Ralston Peak via Hwy 50
This is a moderately strenuous out-and-back climb into Desolation Wilderness. You're rewarded with views of Desolation and Lake Tahoe. Total distance is only six miles, but it climbs 2800 feet to a 9200 ft summit -- nearly 1000 ft/mile. Ignore the laughable auto-text above that says 3 miles and 1 hour. Hiking only 3 miles would leave you at the summit - needing helicopter extraction. And I don't know any hikers, no matter how well conditioned, who can climb that elevation gain while maintaining that pace!
The Ralston Peak trailhead on Highway 50 is marked and a right turn into the parking area if you approach it from the East. It's a difficult turn off coming from the West. Signage is for Camp Sacramento, which is on the other side of the highway. There's space for maybe 15 cars at the highway, and then a 4x4 road leads to the trailhead proper, 1/4 mile further up. There's parking for a few 4x4s up there as well.
I'm not sure how many young children are up for a 2800 foot climb! If they are, most of the trail is pretty approachable, not much in the way of cliffs and dropoffs. Since it's in the Caldor Burn scar, it could be a good opportunity to talk to kids about the impact of wildfire.
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