Must-Do Wildflower Hikes Near Truckee this Summer


Wildflower season is undoubtedly our favorite and 2019 promises an INCREDIBLE season. With temperatures rising and the anticipation of lake days building, hiking through vast meadows decorated with rainbow florals is how we burn that spring fever. These hikes all range in ability level, from strolls through meadows to climbs up the highest peaks, there will be something here for everyone to enjoy. 


Sagehen Creek

Up north 89 you will find a wonderland of trails at all difficulty levels. Sagehen Creek is a moderate 5-mile there-and-back trail that boasts vivid fall colors. The trail starts at 89 about 7 miles from Truckee. You will find the trailhead tucked away to the right (if heading north from Truckee) immediately after a highway bridge for Sagehen Creek. If you hit the Little Truckee, you’ve gone too far. The trail will follow the creek all the way to the southeast arm of Stampede Reservoir. The trail is great for bringing along youngsters and dogs. We love to pack a  picnic to enjoy at Stampede. Make sure to head there by June for the ideal time to see wildflowers.

Tahoe Meadows & Mt. Rose

One of our favorite snowshoe trails is also one of our favorite hiking trails for wildflowers! The Tahoe Meadows loop on Mount Rose Summit is a great place for catching those gorgeous spring colors. Park along the south side of Mount Rose Highway at the valley just below the summit. There are a few different options for enjoying the scenery. Follow signs for Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop for an easy 1.3 mile walk around the meadow or head down trails pointing you towards the Tahoe Rim Trail for a slightly strenuous trail and be rewarded with sweeping views of Tahoe. This valley is one of our favorites and popular for its wildflowers and gorgeous views.

Different types of wildflowers mingling in the meadows

Different types of wildflowers mingling in the meadows

Coldstream Canyon

The best way to access the Coldstream trailhead is through the Donner Memorial State Park, but it may also be accessed through the Coldstream Valley Road south of the Donner Lake exit on I-80. This trail system is operated by California State parks and therefore has requires all dogs to be leashed. This trail is very popular year-round because of its proximity to town and Donner Lake as well as its alpine beauty. The trail is around five miles and has very little elevation gain, making it a long, but easy stroll. The glacier errosion is evident and provides spectacular scenery while you hike. Visit this trail in the early summer for those glorious wildflowers.

Hikers pass blooming Mule Ears along the Shirley Canyon, photo from Squaw Alpine.

Hikers pass blooming Mule Ears along the Shirley Canyon, photo from Squaw Alpine.

Five Lake

The Five Lakes Trail takes hikers through the beautiful Granite Chief Wilderness via Alpine Meadows. Though the hike is difficult, it should be manageable for almost everyone and will reward hikers with some great wildflowers and maybe a small waterfall or two this summer. The hike is 2.5 miles one way with a 1,000-foot climb that leads to, you guessed it, five pristine, alpine lakes. We suggest bringing along a backpack full of picnic and swimming supplies because once you make the journey to the top, you’ll want to hang out on the giant granite rocks surrounding each lake all afternoon.

Castle Peak, photo by    Paul Hamill Photography

Castle Peak, photo by Paul Hamill Photography

Castle Peak

Castle Peak is one of the most notorious peaks in the Truckee/North Tahoe region. We frequent the trail in the winter for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, but the summer months, filled with gorgeous flowers and views, are starting to win over our hearts. Hikers will have to endure a difficult ascent, but will be rewarded with views as far as the Coastal Range (on the clearest of days). To hike to the top, you must climb over 2,200 feet in a little under 5 miles. Since Castle Peak is so high, the snow typically takes until mid-July to fully clear off meaning that wildflowers can be seen as late as September.


Mt. Judah

Hands down, Mt. Judah is our favorite trail on Donner Summit and possibly in the area. It is a 5.50 mile loop that winds from the parking lot of the Sugar Bowl Academy, past the lifts of Sugar Bowl, and to the stunning views of Donner Lake on the Sierra Crest. The incredible wildflowers will sprout up later in the season because the elevation and mostly North and East facing slopes mean that snowmelt is slower here than other summits. Once they do pop up, the wildflowers on the Mt. Judah trail are unrivaled by any others in the area.