New Snow in the Sierra Nevada: A Timely Reminder for American Discovery Trail Hikers

Recent light snowfall in the Sierra Nevada is a crucial reminder for hikers on the American Discovery Trail. Learn why timing your crossing by Halloween is key. 🎃🥾❄️

Clouds rushing over the Sierra Nevada mountains of California
Photo by F Cary Snyder / Unsplash

As we arrive at Halloween week, we've noticed a light dusting of snow in the Sierra Nevada. While it's only been about 3 inches or less, it serves as a timely reminder for all hikers of the American Discovery Trail. If you recall, we published an article earlier this year discussing the importance of timing your Sierra Nevada crossing to avoid the challenges posed by snowfall.

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⏰Why Timing Matters

The Sierra Nevada is a breathtaking but challenging part of the American Discovery Trail. Snow in this region can make the trail not only difficult but also dangerous. Snowfall can lead to slippery conditions, obscured trail markers, and increased risk of avalanches. That's why timing your hike correctly is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience.

🎃The Halloween Rule of Thumb

As mentioned earlier this year in our article discussing how to plan for crossing the Sierra Nevada for both Eastbound and Westbound crossings, a good rule of thumb is to aim to cross the Sierra Nevada by Halloween. This guideline is based on historical weather patterns that show snowfall typically becoming more frequent and heavier from November onwards. While this year's snowfall has been light so far, it's a sign of what's to come.

California SNOTEL Reports indicate 2" of snow fell in Palisades and 3" in Mt Rose this week before melting.

❄️What This Week's Snow Means for You

The recent snowfall, albeit minimal, is a wake-up call. If you're currently on the trail or planning to set out soon, it's time to reassess your plans. Consider the following:

  1. 🌨️ Check Weather Forecasts: Always keep an eye on the weather forecast for the Sierra Nevada region. Conditions can change rapidly.
  2. 🧤 Gear Up: If you must cross post-Halloween, make sure you have the right gear for snow and cold weather. This includes crampons, an ice axe, and appropriate clothing.
  3. 🗺️ Consider Alternate Routes: Some parts of the trail may offer lower elevations or paths that are less affected by snow. Research and plan accordingly.
  4. 🔙 Be Prepared to Turn Back: Sometimes, it's better to be safe than sorry. If conditions worsen, turning back or waiting it out may be the best option.


The recent snowfall in the Sierra Nevada serves as a timely reminder to all hikers of the American Discovery Trail. While the snow has been light, it's a sign of the changing seasons and the challenges that lie ahead. The Sierra averages 222 inches of snow a year!

Remember the Halloween rule of thumb and adjust your plans accordingly to ensure a safe and fulfilling hiking experience.
Stay safe, and happy hiking! 🌲🥾

Hike Your Hike - John.

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