Kingsbury to Kingsbury With a Van Sickle Thrown In

View from the Brisack viewpoint. | Tim Hauserman

Until seven years ago, Tahoe Rim Trail had a big gap in the middle of its 165-mile loop around Lake Tahoe. There was a Kingsbury North Trailhead and a Kingsbury South Trailhead, with 3.5 miles of walking on steep residential streets between them.

Then due to monumental trail-building efforts, a trail connection was made in 2011 between the two trailheads, as well as a loop trail on the north side of Kingsbury; the following year Van Sickle Trail headed off the new trail to the core of South Lake Tahoe. Now long-distance-thru hikers don’t need to leave the trail. Equally as important, folks on the South Shore have an awesome network of trail options close by that are more lightly used than the busy trails on Tahoe’s West Shore.

Just about the time you are wondering why you are hiking this trail, a jaw-dropping view of all of Lake Tahoe unfolds below you.

Kingsbury North Trailhead is accessed on North Benjamin Road off Kingsbury Grade Highway 207. North Benjamin becomes Andria Drive until you reach the trailhead. A bathroom structure with water is almost complete at the Kingsbury North Trailhead.

Check out the trail map for the hike.

Read more about hiking at Van Sickle State Park.

The hike begins with a gentle half-mile climb on a Tahoe Rim Trail access trail to the trail itself. From there a left turn takes you on a pleasant, mostly downhill 2.5-mile venture through a scattered forest and humongous granite boulders to the Kingsbury Grade road crossing. There is an off-shoot trail to Castle Rock (about 2.7 miles roundtrip), and in the midst of the biggest boulders, a quick side trail to the Grubb viewpoint. There a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe awaits with prime flat boulders to enjoy it from. It’s named after Clay Grubb, who was one of the key trail builders for this section.

Granite boulders are a highlight of this hike. | Tim Hauserman

Daggett Loop Trail
Just before reaching Kingsbury Grade, the trail meets Dagget Loop. The 3.4-mile North Dagget Summit Connector trail parallels Kingsbury Grade east, crosses over North Benjamin Road, then loops back to the Kingsbury North Trailhead. This trail crosses over to the Carson Valley side of the ridge before a substantial climb north brings you to a lakeview vista spur trail and then on to Kingsbury North Trailhead. The total 6.7-mile loop allows you to do a one-car hike from Kingsbury North.

View from the Grubb viewpoint. | Tim Hauserman

Heading downhill
For those continuing southbound, the Tahoe Rim Trail drops down steeply to Kingsbury Grade. Cross carefully and swiftly on this busy, windy road to a staircase up to Tahoe Rim Trail on the opposite side. Now the trail climbs gently, before joining the dirt Edgewood Creek Road, for about a half mile before crossing Edgewood Creek. To you, this might look like a pleasant stream providing a bit of moisture in the dry Carson Range. To the southbound-thru hiker, however, this is the pot of gold; it’s the first on-trail water source for 26 miles since Marlette Peak Campground.

Perhaps a rest next to the water is in order, because you are about to start climbing. It’s a steady 500-foot climb to the Brisack viewpoint, named after another trail builder, Phil Brisack, and another 200 feet of ascent to the top of the ridge and the Van Sickle Trail junction. Fortunately, those Tahoe Rim Trail trail builders were trying to reduce how much whining we do by switch-backing the heck out of the route, making the grade as easy as possible.

Van Sickle Trail
Van Sickle Trail provides an interesting option. It’s a 3.3-mile jaunt from the Tahoe Rim Trail junction to Van Sickle Bi-State Park, which is just a stone’s throw from the casino core. The trail begins with a 1-mile descent through a thick forest. Just about the time you are wondering why you are hiking this trail, a jaw-dropping view of all of Lake Tahoe unfolds below you.

The trail crosses the Gondola Fire burn zone, several creeks and the Van Sickle Waterfall while you continue to enjoy those awesome Tahoe views. Arriving at Van Sickle Bi-State Park is a bit bizarre considering it is so close to the center of South Lake’s action. There are supermarkets, restaurants, theaters and anything else you might need within a few 100 yards of the trailhead.

Back on the Tahoe Rim Trail, it soon enters Heavenly Mountain Resort grounds, passing under several chairlifts and traversing a few runs. It then meets an access trail, which takes you to the Kingsbury South Trailhead beneath Stagecoach chairlift.

Here, if you left a second car, you are done for the day. Or you could do what we did: bypass the 7-mile hike back and call a driving service to get back to our car. | tahoerimtrail.org


 

THE TRAILS
Open to hiking, mountain biking & horseback riding

Kingsbury North Trailhead to Daggett Loop
6.7 miles roundtrip | Moderate

Kingsbury North Trail to Kingsbury South Trailhead
7 miles one way (14 mile roundtrip) | Moderate

Kingsbury North Trail to Van Sickle State Park
8.9 miles on way | Moderate