Now is the perfect time to climb Nevada County’s highest peak, Mt. Lola (elevation 9143'.) Snow blocked access to the higher elevations much of this summer but the upper reaches of the Mount Lola Trail are melted out and in fabulous condition now.
The hike is steep, climbing 2,600 feet over 5.3 miles. You’ll be rewarded at the half-way point by beautiful Cold Stream Meadow (not to be confused with Coldstream Canyon behind Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee.) The Land Trust, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, acquired the 1174-acre Cold Stream Meadow in 2010. Peak wildflower time in this meadow is behind us, although you will still find paintbrush and lupine and the meadow is beautifully golden now.
From Cold Stream Meadow, the trail climbs steeply to the summit and you’ll admire the krummholz, stunted and windblown trees, and spectacular views. A half mile short of the summit, walk out to a promontory for a great view of Independence Lake in the canyon to the South. The summit is treeless and vast, so enjoy the 360 degree views including White Rock Lake, Sierra Buttes, Stampede Reservoir, and Castle Peak. Be sure to sign the register in the metal box in the rock ring. And if you walk along the ridge only a mile north of Mount Lola, you’ll knock off Sierra County’s highest peak, an unnamed subsidiary of Mount Lola.
To reach the trailhead: Take Highway 89 North of Truckee 17 miles to the Jackson Meadows Road and turn left. After 1.5 miles, make a left for Independence Lake, and in another .5 miles, take a right at the first and only intersection. This is historic Henness Pass Road, although it’s signed as “Sierra County Route 301.” Follow Henness Pass for 3.2 miles and pull into the Mount Lola trailhead parking lot on your left, marked by a sign used too often for target practice. You won’t have cell service after you leave Truckee, so consult your map in advance.