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Hiking in Northstar

Hiking in Northstar - Martis Valley

Hiking in and around Northstar California is a fun way to spend your days in the mountains. Whether you would like to ride the gondola and hike down the mountain, or hike through the Martis Valley, the views and scenery will be amazing.

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Lift Access Hiking

Our scenic chair lifts lead to trailheads where miles of tracks and loops await hikers of varying abilities.  Pack a lunch and meander through pristine forests to breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra.  Leashed dogs are welcome!  In addition to our trails for hikers and bikers, we have hiking only designated trails:

Ability Level
Distance and Time
Elevation Gain/Loss
Green TrailLess Difficult
.60 miles, 10 minutes
Elevation Gain: 170’
From the top of the Tahoe Zephyr chair lift follow the signs to the Sunset Trail head. The Sunset trail traverses the West ridge of Mt. Pluto offering spectacular views of the Pacific Crest and the back side of Northstar. Along the way you will come across informational vista points that describe The Northstar Habitat Management Plan, Late Seral Forests, Riparian Wildlife Areas and native bird species. This trail is a great introduction to Northstar.
Crossover Tahoe Zephyr to Vista 
Green TrailLess Difficult 
0.80 miles, 20 minutes
Elevation Gain: 191’ 
This hike is a great loop that includes 3 scenic chair lift rides. First ride the Big Springs Gondola, then take the Tahoe Zephyr lift up. From the top follow Tryumph South for .2 miles until you reach the Crossover intersection. From here follow Crossover for .8 miles until you reach the top of Vista and ride the lift down. From the top of Vista: Follow Crossover for .8 miles until you reach the Tryumph intersection. From here follow Tryumph for .2 miles until you reach the top of Tahoe Zephyr.
West Martis Creek Loop  
Green TrailLess Difficult
1.5 miles 
Elevation Gain: 154’
The West Martis Creek Trail starts at the bottom of the Big Springs Gondola. This 1.5 trial is a great introduction hiking trail. This trail gently meanders through the deep forest just outside of the village. This trail is a great option for those short on time. Be sure to pick up a self guided nature hike brochure at the trail head for details about local wildlife and vegetation.
Blue TrailMore Difficult
2.3 miles, 1.0 hours
Elevation Gain: 300'
The Sawmill Lake hiking trail is a 2.3-mile round trip hike. The trailhead is located at the top of the Big Springs Gondola. From here follow the foot path located at the bottom of the Vista Chair lift South East past the Cross Country Center. From here, the trail meanders through the forest towards Sawmill Lake. Be sure to pick up a self guided nature hike brochure at the trail head for details about local wildlife and vegetation.
Blue TrailMore Difficult
2.4 miles, 45 minutes
Elevation Gain: 511'
This trail offers great panoramic views of the Pacific Crest and Martis Valley. The top of Lookout Mountain offers some of the most spectacular views at Northstar. Don’t forget to bring your picnic lunch. From the top of The Tahoe Zephyr Chair Lift follow the trail signs North toward Lookout Mountain.
Tahoe Trail High Traverse 
Blue TrailMore Difficult 
3.0 miles, 1.5 hours 
Gain: 350’ Loss: 450’
From the top of the Vista chairlift follow the Tahoe Multi-Use trail for 1.5 miles to the top of the Rendezvous chairlift. From the top of the Rendezvous chairlift proceed down Altitude adjustment for 1.0 miles. Head north on TryUmph for .25 miles until you have reached the top of the Tahoe Zephyr Express. From here you can access a number of other hiking trails or download on the Tahoe Zephyr Express.
Watson Lake Loop   
Black DiamondMost Difficult
5.8 miles, 6.2 miles
Gain: 957’ Loss:1548’
The hike to Watson Lake offers 360 degree views of the Tahoe Truckee area. Start at the top of the Tahoe Zephyr Chair Lift. From here follow the signs south to Tryumph Road. As you follow Tryumph (2 miles) south towards Watson Lake you will enjoy views of the Backside of Northstar and the Pacific Crest to the West. Once you reach the paved Fiberboard Freeway make a right and follow the Fiberboard Freeway 200 feet. Then take your first left onto the Tahoe Rim Trail. From here follow the Tahoe Rim trail for approximately 1/3 mile. Veer right and stay on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Follow the trail for another 1/3 mile until you reach Watson Lake. To Return: Option 1, follow the above directions in reverse. Option 2: This return option is longer and bit more strenuous. To return, retrace your steps back top the intersection of Tryumph and the Fiberboard Freeway. From here continue East on the Fiberboard Freeway for ¼ mile. Make your first left on Pluto. Follow Pluto for 1/3 of a mile and make your first right on Mountain View. Follow Mountain View for 1 mile to the top of the Rendezvous Chair lift. From here follow Altitude Adjustment to Tryumph to return to the top of the Tahoe Zephyr Chair Lift.

View Northstar Hiking Trail Map

Hiking Around Northstar

Northstar Hiking Map
In addition to the variety of trails located on the mountain, guests visiting the resort can also take advantage of the Tompkins Memorial Trails. This trail system not only runs through the resort, but connects in to trails that travel through the Martis Valley.

Martis Valley trails cover flat meadows and gentle hills and offer a diversity of nature-viewing opportunities. Meadows near the willow-lined Martis Creek sport green grass in the spring and wildflowers in the summer. Sagebrush and bitterbrush take over where the water doesn’t reach.

Adobe PDF View Hiking Trails around Northstar  (1 MB)

Green TrailBlue TrailBlack DiamondTrail symbols describe the general degree of challenge of trails only within this resort. Trail designations do not apply to terrain features that may exist on a trail. Hiking terrain is designated by green circle, blue square or black diamond. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with all instructions and warnings to follow the "Hiker's Responsibility Code".


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