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Exploring Our Backyard: Checking out Tahoe's most famous rock, Monkey Rock

Monkey Rock in Incline Village
Monkey Rock in Incline Village. (Shannon Kelly/NSN)

To see the majestic views of Lake Tahoe, you might think you're in store for a hike that covers many miles and last hours. That’s not the case. As Alex Margulies recently mentioned during his hike at Cave Rock, you can see a gorgeous view in just a few minutes. But if you’re looking for another hike with a gorgeous view that isn’t too strenuous, Monkey Rock is the spot.

I’ve always seen pictures of the infamous “Monkey Rock,” but had no idea where in Tahoe it was and didn’t realize how short of a hike it is for a gorgeous view.

The easiest way to get there is to plug “Tunnel Creek Café” into your GPS. It will take you to a spacious parking lot. If you go during peak hours, you might have trouble finding a parking spot since there’s a lot to do in the area, but there’s parking alongside the road near the lot, too. My friend, Alex, and I arrived around 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning and got lucky finding a parking spot relatively close to the start of the trail.

To find the trail, head towards Tunnel Creek Café and follow the paved road alongside it that heads up hill. Keep walking up that road through the forest service gate and past the “no parking” signs until the trail turns into dirt. To the right, you’ll have a pretty awesome view of Lake Tahoe. Although it's uphill almost the entire way, even if you aren't an avid hiker, I still believe you can make it up this trail.

Keep walking about a half mile up the trail and you’ll see another forest service gate. On your left, you can take a shortcut up to Monkey Rock, but the trail is very steep. We didn’t do that. We just kept following the trail we were on for about another half of a mile until you’ll see a narrow trail off to your left, which meets back up with the shortcut.

There you’ll see a bunch of rocks (and probably people depending on when you go), and you'll soon run into Monkey Rock. We actually couldn’t find the Monkey Rock at first. It’s a little hidden below some of the other rocks, but it was pretty neat. I couldn’t find much history on how the rock got its shape, but needless to say it’s a pretty cool sight to see with a breathtaking view. We hung out up there for a little bit to soak it all in before making the trek back down. There's just something about Lake Tahoe, and the view never fails to amaze me.

If you keep walking up the main trail you’ll eventually hit the Incline Flume Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail, but we ended our hike there. On the way down though, we decided to take the cutoff for Hidden Beach, to walk along the Tahoe East Shore Trail that connects Incline Village to Sand Harbor. Alex hadn’t checked it out yet, so we extended the hike by walking a few miles along the path to soak in the beauty of Lake Tahoe before stopping at T's Rotisserie for tri-tip burritos (one of my favorite spots) to end our awesome day at the lake.

There might not be any real monkeys in Northern Nevada to visit, but our visit to Monkey Rock was well worth the walk.

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Shannon Kelly is a Multimedia Journalist for Nevada Sports Net. You can contact her at slkelly@sbgtv.com or via Twitter @shannonkelly_2.

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