Place Name: Alpine County
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 10,024 Feet
Prominence: 2,144 Feet
Elevation Gain: 1,728 Feet
Lists: Tahoe-Ogul, Western States Climbers List
Dominating Peak With 360-Degree Views
Hawkins Peak sits right in the middle of it all on Carson Pass, giving unmatched 360-degree views.
- Short hike
- Amazing views
- Fun scramble at the top
- Radio equipment on top
- Road walk
- Nothing else, this is a great hike
Hawkins Peak is an imposing mountain as you drive over Carson Pass along Highway 88. When you first spot the mountain east of Red Lake, you immediately want to know which mountain it is.
I’ve driven over Carson Pass hundreds of times in my life and this is the one peak that has always stuck out to me. Up until a few years ago, I had always assumed this peak was The Nipple. I finally decided it was time to climb Hawkins and enjoy the amazing views it is known for.
We set out for a family hike and started by driving Burnside Lake Rd. This road is located just across from the Highway 89 turnoff to Lake Tahoe. We proceeded up the 2WD dirt road about 4.5 miles. At this spot, we turned left and continued up a short way on Hawkins Peak Rd. where there is a locked gate. The road is bumpy and has a lot of rocks, however, I never needed to use 4WD.
We parked near the gate, even though there is a road that loops around it. I did not inspect this spur road to see if my Tacoma could handle it, but later in the day, we did see a Toyota 4-Runner past the gate on the upper road. The upper road is in even better shape than Burnside Lake Rd. with the exception of a couple deep snow drifts. If there is no snow present, any car could drive within a 1/2 mile of this peak.
Hiking to Hawkins Peak is easy. It’s about a 1.5-mile walk following the road. From here, you will cut cross country through knee high brush, most of which is avoidable. It was slow going with the kids, but we kept forging ahead and before long we were climbing the rocky summit block.
There was some light class 2 in this section which made it fun. My son and topped out on the summit to some of the most amazing views in the region.
Many peaks were visible along Highway 88, Ebbett’s Pass, Sonora Pass, Carson Range, Desolation Wilderness, and Sweetwater Mountains. Many Great Basin Peaks in Nevada can be observed. If not for the ugly radio tower, I would give this peak a 5-star summit view rating.
If you are in the Carson Pass area and want to get away from some of the crowds that the main trails receive. Burnside Lake is close by and offers camping. Pickett’s Peak lies a couple miles away and can make for a great loop hike if adding a second summit is desired. This is a fantastic hike and I hope you check it out!