Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Lover's Leap

California > Lake Tahoe > Highway 50 Corridor

Description

This area is an excellent 250 to nearly 600 foot tall chunk of mostly vertical granite, containing hundreds of cracks crisscrossed with thousands of horizontal dikes. These dikes are key to reducing what would otherwise be very steep and difficult traditional routes, into routes with good rests and abundant holds, resulting in an area with relatively moderate grades. You will find over 250 developed routes that range from low bouldering traverses to 4 pitches tall. Some routes are bolt protected, but most of the sport climbing is 5.10+ YDS or harder, as the abundance of traditionally protected routes in close proximity to each other discourages squeezing in a bunch of moderate sport face climbing. All of the routes demand less than 20 minutes to "hike" into, as the entrance path is part of the pioneer trail, and therefore excellently maintained and quite wide.

Lovers Leap can sometimes seem crowded in certain areas, especially in the summer on weekends. However there is an almost limitless number of adventure routes and hidden classics that rarely ever see any traffic. As long as you're willing to step outside the box and try something that is not a "trade route", you will never have to wait in line or climb anywhere near other climbers... ever! Lovers Leap has a higher concentration and number of routes in close proximity to each other than any other crag in California. Add to that it's wide range of difficulty in routes and there is more than enough to keep everyone busy for a long time.

The main formation is traditionally divided into these walls, from right/west/closest to the campground, to left/east/furthest:West Wall, Main Wall, Central Wall, and East Wall. The second largest formation is the Hogsback. Many other small developed walls abound, mostly not yet covered on this site (seven or more of these are covered in Carville's Tahoe climbing guide). The nearest and most popular of these are the Lower Buttress and Dear John Buttress. The Loaf Boulder and Monks Rock are major boulders right outside the campground; other potential abounds in less convenient and obvious pieces of granite.

Lovers Leap Conditions forum.​​​

Getting There

From the Bay Area / Sacramento: Head East on highway 50 towards Placerville. Continue past Placerville to the town of Strawberry, which is approximately 8 miles past the more marked Kyburz. Turn off the highway onto Strawberry Ln that parallels the 50 just on the far side of the Strawberry lodge, which is hard to miss on your right. This is about 40 miles past Placerville. You get a good glimpse of the west and main walls as you get close to the Lodge on a clear day.

From Lake Tahoe: Head 18 miles West on Highway 50 to the town of Strawberry, where you should head a left just before the Strawberry Lodge, which will approach on your left after a magnificent view of Lover's Leap looming to the left on the way to the lodge.

From the Strawberry Lodge: Follow the Strawberry Ln that Parallels the 50.  After the bridge, turn left onto Strawberry CT and travel through the small neighborhood quietly and slowly, as advised by local signs. You will run directly into the parking lot about 1/3 mile later.

DO NOT PARK ON STRAWBERRY CT (road that takes you into campground).  If you cannot find parking in the campground, you can park at near the Strawberry Lodge or at Strawberry Market(please check in either before leaving your vehicle for the day).

The trailhead is towards the rear of the lot.

Camping and Amenities

There is a developed campground (first come, first served) at the western foot of the cliff. To find the campground, pull into the Strawberry Lodge parking lot. Follow the road to the left of the lodge past several cabins until you cross a small bridge over the river. After the bridge take an immediate left up a single lane road. Follow this road until it ends at the campground.

Camping is $10 (U.S.) a night and $5 (U.S.) for an extra car per day. There is limited day parking ($5) in the campground for climbers. Overflow parking is found along the road 100 yards past the bridge/river on the right side of the road. Do not park alongside the road leading to the campground or in the Strawberry Lodge parking lot. Your car may be towed at your expense, (up to $1000 dollars in fines and/or a 30 day impound can be applied).

Conveniently located at the edge of the campground are a few large boulders worth doing. From the parking lot, head uphill and cross over the small foot bridge to the Pony Express Trail. Hang a left, and walk up the gently sloped trail for about 3 minutes.

Almost all multipitch routes are best to walk off, both for the preservation of existing vegetation, and that most routes don't have any fixed protection at the top of the rock due to the abundance of trees, cracks, and large rocks at the top.

You can get pretty good food at the Strawberry Lodge, breakfast, lunch and dinner. They serve food at the bar as well and is a bit cheaper too. The Lodge is very climber friendly and showers can be purchased for a small fee. Just ask at the front desk.

Across the street is the Strawberry Station, where you can pick up drinks and basic goods. There is also well stocked gear room which carries all your basic (and then some) climbing gear. They also rent shoes and crash pads. It is owned and operated by a great and friendly local family the head of which is Squirrel, a local climber with all the beta you'll ever need. Be sure to stop in and support their friendly business.

Access

CRAGS, the local Access Fund affiliate, hosts yearly Adopt-a-Crag events, and collaborates with the Eldorado National Forest.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Steve Miller. Lover's Leap pioneer.<br>
Photo y Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] Steve Miller. Lover's Leap pioneer. Photo y Blitzo.
Neal Archambault on 'Beer Can Direct', 5.11a - Lover's Leap
[Hide Photo] Neal Archambault on 'Beer Can Direct', 5.11a - Lover's Leap
the spectacular corrugation corner
[Hide Photo] the spectacular corrugation corner
Lover's Leap panoramic
[Hide Photo] Lover's Leap panoramic
The Leap.  Tiny climber specks on The Line and Bear's Reach
[Hide Photo] The Leap. Tiny climber specks on The Line and Bear's Reach
Golden hour on the East Wall
[Hide Photo] Golden hour on the East Wall
Sunset on the Traveler Buttress
[Hide Photo] Sunset on the Traveler Buttress
George Connor and partner on Eeyore's Enigma
[Hide Photo] George Connor and partner on Eeyore's Enigma
Where worlds collide...
[Hide Photo] Where worlds collide...
past the crux, working my way up the arete.
[Hide Photo] past the crux, working my way up the arete.
Lover's Leap Area, and The Line Route which follows a perfect multi-pitch finger crack .
[Hide Photo] Lover's Leap Area, and The Line Route which follows a perfect multi-pitch finger crack .
A view of The Leap from the air
[Hide Photo] A view of The Leap from the air

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] I second that area as optional camping. If you want to see something really special, continue up the road to Wright's Lake at the top. Quite a nice place for breakfast if the view of the spires wasn't good enough ~(-: Jun 7, 2007
Salamanizer suchoski
Janesville Ca.
[Hide Comment] The Leap has lots of shade. Usually when the temps are in the 100's in Reno or the Central Valley the Leap stays at a decent 80-85 degrees. There is an occasional heat wave that may make it a bit warm but that's the exception. Should be nice, lots of shade.... Go! Jul 29, 2009
caughtinside
Oakland CA
[Hide Comment] The Lodge is a great resource for climbers and worthy of our support. The food has indeed varied in quality over the years. I wouldn't describe it as terrific, but it currently is decent and reasonably priced.

You can get showers there for $5 as well. Jul 4, 2011
Ned
[Hide Comment] Not mentioned in the Super Topo or anywhere else I could find is that Strawberry Station, across the street from Strawberry Lodge, carries a small but comprehensive supply of climbing gear (along with some camping/hiking gear and groceries). It's much more convenient than having to head into South Lake Tahoe to go to Sports LTD. Jul 15, 2013
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
[Hide Comment] No need to pay $5 if you have a National Park Pass, just display on your dash Jul 17, 2015
[Hide Comment] The campsite is amazing, and the granite is awesome. But I feel like everyone deserves fair warning about the wasp situatuon. At least in late July, when it is warm, if you cook outside, you will do so in a cloud of yellow jackets. They eat meat - and especially like fat... you will end up fighting them for your food. They also love the water spigot - and repeatedly ended up in our water bottles. Jul 30, 2016
leo qiu
Davis, CA
[Hide Comment] Anyone know a guidebook covering most if not all the climbing route in the area? Supertopo removes a lot of nice lines and keep the few popular ones really busy. Mountain project is good but sometimes it is just too hard to use. Thanks Jun 22, 2017
[Hide Comment] First time to the leap last week, with thick smoke from multiple CA wildfires, tho still good climbing. I struggled as a newbie to find the trail for walk-off. Is east and then around the most efficient? Aug 8, 2018
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
[Hide Comment] Yes the walk off is to the east from the main wall Aug 15, 2018