orchestra, croquet, tennis, steam boat rides, promenade strolls and a dance floor mounted on springs. Horizontal and vertical sheer rock crevices of Mt. Tallac form a huge cross of snow on the mountain which lasts well into spring annually.
Mt Tallac is not the tallest mountain or most difficult to hike or climb in the region but because of its dramatic location and ease of access to trailheads it has become a favorite to locals and visitors with the payoff being some of the most beautiful panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, Mt Rose along with the Carson Range, the Desolation Wilderness including Gilmore Lake, the Velmas, Lake Aloha, Pyramid Peak, and the rest of the Crystal Range.
Mt Tallac presents a great challenge year round to a variety of sports be it hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, and skiing but is described here as a summer hike. Many people attempt this hike and are turned back from insufficient food, water or its difficulty. Keep in mind that someone in good condition should allow no less than six hours to do this hike. Moderate condition figure eight hours or more. The trail heads up and into the forest for the first two thirds of a mile gaining 300 feet. The trail levels off enough to catch your breath and on to the second leg. The next two thirds of a mile brings you up to 500 feet total gain as the trail follows a ridge line offering nice views of Fallen Leaf Lake on your left. Catch your breath again as the trail turns westward into an area with heavy tree fall. Soon you hear a creek off to your right. This is Cathedral Creek flowing out of Floating Island Lake which you arrive at shortly at 1.65 miles. From Floating Island Lake, the trail climbs briefly out of the trees thru a very rocky section. Cathedral Creek is still off to your right and provides clear, cold water to filter if you are so inclined. After 2.25 miles and 1050 feet of elevation you are rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of Fallen Leaf Lake with Lake Tahoe in the background which makes for a great place to relax and refuel. A short time up the trail now brings you to Cathedral Lake on your left. it's a small, picturesque alpine lake that is difficult to photograph. A great place either to or from to take a refreshing, chilly swim. The trail now serpentines up and around the right side of Cathedral peak getting steeper now. It heads straight for the cirque ahead which can hold snow late into the summer. The trail then makes an abrupt right turn and gets even steeper as it heads for the talus above. Heavy scree for an extended time leads to bouldering and finally the saddle. Many people think this is it. The views are awesome but if you were to check your electronics you would see that you have only traveled 3.5 miles and gained 2300 feet. You still have over mile and one thousand feet to go as the true peak is not in sight at this point. Many, not knowing, turn around here thinking they have reached their goal. Others are so spent they turn around here so the numbers definitely thin out from here. The trail levels off for a period and comes to a junction with the trail coming from Gilmore Lake. Turn right at the junction and start your final ascent. it's a steady climb now with only a few trees offering a shady place to catch your breath. Soon the rocky peak of Mt. Tallac comes into view. The trail curves around the right side then makes a beeline up to the peak with the last few hundred yards being a boulder crawl. The views from up top are phenomenal in all directions with a dramatic drop off to the north and east. Savor your accomplishment and return the way you came.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.