Eureka Peak Backcountry Ski Trip Report
This trip report covers what we decided to do and what you should do instead.
Eureka Peak, Johnsville
Eureka Peak is about an hour north of Truckee, located in Johnsville, CA near Eureka Lake and the historic Ski Bowl where the famous Long Board Races and the Lost Sierra Hoedown are held.
Johnsville, CA is an hour drive outside of Truckee on Hwy 89 N. Once you reach Graeagle you will turn left onto Johnsville Rd. Stay on this road as you go through the town of Mohawk and historic downtown Johnsville. Follow the road up until it ends at Ski Bowl parking lot. Park there and get ready to adventure.
Note: We parked down the road from the Ski Bowl lot about 1 mile at the Plumas-Eureka State Park. We were hoping to get a little more vert and a longer ride down. Coverage was low and moral was lower for the first few hundred feet. This is not the recommended route.
The Route We Took
We arrived at the trailhead at 9:30am and were on the trail at about 10am. The weather was sunny with not a cloud in the sky and about 45 degrees as a high. We had a group of three women and two men. Avalanche conditions were moderate with recent winds and solar input being our main focuses. We checked Sierra Avalanche Center before we left to get an idea of what is going on in nearby areas, but Eureka Peak, as well as surrounding areas, does not actually have an avalanche safety reporting center of its own.
From Plumas-Eureka State Park, we started heading North on the groomed path. About 1/2 mile out, we realized this was not the route we had planned, so we turned around in the direction of the cars. Once we were nearly back at the cars, we started heading up through the historic buildings and towards Eureka Peak. We hit a snow covered road that looked promising, but after following it for awhile, realized it was not leading us up either, but rather around. We decided to trudge through the manzanitas. After a hard and steep hike through tree branches, rocks, and bushes, we finally made it to some terrain with decent snow coverage. At this point, we decided the worst was probably behind us and to keep heading up, knowing we would be taking a different route down. From there, we climbed about 2400ft to the summit in some wet and sticky snow. About 500 feet from the summit, while traversing an exposed bowl, we were all wishing we had some Mountain Flow EcoWax in our packs. As we traversed we noted many roller balls near the summit on slope angles of about 32-36 degrees.
Once we reached the summit, at about 1pm (yes, it took us three hours due to the rocky start -pun intended!) we had some snacks and sat on the rocks to take in the view. We also chatted about which lines we thought would be the best and the safest. At this point in the day the snow was very slushy and sticky.
We descended down an East facing bowl which offered fun spring corn turns. At the bottom of the bowl, we headed left with a steady traverse towards the Ski Bowl parking area, making sure to get as many turns as possible on the way. After about 1500ft of descent, we hit a skin track and stayed on that all the way to the Ski Bowl parking lot. Coverage was great but the sun exposed snow was slow.
Once we hit the parking lot, we had a 1 mile road hike back to the cars on a road with .
The Route You Should Take
We recommend parking at Ski Bowl parking lot (blue marker on Caltopo map below), skinning up the ridgeline to the peak and riding back down to the parking lot. We would recommend even lapping the top bowls a few times if you are up for it. This will save you some very unnecessary vert and frustration through low to no coverage terrain. This route will offer the best snow, best turns, and best time!
We were back at the cars at 3pm, where we had a well earned beer.
After our adventure day, we had worked up an appetite. We stopped at Graeagle Mountain Frostees for some burgers and fries. The food was quick and hit the spot. They have outdoor seating with a view and the staff was awesome. Highly recommend after any adventure in historic Johnsville, CA!
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