Ophir Creek Trail

You won’t find this trail in many Lake Tahoe hiking books, and as a result it doesn’t see as much traffic as some of the other hiking trails in Lake Tahoe.  You’ll be rewarded by picturesque Price Lake at the end, which also has a campsite.  If you want a warmup, try the Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Loop Trail at the beginning of this hike.

  • Trailhead: Tahoe Meadows Tahoe Rim Trail parking lot, Highway 431  – Open in Google Maps.
  • Length: 6 miles round trip; 3 hours.
  • Difficulty: Moderate.  1,300′ climb on the return in the first 1.5 miles.
  • Usage: Hikers, dogs, and bikes.  Free, no permit required unless you’ll have a campfire.  Although bikes are allowed, the trail is very technical and steep and seldom used by bikes.
  • Best Time for Photography: You’ll get the best light on Price Lake and Slide Mountain early in the morning.  It will be in the shadows by afternoon.  This is a great late-spring to summer wildflower hike.
  • Trail Info Current: June 3, 2015
  • Further Reading: Lake Tahoe Basin Trail Map
  • Go back to Lake Tahoe Hikes map
map

Plots created using digital topographic map data, not actual GPS logs. Distance and elevation profiles are approximate.

Slide mountain

Appropriately named Slide Mountain (9,698′) behind small, secluded Price Lake

Ophir Creek to Price Lake Hike Narrative

I start this trail at the Tahoe Meadows Tahoe Rim Trail Trailhead, on the north side of Tahoe Meadows, just because I like the walk through the meadows.  You can alternately park on the side of the road on the south side of the meadows and take the shorter boardwalk to the trail.

tahoe meadows

The last of the evening light hitting a small stand of trees in Tahoe Meadows.

The first half-mile or so (depending on where you start) shares the trail with the Tahoe Rim Trail.  Bikes are allowed on even days of the month so you may see a few of them.  You’ll quickly leave the meadows and enter the forest.

wildflowers

Wildflowers starting to add some color to the Tahoe Meadows in late spring.

About a quarter-mile after entering the forest, you’ll get to some signs guiding Tahoe Rim Trail hikers to the right, and you’ll be going to the left for the Ophir Creek Trail.  The trail undulates through the forest here, and you’ll pass a few signs for the Middle and Lower Meadow Loop trails.  If you want a change of scenery, you can take these loops on your way down or way back up.

tahoe meadows

On Lower Meadow Loop, at the north end of Tahoe Meadows, looking south towards Rose Knob Peak

The descent is gradual for the first two miles.  After one more obvious descent about a mile in you’ll enter a clearing with views of Slide Mountain to your left and Washoe Valley in the distance.

ophir creek trail

The Ophir Creek Trail continuing downhill on the south side of Slide Mountain

The descent becomes steeper as you manage a few stream crossings (mostly dry by late summer).  You’ll have passing views of Washoe Lake and Washoe Valley for the next mile and a half.

washoe valley

Views of Washoe Valley from the Ophir Creek Trail

Two miles into the hike, the descent becomes quite steep – a 40% grade in some places with small boulders to cross.  Just think to yourself, I have to go back up this?!  It mostly continues this way until the official end of the Ophir Creek Trail when you’ll get to a dirt jeep trail.

indian paintbrush

The first of the Indian Paintbrush starting to bloom on the Ophir Creek Trail

At the jeep trail take a left.  A sign will guide you in this direction towards Price Lake.  Right will take you to Davis Creek County Park after another descent and a few more miles.

trail underwater

This is the trail to Price Lake after exiting the Ophir Creek Trail. Yes it’s under the water.

Price Lake lies only a quarter mile away now, on flat terrain.  You will have one stream crossing, which can be up past your ankles in early spring and after heavy winters.  There’s really no way around it, so you will get your feet wet.  Just after this crossing you’ll get to the south end of Price Lake.  Slide Mountain sits tall right behind the lake.

A small campsite and fire pit is on the south end as well.

price lake

Upper Price Lake. Slide Mountain is behind it. You can see where it gets its name!

Tips for the Ophir Creek Trail

  • Change it up and take one of the meadow loops on your way out or your return!  The wildflowers put on quite a show.
  • If you don’t want to get your boots and socks wet, you may want some Keens or something like that for the last stream crossing.  Unless you go in late summer, when it’ll most likely be dry (no guarantees!).
  • Early morning is the best time to go, both for the lighting and cooler temperatures.  Much of the trail is exposed and it can get hot in the late afternoon.

Corrections, suggestions, or questions?  Please leave a comment below!

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