At 10,776 feet, the Mount Rose summit dominates the skyline of northern Lake Tahoe, along with the Reno metro area, as the tallest peak along the northern portion of the lake and the third tallest in the Tahoe Basin. Nevada Highway 431 is the highest pass in the Sierra that remains open year round, and the pass between Mount Rose and Tahoe Meadows is a popular area for camping, hiking and winter activities. As such, not only is the summit of Mount Rose prominent over much of the surrounding area, but it is also an accessible and very popular among hikers and snowshoers during the snowy months.
With just under 2,000 feet of elevation gain, the majority of which comes in the second half of the 5-mile trail to the peak, the route to the summit passes several distinct areas. The first is a pine forest on the initial gradual ascent. This route eventually opens up to views of the peak standing above the far end of a meadow filled with manzanita before it reaches a cascading year-round waterfall at about the halfway point of the hike. The waterfall in itself makes a great destination for those not up for powering their way to the summit, and it sits at the fork to several other trails crossing their way through the northern Tahoe mountains, including the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail and the Tamarack Peak Loop Trail.
From the waterfall, the serious uphill begins. After skirting the meadow the trail begins the climb, becoming progressively more steep as it approaches the peak. A series of switchbacks leads to the final push above the tree line and to the initial views of Lake Tahoe shining like an emerald to the southwest.
Loose rocks mark the last portion of the hike, but the heavy volume of hikers has left a pretty stable trail through them. It's pretty common to find yourself sharing the windy peak with at least a couple others, though a slightly lower false summit sits just a few hundred feet further on the path and typically gets ignored by the folks at the top.
Weather patterns cause this area to be hit with much less snow than most other parts of Tahoe, making the trail doable to those with proper winter gear and abilities.
The trailhead parking area is typically maintained year round and has a bathroom and trash cans. Be aware that the parking area can also fill up during weekends, when hikers flock to the different trails in the area.