The Lake Tahoe Basin which straddles the California and Nevada state lines was formed by geologic block faulting about 2 to 3 million years ago. A geologic block fault is a fracture in the Earth's crust causing blocks of land to move up or down. Uplifted blocks created the Carson Range to the east of Freel Peak, and the Sierra Nevada to the west. Down-dropped blocks created the Lake Tahoe Basin in between. Some of the highest peaks of the Lake Tahoe Basin that formed during this process are Freel Peak at 10,891 ft (3,320 m), Monument Peak at 10,067 ft (3,068 m) which is the top of Heavenly Ski Resort, Pyramid Peak at 9,983 ft (3,043 m) located in the Desolation Wilderness, and Mt. Tallac at 9,735 ft (2,967 m).
Freel Peak is a great day hike or overnight trip, and is also a popular back country ski or snowboard day trip for the experienced winter explorer. There are a number of ways to hike up the peak, but the quickest and most direct route is from the south side and starts from USFS Road 051 at Horse Meadow, which is located just under a mile south of Luther Pass on Highway 89. This is the most direct and shortest route with the least amount of elevation gain. The route is a very simple Class I hike through widely dispersed pines until you start the final ascent.
Since Freel Peak is covered in sand above tree line, any approach you take becomes a slog to get to the top. Please stay on the designated trails so you do not harm the rare and delicate Tahoe Draba which lives on the slopes of Freel Peak.
Freel Peak is always accessible, but winter explorers should check avalanche conditions before embarking on a back country ski or board at http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/ Hiking during the spring, summer and fall is perfect. Be prepared to enjoy incredible views of Lake Tahoe, as well as Hope Valley and the Carson Valley - so don't forget the camera. And, as always check weather conditions and bring plenty of water and provisions. Have fun!
Pet Friendly Notes
Dogs are allowed, and please pick up or bury canine waste. Keep your dog close by when encountering other people, and remember to bring enough water for you and your pet!