1,200’ - 2,000’
6,300’ – 8,800’ (2,500’)
From nearly anywhere on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, and especially on the drive from Kings Beach to Incline Village, one can easily make out Herlan Peak, recognizable by its flat summit, and long-running chutes down to the lake. Although Herlan is so identifiable, many skiers in the area have never skied it. This East Shore peak is very much off the Tahoe backcountry radar. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any good skiing. Perfectly spaced glades grace Herlan’s northern aspects, making for another location to explore for some great powder skiing. Combine this with the incredible lake views spanning below you, and fall-line skiing back to your car, and your first time here won’t be your last. From the summit, a long ridgeline separates the north facing trees from the run that faces the lake. This ridgeline is subdued enough so that you can ski the first 600’ of the north glades before traversing skier’s left over the ridge for the remaining 1,900’ run down to the car. Or, stay back in these north facing glades for a couple laps before the last run down.
It is worth mentioning that the East Shore of Lake Tahoe receives significantly less snow than the West Shore. This can be a saving grace during epic storms, where breaking trail through 4 feet of fresh on the West Shore would leave you exhausted, while Herlan might have a manageable and fun 2 feet. This can also work against you in lean snow years, where Herlan might be patchy and the West Shore covered, so plan accordingly.
During times of high snowpack and limited sun exposure, the west facing chutes of Herlan peak beckon. These are called the “Bear Claw” or “Bear Scratch” chutes. Due to the relatively low snowfalls seen on the East Shore, and its western exposure, Bear Claw must be timed perfectly to enjoy quality snow and keep your bases intact. This being said, when they are ripe for the picking, these are the some of the finest lines in Tahoe, running over 2,000’ down to the lakeshore.
To get to Herlan Peak, drive roughly 4 miles south on Highway 28 from Incline Village, and park in the “Scenic Pullout” near Sand Harbor. There is a large restroom facility and interpretive signage here, and space for about 30 cars. Signs say to park for no longer than an hour, but this most relevant in the summer when hoards of tourists stop here. Begin your skin a few hundred yards south of the pullout. Even if the snowpack is discouragingly low at lake level, coverage will be better higher up in the trees. An obvious drainage takes you up to a large, unnatural swath cut out of the forest. This swath is a great landmark, and the most popular descent option through the lower elevation, tightly spaced trees. This logging scar directs you nicely to the ridge that separates the lake run from the north glades. Follow this ridge to the summit.