Shealor Lakes and Silver Fork Ridge


Summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 6.4 miles round trip
Starting
Elevation
7950 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+1050, -1050 feet
Navigation Road, marked trail and map
Time Most of a day
Season Early December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Low use
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Tragedy Spring
Start On the north side of Highway 88 at Tragedy Spring, 9.0 miles east of Peddler Hill Maintenance Station and 2.9 miles west of the Silver Lake dam.


Description

The six-mile tour along the ridge separating Shealor Lakes and the Silver Fork of the American River is a little known gem. A short ski from the highway puts you on the ridge. Beyond it is easy to follow the ridge as you absorb the outrageous views surrounding you including the nearby red cliffs of Thunder Mountain that contrast to the white snow and far-away Pyramid Peak in Desolation Wilderness to the north. Also impressive is the view down to frozen North Tragedy Creek and Shealor Lakes.

Image along ridge of Pyramid Peak in Desolation Wilderness
Looking north along ridge at Pyramid Peak in Desolation Wilderness

The really unique feature of this tour is the fact that you do not climb onto the ridge. Instead, as you ski level past a quarry the land on both sides of you drops away leaving you on a ridge. The route described is nearly entirely along the ridge top, but in places, depending on the snow conditions and your skills, you may want to ski to the side of the very top.

It is not necessary to ski all the way to Peak 7620 as described here to enjoy this tour — ski as far as you desire and then retrace your route.

Two variations of this tour (Option 1 and Option 2), both ending at Silver Lake, avoid retracing your route back along the ridge. The real hearty can end the day by climbing from Silver Lake back up to Tragedy Spring, but that tour is not yet available in this guide..

Image looking north at Pyramid Peak and Desolation Wilderness
Another view of Pyramid Peak in Desolation Wilderness

Those who enjoy skiing ridges, but are looking for more exhilerating terrain, should consider the Ridge West of Shealor Lakes tour.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.4
Elevation change: +50, -100 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski east and then north on a snow-covered road for at total of 0.4 mile until you reach a large, flat and open area (2) that is a quarry in summer.

Image of skiers on road leading to quarry.
Along road to quarry.

Miles: 0.4 - 1.3
Elevation change: +50, -200 feet

Locate and follow the ridge north for 0.9 miles until you reach Peak 7752 (3).

Miles: 1.3 - 2.2
Elevation change: +50, -250 feet

Ski north on the ridge for 0.9 mile until your reach a point to the east of Peak 7681 (4) from which you can clearly see the route north below you. In this section you ski on the ridge until you reach a saddle and then you traverse and climb around the east (right) side of Peak 7681.

Miles: 2.2 - 2.6
Elevation change: +50, -100 feet

Ski north on the ridge for 0.4 mile until you reach a point to the east of Peak 7609 (5).

Miles: 2.6 - 3.2
Elevation change: +150, -50 feet

Ski north and then west (left) for a total of 0.6 mile until you reach Peak 7620 (6).

Image of skiers installing sign at Peak 7620
Skier installs sign at Peak 7620; contact Snowlands Network to volunteer to help mark backcountry ski trails

Miles: 3.2 - 6.4
Elevation change: +700, -350 feet

Retrace the route for 3.2 miles 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