Location: Emerald Bay – Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1 – 1.5 hours
Elevation Change: 1,822′ – from 6,837′ to 8,659′
Recomended Map: Emerald Bay, California & Rockbound Valley, California
Map of General Route:
Maggies has two summits, split by the summer Bayview Trail. This is the route out to the Janine Ridge and Dick’s Peak, as well to the saddle in-between Maggies’ two peaklets. Parking at Bayview Trailhead on hwy 89 is just above the south side of Emerald Bay. You do not need a Sno-Park Permit, and we have never heard of any parking issues here. This is where tourists park in the winter to check out Emerald Bay.
Maggies isn’t a popular ski tour, because of a few reasons. The terrain you climb from Bayview Trailhead is a bit tightly treed for good skiing. The peak doesn’t look that impressive from the road either (until you realize the bigger picture from the avy gate). And with Jake’s Peak or Mt. Tallac on either side, Maggies gets ignored for good reason. If you go with a local who really knows Maggies, you’ll be sold. Like Bliss Peak, the few small zones that are good for skiing, are really good. The views are awesome from the south summit, and will get you psyched to go explore the Janine’s Ridge and Tallac’s North Trees.
The cruise up to either of Maggie’s Peaks is pretty easy, with just a few switchbacks below the saddle. Maggies is a heavy snow zone, and the steeper terrain should be avoided with any avalanche concerns. Powder snow lasts awhile however, with the mature trees blocking the sun from crusting things over.
The north and east facing trees above Granite Lake provide excellent steep skiing on South Maggies, with wide spacing and nice views. A few extreme lines drop down the south side. Skiing beneath Granite Lake is usually more of the survival variety due to tight trees and sketchy snow covered road you skinned up and are likely to follow back down. Avoid the steep terrain shown with XX’s on our map! These are the cliffs above hwy 89 at Emerald Bay.
There is also great skiing on the north peaklet of Maggies. Moderate SW facing terrain flows back to Granite Lake from here, but won’t stay cold powder for long. Be wary of the enticing, steep, north facing gully that draws you in near the summit. Snow would pile up very deep if it slid, and often does just from skier slough. You can ski around it, or take your chances. Regardless of which way you descend the north side of this north peaklet, be sure to avoid the steep terrain and cliffs above hwy 89 and Emerald Bay. Careful route finding can lead you down the cool looking benches you saw from the road. Pop out near the Eagle Falls Trailhead for a car shuttle, or walk back up the road. The walk is about a mile and 500’ climb. There is no shoulder on the highway, so make it quick.
Steep cliffs drop straight down from the summit on the south side. This side of Maggies sees a few ski descents every winter, but you’ll want to view it from the Cascade Drainage or Tallac’s North Trees beforehand. The Dogleg Couloir on the South Side of Maggies South Peaklet is the only one I’ve done, and it can be bare rock in the choke. You wouldn’t want to tumble down on hard snow or in an avalanche back there either. Knowing where to drop it isn’t obvious either. Even more extreme terrain can be covered enough to drop in a big winter to skiers right of the Dog Leg Chute. Haven’t done them and probably won’t. It’s hard to find a vantage point to see snow coverage on the south side of South Maggie’s without touring up the Cascade Lake drainage. Try that sometime by parking at Bayview Trailhead and just staying low to traverse south and low around Maggie’s. There is great terrain for everyone up there below the ridge connecting Mt. Tallac and the Janine Ridge (aka Kalmia). Furthermore touring around Maggies on the south side is how you access the steep north trees of Mt. Tallac. Go there for powder and don’t bother trying to summit, it’s too far away.