Genoa Peak 4×4 Trail on the East Shore of Lake Tahoe – Full Review and Overview
Located on the East side of Lake Tahoe sits Genoa Peak, a 9,150ft mountain peak with epic views.
The peak looks out over South Lake Tahoe, West Shore, Homewood, and all the way up to Kings Beach. The views at the top of this peak are absolutely amazing, especially after knowing where everything is around the lake.
If you find yourself on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, you may want to check out the trail around Homewood Mountain, Blackwood Canyon, and Ellis Peak, or if you’re capable enough – the Rubicon.
If you find yourself in South Lake Tahoe or Incline Village and want a fun trail to hit for the day, this is a great option. Genoa Peak Trail is a 9.7-mile trail from start to finish and can be done in about 2-5 hours depending on how fast you travel. It took me just about 5 hours in the 4Runner with exploring random off-shoot trails and stopping frequently.
There are many off-shoots on the trail and some will take you to other peaks. Some spots would be great for setting up camp and many of them are near or along the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Just note: Don’t drive, park or camp along the Tahoe Rim Trail unless you park somewhere off the trail.
Driving on the Tahoe Rim Trail is not allowed, and if you accidentally oversteer onto the path, then find your way back to the main marked road.
Genoa Peak trail is primarily used for side by sides, motorcycles, and off-road driving. The gates are usually open from May until November depending on the weather. Please contact the Forest Service or check alltrails.com in the comments section before attempting this route if you think the gates are closed.
Stock trucks will make this trail. If you drive up from the south side of the trail, however, expect to drive through a couple of light rock gardens that’ll make your climb a little more challenging.
Lifted trucks with oversized tires will be plenty fine.
Genoa Peak Details
- Distance: 9.7 Miles
- Difficulty: Easy
- Gates Open: May – Nov
- Elevation: 9150ft
My Gaia GPS Route
- Genoa Peak – Map of my route
- Date: 6/29/19, 7:39:54 AM PDT
- Distance: 16.1 mi
- Time: 05:46:55
- Average Speed: 2.8 mph
- Max Speed: 36.4 mph
- Ascent: 3,190.5 ft
- Min/Max Altitude:7,374.2 ft, 9,073.2 ft
- Started: 7:39:55 AM – (39.09730, -119.91031)
- Ended: 1:26:50 PM – (38.98153, -119.89320)
If you don’t yet have a Gaia GPS account, it’s well worth it. I highly recommend downloading the app and buying a subscription.
Starting on the North Side or South Side?
Map to start the trail from the North
Starting at the North side on Highway 50 at Highway 28 is close to Glenbrook, CA, and Spooner Lake. This is where I started. From here, you have a gradually-elevating gravel road with long gentle whoops and as you approach the top of the hill towards White Hill. At this point, there will be some more rutted out areas but nothing that requires 4wd.
Map to start the trail from the South
Starting the trail at the Tahoe Rim Trail and Kingsbury North will be closer to South Lake Tahoe. Again, the trail is very easy all the way through until you hit the South side of Genoa Peak, the last 300 yards. The last 300 yards to the peak is the most “challenging” which turned out to be not that challenging at all. I just wanted to mention that if you have a stock truck with factory running boards, you may bottom out on a rock.
You can take a slight turn off at the north end of the trail for White Hill. As you approach the top, there are a few more rutted out sections. Once you hit the top, you have the option of crawling to a top platform at the last 10 yards. Here is where White Hill overlooks Spooner Lake and Lake Tahoe; amazing views, here, if have time to stop. However, it’s nothing like the views from the top of Genoa Peak.
There are a few side roads that will lead you to the Tahoe Rim Trail and many surrounding trails. But, these roads will eventually come to a dead-end. I attempted to take as many random roads as possible, but it didn’t get me very far. These roads have fallen trees throughout, and even if you bring a chainsaw, you can’t go much further as the roads narrow and eventually end. There were also quite a few spots that would have made a great campsite. Just something to note.
Approaching Genoa Peak
As you approach the top of Genoa Peak and rise above the tree line, the views open up and you’re met with a breathtaking view of Lake Tahoe from the South to the North side. This is nothing short of the most spectacular view of Lake Tahoe that I have ever seen.
Once you approach the peak, the views get bigger and better. There is a small spot to turn around at the top and a pile of rocks you can crawl on if you are tempted (pictured).
If you’re feeling up for it, take a hike 100 yards to the top of the peak where the repeaters and cell towers sit. From here, you’ll feel like you can see the world.
Looking towards the North East, you can see Carson City. And to the South East, take in views of Minden, Gardnerville, and far down the 395 towards Topaz Lake.
From the entire West side, you can look out over Lake Tahoe. From North Lake and Kings Beach to South Lake and the Casinos, you can see it all.
The South Side of Genoa Peak
I drove down the south side out towards Kingsbury. This section was by far the most fun. There are sections with large slate rocks and some with 1′ or more drops. This is nothing a stock truck won’t be able to make it through, but with factory running boards, expect a scrape or two. Any truck with a 2″+ lift and 33″ tires will have a great time.
There is a really cool area out on the trail with a bunch of whoops and a side area to explore that, also, leads to another peak.
On the South side of the trail, most of the road is pretty mellow. However, there are LOTS of whoops–and when I say lots, I mean at least 2-3 miles. So. Many. Whoops.
Never leave home without your MORRflate.
If you are looking for a fun and easy 4×4 trail in South Lake, East Lake, or North Lake Tahoe, then Genoa Peak is a great option that’s easily accessed from the north or south. This is a good trail for beginners, stock trucks or close to stock trucks. With that being said, I still saw JKs on 37s, side by sides, and motorcycles out here. It’s all about the view once you hit the top of Genoa Peak.
Even though my girls stayed back for this trail, it would be a great introductory trail for your family. It’s easy, it can be done in around 2-4 hours, and it features some epic views. The whole family would have a great day on this trail.
That’s it—that’s my review of Genoa Peak Trail!
I drove this trail in 2012 when I bought my FJ Cruiser, easy trail We came in from the south. Will do it again next weekend while we are at Squaw Valley for 3 days. Another nice Tahoe viewing trail is Barker Pass over Homewood ski resort. Also easy.
I usually sleep in my car on overlanding trips – are there any locations along the genoa peak trail that are good for camping in your car?
Family has a cabin up off of S. Benjamin and this has been our playground growing up, new entrance construction coming in off N. Benjamin/Andria Dr. but that should be done in a month or so. Lot’s of Whoops and great area to test your ride & skills. Some hidden trails as Brenan stated, You’ll find them 😉
Looks like a great trip, I don’t know why I haven’t heard of this trail before. I’ll have to go and explore it. I bet Tyler would love to try it in the winter 🙂
The gates are closed in the winter but he would be like a kid in a candy shop with all the repeaters on top of this mountain. lol… So. Many. Repeaters!!! AHhhhh.