FREEL PEAK (10,881') CLASS 1
Location: 7 miles SSE of Stateline, NV
Drive: Take Highway 89 to a rough, side dirt road marked by a post "051," which is 9.6 miles south from Meyers Junction (junction of U.S. 50 and Highway 89 South) or 1.8 miles north from Picketts Junction (west junction of Highways 88 and 89). Set odometer here. Turn northeast up this dirt road. At 1.1 miles, go left at a junction where the right fork has a locked gate. Ignore the spur left at 1.2 miles. Go left at 1.6 miles, following the main dirt road, at sign "051." Cross a cattle guard at 1.8 miles. Go left, following the main road, at 1.9 miles. Cross a bridge at 2.5 miles. Ignore the side spur road at 2.8 miles, following the signs "051." Come to a multiple junction at 3.2 miles, and go straight on the main dirt road. This spot makes a possible camp site. At 3.4 miles, cross a second bridge. Continue about 200 feet to a junction with a blocked, dirt side road back to the left. Park here where possible.
Climb: Take the dirt side road headed back to the left. Boulders block the route from cars. Continue over a foot bridge, then up a short, steep hill. At a junction near the hill's top, ignore the short spur road to the left. In a fraction of a mile more, come to a large, dirt, road circle and the end of this road. Take the trail ahead, which starts between fallen logs and a stump. A sign is posted. Climb roughly west and north, up the trail, to the left of a small creek, and then cross this creek further up. After less than a mile from the start, come to the signed Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). Route A Alternate comes in from the northwest here, too. A post facing back states "FS RD 51 1." Take the TRT right (east, then north). A post states "Star Lk 5." Contour and climb on the trail up to a col at 9,680 feet elevation. A sign here warns of fragile plant species. The concern is about the rare and endangered plants. Tahoe Draba is named to grow up here. With care, any plants may be avoided. To the right (south), take the trail signed "Freel Peak 1 Hikers Only." This trail heads up or along a small ridge. There are rock steps and switchbacks. The trail ascends up to the large sandy bowl to the northwest of the peak, and then to the summit of Freel Peak.
ROUTE A ALTERNATE
Drive: Take U.S. 50 to Pioneer Trail, which is either 0.4 mile west from the state border on U.S. 50 at its eastern terminus, or 0.7 mile east from Meyers Junction (junction of U.S. 50 and Highway 89 South) to its western terminus, marked by a stoplight. Proceed to Oniedas Street, which is 9 miles from the junction of Pioneer Trail and U.S. 50 to the east, or 1 mile from the junction of Pioneer Trail and U.S. 50 to the west. Turn east and drive 4.1 miles up the paved, one lane road to the USFS gate, signed, "No Trespassing." Park off the road.
Climb: Hike past the gate up the main road, ignoring the short spurs to the sides, and come to a meadow. Hike across to the other side, cross a stream, and gain a good trail on the other side of the stream. Climb steadily up this trail and join the TRT and Route A at Armstrong Pass. Go left (east) and follow the Route A directions.
Drive: Take Pioneer Trail (see Route A Alternate, Drive), but instead drive 3.6 miles west from its eastern terminus with U.S. 50, or 4.7 miles east from its western terminus with U.S. 50 to turn away from the Lake (southeast) on "High Meadows Road." Drive up the paved road to its end after 0.8 mile. Continue on the main dirt road, passing a sign "12N05 Forest Protection Road Not Suited for Passenger Cars," and go about a mile to a gate and park.
Climb: Hike past the gate (apparently hikers are O.K., 1991) and follow the main dirt road up the hill. A USFS map may help to navigate on dirt roads to a high meadow at 9,300 feet elevation, lying under the large sandy bowl on the northwest below the Jobs Sister-Freel saddle. Head cross-country southeast to the low saddle on the main ridge, to turn right (west) and climb up a use trail that completes the final 500 feet to the top.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: A pullout across from road "051" along Highway 89 is usually plowed. Ski Route A to the second bridge, and continue up canyon to the vicinity of Horse Meadow. Ridges to the north lead to the Jobs Sister-Freel saddle at 10,400 feet elevation, where one can climb left to the highpoint. A challenging, long descent can be made down Route B, with a car shuttle required between Routes A and B trailheads. The Route A Alternate Oneidas Street road is not plowed.
TRIP STATS: Route A, 2,400 feet gain, 4 miles one way; Route B, 4,600 feet gain, 8-9 miles one way; winter ski ascent, Route A, 800 feet additional gain, 6 miles one way.
Notes: On Route A Alternate
and Route B, there is posted private land. The status of public
accessibility is said to vary, so if confronted by a land owner,
or not sure, leave and take Route A.
One can make a quicker loop
on Route A by heading down from the summit to the first saddle
to the northeast. There is a fast, sandy use trail from the summit
down through the steep rocks to this point. Another sign warns
of the endangered plants up here. Descend cross-country on sandy
slopes southeast to the vicinity of Horse Meadow. Trails or roads
can be taken downhill right (southwest) once down at the bottom
of the valley, and the main road "051" leads back to
the dirt side road junction, past the second bridge, of the Route
A trailhead. This should take about 1 to 1.5 hours from the top.
It is possible to make a big loop trip hiking all three of the major summits, Freel Peak, Jobs Sister, and Jobs Peak. This can be done several ways. The easiest way seems to be to start at the parking for the TRT and Armstrong Pass (see Freel Peak, Route A, Drive), or near Horse Meadow (see Jobs Sister, Route B, Drive, or Jobs Peak, Route A, Drive), You can climb on trail or use trail from either end of this "grand three." The saddles range down to 9,800 feet elevation between Jobs Peak and Jobs Sister, and down to 10,400 feet elevation between Freel Peak and Jobs Sister. No climbing above class 1-2 need be encountered. From the Freel TRT side road, over all of the peaks and back, this hike entails some 11 miles and 3,700' gain total.
Freel Peak is the highest point of the Tahoe Rim, and is also the highpoint of El Dorado County. An endangered species grows in the area. Ski resort expansion has once been proposed for this area. The 9,680 foot col can be reached via the TRT from a poorly signed, obscure trailhead at Heavenly Valley ski area on the Nevada side, although this will be a long hike!