The following is an overview of the essential Lovers Leap
Lovers Leap is located off Highway 50 in the
town of Strawberry, about 20 miles west of Lake Tahoe (view
map). From Highway 50, pull into the east end of the Strawberry
Lodge Parking lot. The road bends left, continues another 500 feet
and then goes over a bridge that crosses the American River. Take
a left immediately after the bridge and continue up a narrow road
for 0.2 miles to the campground. All climbs at Lover's Leap are
accessed from the trailhead 50 feet south of the campground bathrooms.
If campground parking is full, park just west of the Strawberry
Lodge in a large pullout on the south side of Highway 50. From here
it is a 10-minute walk to the campground and trailhead.
San Francisco: 3.5 hours, 170 miles
Sacramento: 2 hours, 85 miles
South Lake Tahoe: 30 minutes, 20 miles
Truckee: 1.5 hours, 65 miles
Bishop: 4 hours, 200 miles
Lovers Leap has a similar climate to Yosemite Valley with
ideal climbing conditions in the spring and fall. Below is a summary
of the climbing seasons. Note that the beginning and end of the
climbing season is decided by fierceness of the winter. In lean
years, you can climb from April to December. In heavy years, you
can climb June to October. Be sure to check the SuperTopo web site
to see if it has been a heavy or light snow year before planning
MayJune: This is a prime time to visit Lovers
Leap because of the long days and great climbing temperatures in
the 60s and 70s. Depending on the snow year, the walls are generally
clear of snow and dry by the end of April. Be prepared for some
wet cracks and the occasional late-season storms. Expect crowds.
JulyAugust: While the skies are usually clear, the
day temperatures are consistently in the 80s and 90s making it too
warm to climb in the sun, but tolerable in the shade. Bring plenty
of water and wake up early (most routes go into the sun after noon),
climb for a few hours, then head for the American River.
SeptemberOctober: Fall is a great time to visit Lovers
Leap. Temperatures are perfect for climbing and generally stay in
the 60s and 70s. There are rarely any storms and the rock is dry.
In early September, the occasional heat wave can roll through and
in late October the temperatures can be freezing at night. Expect
November: The weather is uncertain during this time. The
first winter storm usually hits in the first two weeks of November
which makes most of the routes too wet to climb for the rest of
the winter. However, during a dry year the climbing conditions can
be great with temperatures in the 50s and 60s with few crowds. Even
during a dry November, you will need to bring warm clothing as night
temperatures are often below freezing.
DecemberMarch: Due to the bleak climbing conditions,
nobody visits Lovers Leap in the winter. Snow covers the base
and summits of most cliffs, temperatures are often freezing and
the rock is wet. During cold years ice forms on the right side of
the East Wall making for the rare California multi-pitch ice climb.
April: Wet rock and unstable weather usually make April
a terrible time to climb at Lovers Leap. However, in an extremely
dry year April can have great weather and be free of crowds.
Bridges weatherfive day forecast for the closest town
to The Leap.
The Lovers Leap campground is deluxe. It may not be as historic
as Yosemites Camp 4, but it blows it away in terms of quality.
Its $10, minutes from the climbing and has all the necessities:
picnic tables, pit-toilets, privacy, running water, and a bar within
a 5-minute walk. There are about 30 campsites available that each
have room for 2-4 tents. Each campsite comes with just one designated
parking spotpark additional cars on Highway 50. There is a
14-day limit on camping and you must carry out all your trash (dispose
of trash at the Strawberry Lodge for $5 per bag or go to the free
dumpster a few miles west on Highway 50 at the Pyramid Creek/Horsetail
Falls trailhead). Each site has its own campfire ring and you should
bring your own wood as the Forest Service discourages collecting
wood around the campsites. Be low-key when camping:
dispose of trash, camp only in designated spots, don't create new
camp sites, and make sure all fires are completely extinguished.
If the campground is full, there is free camping about 0.5 miles west on the Strawberry Creek Road. Go to this intersection then drive south for at least a half mile. There are no designated camp sites but you can park anywhere. You need a permit to have a camp fire. More free camping on the Phantom
Spires access road, 10 minutes west on Highway 50. Drive west and
turn right on Wrights Lake Road. Go about 2 miles and turn left
down a logging road (your car will need medium clearance).You can
also camp just about anywhere else on Wright's Lake Road.
Lodge and Motels
Lodge is just a ten-minute walk from the campground/trailhead
and offers rooms at $45-155. There are a variety of cheap motes
in South Lake Tahoe.You can also stay in one of Chris McNamara's Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals in South Lake Tahoe (about 25 minutes from Lover's Leap).
The Strawberry Lodge, located on Highway 50 just a five-minute
walk from Lover's Leap campground, offers good American food at
moderate prices and has a bar.The bar serves great local and semi-local
brews and is the spot of choice to talk about all the climbs you
onsighted that day, how you found all the ratings too easy, and
how that 5.12 you climbed next to looked pretty doable.
In Pollock Pines, a town located 30 minutes west of the Leap on
US 50, there is a decent coffee shop called Pony Espresso. A favorite
Mexican restaurant for locals and travelers alike is Los Hermanos
(beware that it's crowded on weekends). Both Pony Espresso and Los
Hermanos are off the Sly Park Rd. exit in Pollock Pines.
For other food options you will need to travel to South Lake Tahoe.
Here are some of South Tahoes better restaurants: Lake
Tahoe Pizza (1168 Highway 50; 530-544-1919) has some of the
best pizza in Lake Tahoe with a salad bar. Rude Brothers has
good coffee, bagels, and moderate prices. Izzies Burger Spa
(2591 Lake Tahoe Boulevard; 530-544-5030) offers great burgers and
a salad bar. For great Mexican food head to The Cantina (Highway
89 and 10th Street; 530 544 1233). Sprouts has great natural
food, and a friendly staff (3123 Harrison Avenue; 530-541 6969).
Ernies is the classic greasy spoon and serves good
breakfast (1146 Emerald Bay Road; 530-541-2161). If you are driving
south from The Leap there are a number of restaurants in Placerville,
including In-N-Out Burger.
If you are craving good franchised coffee, there are Starbucks
both in Placerville and west of Raleys on Highway 50.
Buy your food either in Placerville, Palace Pines or South Lake
Tahoe, as there are no major grocery stores near Lovers Leap.
The Strawberry Market, located across from Strawberry Lodge
has essential items. The next
closest spot is Liras Supermarket (2977 Highway 50; 530-577-5399)
located 10 minutes before South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. Drive
another 10 minutes and you reach Raleys Supermarket,
located at the junction of 89 and 50 in South Lake Tahoe, which
offers the best prices in the area. If driving from the Bay Area,
Safeway is located on the left just before Placerville, about
45 minute from Lovers Leap. There is a Safeway even
closer to The Leap in Pollock Pines off Sly Park Rd.
Rattlesnakes and squirrels are everywhere and don't
seem to mind the presence of climbers. The squirrels are especially
bad at the East Wall and wait in the brush until you are one pitch
up; then strike. They are seasoned pros at chewing into backpacks
and devouring anything edible (and inedible things as well). Defend
yourself against squirrel raids by either hanging your pack at least
6 feet up on the wall or by bringing a squirrel-proof Tupperware
container. Rattlesnakes are particularly active in the spring and
seem to enjoy hanging out on approach and descent trails. Watch
Gear and Climbing Guides
Lover's Leap Guides (530-318-2939)
is a guide service run by some of the most experienced Lover's Leap
climbers. They offer classes in beginning to advanced climbing,
learning to lead, summiting all the Phantom Spires and adaptive
Skills International and Sierra
Mountain Guides also offer group trips and private guiding to
climbs at Lover's Leap and the rest of the Tahoe area. The closest selection of gear
and climbing beta is at Sports Ltd.
When you need a rest day or just want to mix things up, head to
South Lake Tahoe for two world-class mountain bike trails: The
Flume Trail and Mister Toads Wild Ride. During the summer
you can also buy lift tickets and ride at many of the ski resorts.
There are also a number of hiking trails not to mention all the
Lake Tahoe activities: kayaking, water skiing, sitting on the beach,
etc. For guidebooks and recommendations from knowledgeable locals,
visit South Lake Tahoes best outdoor sports shop Sports
Ltd. (Crescent V Shopping Center, 4008 Lake Tahoe Boulevard;
530-542-4000) All the nightlife is at either one of South Lake Tahoes
two major casinos: Harrahs or Harveys.
There are over ten quality cragging areas within a half-hour drive
of Lovers Leap. These areas are great if Lovers Leap
is too cold, too hot or you just want to satisfy your bouldering
or sport climbing urge.
Phantom Spires: When Lovers Leap is just a bit too
cold, the Phantom Spires are often perfect. The three 100- to 200-foot-tall
spires offer a mixture of knobby face climbs and quality cracks
on high quality granite. The climbing season is from April to November.
(10 minutes from Lovers Leap.)
Sugarloaf: Aside from the rare cold year, Sugarloaf is a
year-round climbing destination with quality multi-pitch sport and
trad climbs. The approach is short and the rock quality is good.
It is climbable in the summer, but often very hot. (20 minutes from
The Pie Shop: With direct southern exposure, The
Pie Shop is one of Tahoes few year-round climbing areas. It
offers great bouldering, okay and gritty sport climbing, and two
quality trad climbs. The rock is of less quality than Lovers
Leap, the approach takes 5 minutes, there are 10 boulders, and the
cliffs are 50 to 200 feet tall. (20 minutes from Lovers Leap.)
Luther Rock: This summer and fall area offers 30
quality sport climbs and a few trad climbs nearly all at the 5.10
and 5.11 grades. The rock quality is good to great with a texture
that doesn'tt tear up your fingers. The cliffs are 60 to 100
feet tall and the approach takes 45 minutes. (30 minutes from Lovers