Adams Peak Trailhead

Revised April 2005 - please send updates to the webmaster

home See Driving Directions > Northern Sierra for context and how to get here.
south last in Northern Sierra: Curry Village Yosemite Valley Curry Village Area Trailheads
south next in Northern Sierra: Sierra Buttes Trailheads (Sierra City, Packer Lake, PCT)
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Adams Peak is north of Hwy 80 and just west of Hwy 395. More generally it is NW of Reno and more specifically it is north of Hwy 70 between Hwy 49 and Hwy 395. The summit register indicates it has been climbed from Hwy 395 - if you know the details, please contact me! This web page describes a winter climb up the Spring Creek route starting at or near Frenchman Lake. Several maps showing related waypoints are below (highways and trails).


Adams Peak Highways:

There are two general approaches to the area: If you prefer freeway driving you should go to Reno on I-80, take Hwy 395 north to Hwy 70, then turn west toward Chilcoot and the trailhead. If you prefer two-lane driving you should take Hwy 89 north from Truckee to Sierraville (where I can recommend Los Dos Hermanos restaurant, open until 8pm all year), then go east and north on Hwy 49 to Vinton, then turn east on Hwy 70 toward Chilcoot and the trailhead. Which route is faster depends on traffic and your driving habits! I-80 and Hwy 395 are faster 4-lane, but slightly longer than Hwy 89 and Hwy 49.


Adams Peak Trails:

However you get yourself to Hwy 70, turn north on Frenchman Lake Road at Chilcoot (waypoint FLRJ70), where there is a sign pointing to the Frenchman Lake Recreation Area. Here is a map of both driving options, which are described below:

Via Spring Creek Campground, GPS route ADAMS FRENCHMAN LAKE:
If you want to camp in a campground, follow the red line up Little Last Chance Creek to Frenchman Lake (past waypoint FLRJFS to waypoint FRENCH) and turn off the main road to cross the Frenchman Dam (the purple line). Just past the boat ramp (which motorboats were using in April) is the Spring Creek Campground (waypoint SPRCMP) which opens early. In mid-winter you may not be able to drive this far. By April you should be able to drive much further. From the campground, go northeast to waypoint SPRCK1 and turn right on a dirt road marked for Crystal and Adams Peaks. Go southeast to waypoint SPRCK2 and turn left away from the meadow on the main road. This will take you to a multi-road intersection at waypoint SPRJCT: signs here point to Adams and Crystal in different directions, and also to the Chilcoot Campground by way of waypoint FLRJFS (the better road described in the next paragraph).

Shorter Better Road, GPS route ADAMS SPRING CREEK:
If you want to camp in the forest, or if you're just driving to the trailhead, it is shorter to bypass the campground (and the dirt road is much better). Leave Frenchman Lake Road (at waypoint FLRJFS) by turning right (north) on Forest Service Rd 24N44. This good dirt road may not have a sign, but the turnoff is just before you get to the Chilcoot Campground, and on the opposite side of the road. Follow this road (the blue line) north to a multi-road intersection at waypoint SPRJCT: signs here point to Adams and Crystal in different directions, and also to the Chilcoot Campground by way of waypoint FLRJFS (the road you just came up).

The Final Approach:
However you get to waypoint SPRJCT, that's about as far as you want to take regular passenger cars. If you have high clearance you can drive some further or much further, depending on snow. Follow the sign for Adams, which goes along Spring Creek NNE to waypoint SPRCK4. At or near this corner we found the road blocked by snow in April, but there were places to park. There are no gates so how far you can drive is determined by the snow level. Having done the south shoulder previously, I can assure you the forest is more open and the slopes are more gentle going to the north ridge of Adams. Follow the dirt roads along waypoints SPRCK5-SPRCK9, or just follow a compass bearing if there's lots of snow.


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