Verdi Peak, Boca Reservoir, Stampede Reservoir, Prosser Creek Reservoir
Exploring alone has brought me some my favorite experiences. Trekking around solo brings the opportunity to literally stop, take a deep breath and seriously just enjoy the view. Whatever the view is, just stop and enjoy life for a moment. Having the ability to take your 4Runner or 4×4 up to a peak, by yourself, and to have the confidence in getting there is something few get to experience. Enjoy it, and do it more if that makes you happy!
A quick back-story, I grew up in Quincy, CA before moving to Sacramento when I was 11. That’s it, that’s the story. Head north on Highway 89 from Truckee and you will eventually run into a very small town in Plumas County with one stoplight. My family from Quincy and family from Aptos, CA grabbed an Airbnb in Tahoe Donner, so we tagged along but I had a free day. Obviously, I wanted to explore.
I had my eyes set on Verdi Peak, Boca Reservoir, and Stampede Reservoir for a while. Boca Reservoir is right off Highway 80 and offers a wide variety of off-shoot trails along the way to Stampede Reservoir. Boca Reservoir also connects to Prosser Creek Reservoir, though Boca Dam Reservoir road, but it might be closed depending on the time of year you go (it was closed on this trip). These three Reservoirs are a great day trip, weekend camping spot or quick little trail if you are looking for something to do.
The weather was awesome as I got best of both worlds. It started off snowing in the morning, cleared up towards mid-day and then started back again at the end of the day. It really was an epic day trip.
Boca Reservoir offers a few campsites, more or less day BBQ spots next to the water. Boca Reservoir alone has great views of Northstar At Tahoe and offers a place to rest for the day or night. Driving through Boca Reservoir, we saw a family of 10+ deer, a beautiful fox, and more mountain peaks than I could count.
In the winter, Boca Reservoir may be partially frozen over and many roads that sound the Reservoir will be closed. My favorite part about Boca Reservoir was the ability to drive down to the water. You can drive on a very large stretch of beach where you will find boat launches in the summer.
Verdi Peak (Awesome Views of Northstar at Tahoe)
I can’t speak to the peak its self as I only trekked about 7 miles up the hill towards Verdi Peak. It had just snowed the night before and into the morning so the pack was fresh. As I started up the trail, there were previous tracks but only one set (up and down). About 4 miles up the hill where the terrain became a bit rough, you could see where the other truck turned around. I dropped the 4Runner into 4Lo and smashed through a steep jagged snow-covered rock incline only to be met with an open trail of fresh powder. It was super pretty.
As I continued a few more miles up towards Verdi Peak, the snow started to get deeper. Keep in mind, I was by myself with little to no cell coverage, no winch, and no one in sight for 10 miles. I came around a bend in the trail that opened up into a clearing then lead into a narrow, shaded area of deep snow on the side of a cliff that read: “fuck off”. It was sketch. Even a 1st gen 4Runner with 37’s would have thought it might be a bad idea.
Heading down Verdi Peak
I pondered the thought of pushing through a few times, and then came to the realization that I have a few years of life left to live and this trail is not far from home. I will be back.
After coming down off the hill from the Verdi Peak trail, I made my way up to Stampede Reservoir. The main paved roads were all covered in snow, so I didn’t know what to expect, which is really the beauty of exploring. It really is “not knowing what’s around the corner” that does it for me. And, it never get’s old. Heading up Stampede Reservoir Road, I saw another super pretty fox that stopped and stared at me, which gave me just enough time to pull the camera out and then he was gone.
Stampede Reservoir Dam road was closed so I drove up a bit further and then landed on a random fire road that was not on the maps. I drove about 3 miles up and into another area of Tahoe National Forest which ended up being a back-side entrance to Verdi Peak. It was covered in snow, not one track from the turn-off. Again, I got to sections on this trail that were a little too deep for me and I had to swing it out.
Prosser Creek Reservoir & Prosser Pits
After exploring Verdi Peak, Boca Reservoir, and the Stampede Reservoir area, I headed back down Highway 80 towards Truckee and Highway 89. I jumped on 89 towards Prosser Creek Reservoir. I drove out Prosser Creek Dam Road towards the Prosser Pits and explored for about an hour.
I am not too sure if I had any business in the pits, but it was fun. This is really branded as a motocross track, not an OHV in general track. The pits along with Prosser Hill is mainly a motocross area. There was no one out here when I arrived, which was nice. I got sideways, hit some dips and then pulled out. OHV parks have never really been my thing anyway. But, this is a really cool little spot that I happened to just stumble upon. How can you not drive down a road that is labeled the pits?
Getting Stuck at Prosser Creek Reservoir
Yeah, I got stuck. I didn’t just get stuck, I was buried in a hole. I was by myself, without a winch and all I had was a few off-road accessories, like a shovel, an axe, and some recovery gear. It was also incredibly cold, like 10 degrees with an off and on wind-chill. I was on solid ground and all around me was exposed rock and logs. It looked and felt like another day at the beach.
As I turned the 4Runner and started back up the hill, boom. I dropped into an extremely deep, muddy, decrepit wood sink-hole. It was deep and nasty. Before jumping the gun and punching it forward and reverse, which usually only gets you deeper, I hopped out to take a look at the situation. I also phoned a few friends right away and let them know where I was just in case. I grabbed my shovel and started digging behind my rear driver tire. I was hitting a massive rock.
I grabbed my Axe and was able to break away part of the rock and then lodged the broken piece under my tire for a bit of traction. I dropped it into 4LO, engaged my locker and then slowly backed out. I had to dig a few different times but thank god for the locker.
After I got out of the hole, I noticed that I was surrounded by this decrepit wood sink-hole. It was incredibly interesting turning around. I have never seen anything like this before. This shit was super sketchy, and I was ready for a beer. Of course, I did a 10 point turn, got out and then snapped a few pictures.
One last shot of the Toyo’s getting some good use.