Freel Peak Hike
Freel Peak is the tallest mountain in the Lake Tahoe Basin at 10,881′. It’s possible to do it in a day but there are quite a few camping opportunities in the area, as well as a few other peaks to bag while you’re there!
- Trailhead: Via Star Lake: end of High Meadow Trail Rd – Open in Google Maps.
Via Armstrong Pass: end of Fountain Place Rd – Open in Google Maps.
- Length: 14.2 miles round-trip via Armstrong Pass; 17.8 miles round-trip via Star Lake.
- Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult towards the end.
- Usage: Hikers, horses, and mountain bikes; vehicles on some sections. Free.
- Best Time for Photography: Lake Tahoe is best photographed from the summit in mid-day to get the deep blues; otherwise there are some spectacular sunrise and sunset opportunities!
- Are Drones Allowed: Yes but be aware it’s on the edge of TVL Class E SFC.
- Trail Info Current: August 4, 2015
- Further Reading: 500 Miles of South Lake Tahoe Hikes
- Go back to Lake Tahoe Hikes map
There are two popular ways to get to the summit of Freel Peak. The first is via the High Meadows Trail and past Star Lake. The second is via Armstrong Pass from Fountain Place Road. You can also access Armstrong Pass via Willow Creek Road (FS Road 50) but the trailhead can be difficult to find from here and the road is rough in spots.
From Star Lake
The trailhead for the High Meadow Trail is at the end of High Meadow Trail Rd, off of Pioneer Trail Rd in South Lake Tahoe. Star Lake is a gorgeous spot to camp at and take a swim to cool off in hot summer months. From here you can summit three of Tahoe’s tallest mountains; Freel Peak (10,881′), Job’s Sister (10,823′), and Job’s Peak (10,633).
For more information on getting to Star Lake, see my Star Lake guide.
From Star Lake, you’ll take the Tahoe Rim Trail southwest for 2.2 miles. You’ll only climb about 500 feet in these two miles, so it’s a nice hike here. You’ll pass through forest with occasional views of Tahoe, then pass through clearings with great views of Job’s Sister and Freel Peak.
From Fountain Place Road
The other trailhead is at the end of Fountain Place Rd, also off of Pioneer Trail Rd but further south closer to Meyers. Take this road all the way to the gate at the end of the road and park there.
I have yet to take this trail, but it seems like the initial climb might be more gradual with less switchbacks. You’ll climb only 1,000′ in the first three miles to Armstrong Pass, and from there have another 3 miles to climb just over 1,000′ along the mountainside.
There are a few places to camp along this portion of the trail and a few water sources, but none like Star Lake!
Freel Peak Summit
Eventually you’ll get to an intersection with a sign directing you to Freel Peak one mile away. The climb from here is steep, about 1,300′ in one mile. The trail here has been recently improved with stone steps and switchbacks so that makes it slightly easier, and there’s nothing technical about it. You’ll have views of Tahoe most of the way behind Trimmer Peak.
The summit has traces of electrical equipment that used to grace the peak, but it’s since been removed. There’s just a very small area on the top with a low stone wall to hide behind on cold, windy days. Sign the trail register and enjoy the views!
If you’ve got some time, take the trail in the saddle between Freel Peak and Job’s Sister to summit the latter peak less than a mile away, and from there you can take another trail to Job’s Peak just over an additional mile.
Tips for the Freel Peak Hike
- It can get windy up at the top. Check the weather before you go. If South Lake Tahoe is seeing sustained winds of 10-15 miles an hour, you can bet it’ll be stronger and gusty up top.