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The Gorge

California > Lake Tahoe > I-80 Corridor > Bowman/Emeralds > Emeralds
Access Issue: No overnight camping on PG&E property Details
Access Issue: Flood Danger Details


WARNING (this only applies to the Gorge Section and not the Benches section)! As the sign posted at the parking lot reminds you, this area is subject to sudden and severe flooding, especially in run off times (spring and winter). Most of the climbing routes in the gorge are in the potential flooding areas, as walls of the gorge sit below several LARGE floodgates from lake Spaulding. These gates may open at any time, and as the sign in the parking area states, there may or may not be warning. Being in the gorge when the gates open would probably mean death, and being in the other climbing areas will mean that your exit is blocked until flood waters reside. Read all posted signs in the parking area, and also beware that these may not be updated.

Josh Horniak's 2017 North Tahoe Guide has the last published information.

The Gorge and the Wishing Well are located below the outlet gates of Spaulding Reservoir and in the spring and winter can be subject to flooding if the gates are opened or if water is going over the gates. Once the lake level is below the bottom of the gates, which usually occurs in the spring, there is no possibility of flooding. It is easy to determine the level of the lake by hiking to the gates and looking. This potential flooding only refers to the Gorge and the Wishing Well.

This page is being recycled from Aron Quiter's original main page describing the Emeralds.

Getting There

Head east past Kudos/Fast Food Cliff then another 15 minutes to Gorge - follow trail/cairns left at fork - gentle down hill. Enter middle Gorge to access Wishing Well. About 30 minutes from parking area. - mike carville

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Super Alpine Route Direct .11a. Emeralds, CA.
[Hide Photo] Super Alpine Route Direct .11a. Emeralds, CA.

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Kelley Gilleran
Meadow Vista
[Hide Comment] The easiest way to get into the gorge is to hike 10 minutes past Kudos down the same main approach trail. You will get to a well maintained trail that cuts left (downhill) and dumps you out at the middle gorge. Scramble down some scree and you're dead smack in the middle of the gorge. Lower gorge is to your left and upper gorge is to your right toward the dam. The "wishing well" doesn't really exist any more because the boulders that formed the pools have been swept downstream during the release of flood waters.

Note: There are sandy slopes above the gorge and when it's windy or after a rain large rocks have been known to pinball down into the gorge. It seems the large boulder in the middle of the upper gorge is ground zero. We also found a rattlesnake by this boulder last year. May 27, 2014
[Hide Comment] Rappelled into the Upper Gorge today to check out conditions. The water was below the dam so it is safe to climb below. As far as I could tell the routes there were not affected by the winter storms. The narrow pool at the base is very full so getting over to the south side wall will be interesting...
Update: Took a friend out there and noticed the rappel anchors 100ft down as listed in the North Tahoe Guide are destroyed (could have been like this for a few seasons as this is the first season I have been down there). So you need a long rope to reach the bottom, and at that point you will need your swim trunks. Jul 27, 2017