Huysink Lake and Peak 6966 Loop


Summary

Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 4.7 miles round trip
Starting
Elevation
5750 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+1350, -1350 round trip
Navigation Road, map and compass
Time Most of a day
Season Late December through early April
Snowmobiles Low (see description for more details)
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Cisco Grove
Start Small, snow-covered road on the south side of Hampshire Rocks Road (old Highway 40 or Donner Pass Road) and 0.1 mile west of the Big Bend Ranger Station (closed in winter). From eastbound Interstate 80, take Big Bend exit, turn east (left) onto Hampshire Rocks Road, and drive 0.15 mile to the trailhead. From westbound Interstate 80, take Big Bend/Rainbow Road exit, turn left and go under the highway, turn right onto Hampshire Rocks Road, and drive 1.2 miles to the trailhead.

Be aware that there is no well-defined parking place. In spring you will find parking nearby along the highway. Other times you will have to search for a legal place to park.


Description

The tour to Huysink Lake and Peak 6966 treats you to wonderful terrain above the lake and an outstanding vista from the peak. Instead of retracing your steps after reaching the peak, you can descend back to the trailhead by the route described in this loop tour. However, keep in mind that the difficulty is a notch higher because the route is steeper, it passes through a stretch of dense trees and it requires significant confidence in your ability to navigate by map and compass.

The first thing you notice upon reaching the summit is massive Snow Mountain to the southeast. Also easy to identify is Castle Peak to the northeast. Off in the distance between these two icons are the many peaks that lie between Sugar Bowl and Squaw ski resorts.

Image of Snow Mountain and other peaks
Snow Mountain on right with other peaks on left


Image of Castle Peak
Castle Peak

A landmark along the route, only 0.1 mile from Peak 6966, is the unmistakable "broccoli tree." Yep, it looks like a massive stalk of that cruciferous vegetable.

Image of Broccoli Tree
The "Broccoli Tree"

Snowmobile use in this area is low in terms of overall numbers, but cabin owners near the start often track the road. Fortunately a late March or early April tour will allow you to avoid the machines and enjoy the best snow conditions the Sierra has to offer. Why is this so? Because at least one creek cuts across the access road during the spring melt and forms a barrier to snowmobile travel. Of course this will require you to take off your skis and cross.

Keep in mind that while spring-time brings the consolidation of the snowpack and the melt-freeze cycle creates wonderful corn-snow, this tour is entirely on north-facing slopes and begins at only 5750 feet elevation. Be sure to pick a fair-weather spring day when you know that the snow will thaw for your return descent. Mid-winter the best time is after a cold storm when the snow remains soft.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.4
Elevation change: Nil

From the trailhead (1) ski south and then west on a snow-covered road for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach an obscure road junction (2).

Miles: 0.4 - 1.2
Elevation change: +250 feet

Take the road to the south (left) and follow its convoluted path to the southwest for 0.8 mile until you reach the railroad tracks (9). Waypoints 3 through 8 are additional waypoints provided for this section.

Image of skiers ascending along road
Route climbs steadily along road

Miles: 1.2 - 1.6
Elevation change: +200 feet

Take off your skis and cross the railroad tracks. Be aware that in heavy snow years the banks on both sides of the tracks can be difficult to negotiate. You may find a shovel useful.

It goes without saying that you should exercise extreme caution when crossing the railroad tracks — use both your eyes and ears.

After crossing the tracks, continue skiing southwest and then west on the snow-covered road for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach a sharp turn in the road (11). Waypoint 10 is an additional waypoint provided for this section.

Miles: 1.6 - 2.1
Elevation change: +300, -50 feet

Continue south on the snow-covered road for 0.5 mile until you reach Huysink Lake (12) located in a saddle. You can see the saddle as you approach the highest point of the tour a short distance before the lake.

Image of Huysink Lake
Huysink Lake

Miles: 2.1 - 2.7
Elevation change: +350 feet

Loop around the north side of a small knob and then ski slightly south of east for a total of 0.6 mile until you reach a flat area between two higher areas (13).

Miles: 2.7 - 2.9
Elevation change: +150 feet

Climb gradually east for 0.2 mile until you reach the lone, large, broccoli tree (14).

Miles: 2.9 - 3.0
Elevation change: +50, -50 feet

Continue slightly south of east for 0.1 mile, crossing a small dip, until you reach Peak 6966 (15).

Miles: 3.0 - 3.1
Elevation change: +50, -50 feet

Ski slightly north of west for 0.1 mile back to the broccoli tree (14).

Image looking down at railroad tracks with Signal Peak on far right
View looking down at railroad tracks with Signal Peak on far right

Miles: 3.1 - 3.8
Elevation change: -900 feet

Begin by descending to the northwest, gradually curve to the north and finally curve slightly east of north for a total of 0.7 mile until you intersect the railroad tracks just south of a very small finger that juts north (17). The trees become noticeably more dense as you approach the railroad tracks. Waypoint 16 is an additional waypoint provided for this section.

You will find the terrain ahead more difficult if you intersect the railroad tracks west of waypoint 17 and then continue to descend.

Image of skiers descending the open area high above the railroad tracks
Enjoying the descent high above the railroad tracks

Miles: 3.8 - 4.2
Elevation change: -250 feet

Cross the railroad tracks cautiously and then descend northeast through the trees for approximately 0.4 mile until you reach the road (3) you ascended earlier. You may not intersect the road exactly as shown on the map.

Miles: 4.2 - 4.7
Elevation change: -50 feet

Retrace the route for 0.5 mile back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour