Cowboy Hat Hill

Copyright © 2016 Jared Manninen

Cowboy Hat Hill is found on few maps. It’s a short, but relatively steep climb that offers amazing views of the east face of Desolation Wilderness, Mount Tallac, Angora Peak and Ridge, Twin Peaks, and a glimpse of Lake Tahoe. At the viewpoint there are granite boulders on which to climb, as well as beautiful Sugar Pine trees to photograph.

Copyright © 2015 Jared Manninen

Sugar Pine Tree next to granite monolith at Cowboy Hat Hill. Photo taken by Jared Manninen on January 21, 2015.

Trail Data (approximations):

  • Total Mileage: 1 miles
  • Total Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Highest Point: 6,588 feet
  • Trail: Hard-packed sand


From HWY 50 in Meyers, travel south on Apache Drive, take a right on Cheyenne Drive, left on Mulberry Drive, and a right on Pinewood Drive. Park near the Forest Service gate.


From the Forest Service gate, follow the paved road .10 miles to a South Tahoe Public Utilities District water tank, then continue up the trail. Just shy of half mile you’ll arrive at Cowboy Hat Hill. For more adventure (i.e. elevation gain, miles, and views), go further up the trail. Please note there are other connector trails at the base of Cowboy Hat Hill that link to the main trail and are fun to hike, but they originate on other streets. Use the water tank and paved road leading up to it as a landmark to identify your way back to the gate. The Cowboy Hat Hill trail is appropriate for snowshoeing in the winter, but probably too technical to safely cross-country ski on. This trail can be littered with ice patches in early and late winter due to it being on the north side of the mountain range, so carry mirco-spikes/foot traction for safe travel.

Copyright © 2015 Jared Manninen

Mount Tallac beyond a Sugar Pine Cone branch and cone. Photo taken by Jared Manninen on January 21, 2015.


  • Parking at the gate is OK, but don’t block the gate
  • Dogs are allowed, but keep them on leash and pick up after them
  • Adhere to all Leave No Trace principles
  • There are few trail signs and markers on public lands in the Tahoe region, so unless there are tracks to follow, the correct route may be difficult to identify–when in doubt, turn back
  • Be prepared for inclement weather (icy conditions in early and late winter) and carry plenty of warm clothes, food, and water
  • Leave an itinerary of your plans with someone who will call emergency services if you do not return by your prescribed time

Click on the above map to enlarge it for better viewing and printing. This map is only for reference and shows the general route to Cowboy Hat Hill. Always carry a traditional topographic map and compass when traveling in the backcountry.

Below is a Google Map to assist you in finding the parking area for accessing Cowboy Hat Hill.