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Bear Claw

Location: Near Incline Village, Above Sand Harbor State Park

Vertical: about 2000′

Elevation Profile:

Bear Claw Elevation Profile

Map of General Route:

Bear Claw Topo Map

This is a small area of terrain to ski, but the view is absolutely the most incredible thing you will ever experience. If you have ridden your mountain bike on the Flume Trail above Incline Village, NV then you know what I’m talking about. The spot where you have to get off your bike to climb over some rocks in a steep landslide area is your ski descent! There is no named peak, but there is a very cool small pyramid shaped rock at the top that serves as an excellent and sketchy perch for one. The slopes face West and NW, so you’ll need to ski the bear claw chute soon after some big snowfall dumps. You can see the “claw” when you look at this area from across the lake, but there really is only one center chute that makes for a good ski descent. I have skied the more north facing trees just adjacent and to the north as well. Although the main Bear Claw Chute generally faces West, there is a northern tilt to skiers left that may still be powder a day or two after it snows. In very warm weather, forget about going here. Park at the Sand Harbor State Parking lot near the building and pay a few bucks to avoid getting a ticket. You can also try to park on the road just south at a Tahoe Overlook, but your obviously not supposed to do that. I have heard of people getting tickets for parking on hwy 28.

If you ski the Bear Claw, please reply to this guidebook post with a picture or two!





  1. Daniel

    Not a picture of the chute, but a shot of where we decided to descend: a step about 150′ shy of the top. Getting to the true top looked like a pain requiring me to shoulder my skis, and getting into the chute from the top looked steep and rocky. We parked at Sand Harbor and tried to follow the uphill side of the road until we found the main ascent gully, This was slow going. I recommend hoofing it on the lake walk along the road until you hit the scenic turn out then run across the street.

  2. Mike

    for starters, sorry about my terrible skin track drawn on this map. I did this 20 years ago. I’ve skied it a few times and always just skinned up the steep west face. Most people skin left just above the road for 5 minutes to a more friendly northwest facing treed slope that leads you to the summit. This week I skinned up the dumb steep side again with ski crampons for old time sake and skied on the North and Northwest slopes for a few runs.

    And some ass cop gave us a $300 ticket for parking our tiny car 20′ from the highway! We didn’t realize the Sand Harbor parking lot was open, because the first entrance was blocked. I forgot there were two entrances. What an abuse of power. Or it could have been our old car with WA license plates. There were a few bling SUV cars with no tickets on the windshield. Anyway, the no parking is for summer crowds. CHP and local police totally abuse their ticket writing power in the winter for the few skiers trying to access our public lands. There is no reason why a warning can’t be issued. It’s not like Sand Harbor has a sign that says OPEN FOR PARKING in the winter at the highway. There is no place to park to ski in the entire Lake Tahoe Basin that is legal. Thanks a lot TRPA.

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