Jake's Peak - Backcountry Skiing

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A Tahoe favorite due to its easy access and minimal approach combined with unsurpassed lake views and perfect steep stashes of powder or spring corn.

Written by

Ben Hogan


3.0 miles

Round trip, about 1.5 miles up and down, this can vary depending on the skin track.

Destination Distance From Downtown

11.0 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

This is a more strenuous ski tour with less concern for route finding but 2,350 feet of vertical gain over a 1.5 mile climb.

Time To Complete

1 hours

You could sprint up it in an hour or do some laps making the most of the powder all day long.


Spring and Winter

Jake's a winter ski destination with a great southeast slope for spring corn as well.

Dog Friendly




Easily one of the best ski tours in Lake Tahoe (and at times also one of the more trafficked), Jake’s is a gem with unsurpassed lake views and consistent steep skiing right back to the car. The local history with Jake’s is rich. It was named after a popular Alpine Meadows ski patroller, Jake Smith, who died in the massive 1982 avalanche that hit the base area of the ski resort. Smith’s brother worked with the US Board on Geographic Names over the three years following his death to have the West Lake Tahoe Peak named in his honor. Consequently this area has become a classic Lake Tahoe ski with great powder stashes, even days after a storm.

What Makes It Great

The views of Lake Tahoe while hiking and skiing on Jake’s Peak make you feel like you are on a cover photo-shoot for a ski magazine. Jake’s offers a panoramic view of nearly the entire lake as a backdrop to perfect steep powder lines. It feels like you could just ski right into the lake. This area of the West shore is notorious for stair-stepper straight-up ski tours and Jake’s is no different. It has virtually no approach and the skin track quickly begins it steep switch-backing ascent, first topping off at an upper bench, followed by another similar steep section to the top. Offering both a slight northeast aspect to hold cold powder stashes, as well as a southeast facing, large open chute towards Emerald Bay, with softening corn on spring mornings. 

Most of the winter sees tracks on the more northeast aspect; this zone opens sporadically into perfect small chutes and wonderfully spaced trees. Powder often pulls skiers slightly to the north (skiers left) in the lower section but don’t stray too far from the skin track or you’ll be walking along the road to get back to your car. Exercise caution as always when traveling in avalanche terrain; make sure your group is equipped with avalanche shovels, beacons, probes and most importantly the knowledge to avoid avalanches and use your equipment.  

Who is Going to Love It

Experienced backcountry skiers and split boarders will enjoy the no nonsense steep skin track up Jake’s with each step working towards another ripping powder turn. For many skiers Jake’s is as good as it gets, a near-perfect tour that delivers great turns time and time again. Get ready for kick turn after kick turn as you ascend to a brief low-angle bench where you can grab a snack or some water before the climb resumes to the summit.

Once you are breathing in that thin mountain air from the top of the peak, Jake’s will reward you with views not only of Lake Tahoe but also sweeping southwest over the expanse of Desolation Wilderness. Then rip off those skins, take a few panoramic pictures and enjoy some of the best turns in the Tahoe Basin back down to the road.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Recent California Department of Transportation construction to CA-89 led to significant reduction in size of the parking pull out for Jake’s. In response the Forest Service has permitted the use of parking (when plowing allows) at the D.L Bliss State Park upper entrance lot, just a few minutes walk down the road. Since parking can reach capacity, make sure to start your Jake’s tour early in the morning to make sure you get a spot.

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