Of the West Shore backcountry lineup, Hidden Peak seems to attract less attention than it’s neighbors, most notably Jake’s Peak. That’s great for the folks skiing Hidden Peak, as the quality of the glade skiing and snow conditions is similar, and there’s some billy-goating terrain to be had up high if you're looking for it. One potential deterrent may be that the descent line is interrupted by a large bench two-thirds of the way up at around 8,200 feet. This makes for a more segmented descent compared to the adjacent peaks and glade shots that feel shorter.
Rising above DL Bliss State Park, Hidden Peak also goes by the name of Bliss Peak. As the more common name suggests, the summit is slightly hidden from view because of the large bench that splits Hidden Peak into two sections. Hidden's lower slopes consist of a steep, 1,500-foot climb through glades of red fir, lodgepole and western white pine. There are some fine short and sweet glade shots in this lower section. Once you reach the bench, Hidden's summit comes into view. This is a great place for a snack and to mind-ski your way through the cliff section below the summit. The upper section is a thousand foot climb to the summit and is most easily navigated to the right of the cliff band up the obvious gradual slopes. Up high you'll find great Lake Tahoe views and the ubiquitous mountain hemlock found near treeline.
For the descent, ski back through the glades taken on the skin up. Alternately, there are some fun variations with steeper terrain features beneath and directly to skier's left of the cliff band. These lead slightly further south and below the bench relative to where you first skinned up (you may have to skin or hike a short distance to reconnect with where you first gained the bench on the way up to get the most out of your turns). If you are looking for expert terrain, there are some interesting descent possibilities to pick your way through if you head south from the summit and along the ridge. Just make sure you know your descent plan and where you’re heading.
Similar to the glades of Rubicon, Hidden Peak is a safer option for storm days. The lower section is sheltered from storm winds.
The most direct parking for Hidden Peak is located in a pullout on the east side of Highway 89 opposite an erosion barrier wall, 0.75 miles north of the entrance road to DL Bliss State Park. To begin your ascent, walk south and across the highway near the end of the erosion barrier wall. The ascent begins in the woods near a grove of incense cedars.
Make sure to check Sierra Avalanche Center's daily winter avalanche bulletin to help inform safe backcountry decision making before venturing out: www.sierraavalanchecenter.org.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.