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By Tim Hauserman
When looking across Lake Tahoe to the area around Incline Village, you are not able to see the monkey hanging out in the forest above the lake, but he is there. Since he is made out of a huge piece of granite, he will still be there when you take the short hike up to see him.
For years I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook of a white granite rock that looks like a monkey with the Incline Village shoreline behind it. Finally, I was in the mood to hike someplace different so we made the short but steep jaunt up to see him, and it was well worth the effort. We started at the Tunnel Creek Cafe at the start of the East Shore Trail. From there a dirt trail above the cafe leads to Tunnel Creek Road.
After a mostly level traverse with lovely Lake Tahoe views, in about a half mile you reach Tunnel Creek Road, a dirt pathway that connects to The Flume Trail, a popular mountain biking route. From here, the trail gets moderately steep as you climb away from the lake.
The trail gets steeper and heads to the left, and just before it starts off to the right again, about one mile from where you started, a trail heads off to the left to the top of a knob. Now much of Lake Tahoe unfolds below you as you reach a pile of smooth humongous granite boulders.
Now, look towards the lake to the right and there it is with Incline’s sandy beaches right beyond it. A big chunk of granite that looks a lot like a monkey’s head. Apparently, some carving was done to enhance what already looked like a monkey, but it sure is a good excuse to see an incredible view of Tahoe.
On the way back, check out the East Shore Trail. When you reach the intersection of Tunnel Creek Road and the trail you took from Tunnel Creek Cafe, head left and you will soon arrive at the bike trail. From here you can turn right and walk back to your car on the trail or take a quick left and pass through the tunnel to the portion of the trail that travels along Tahoe’s shoreline towards Sand Harbor. If you have the extra time, stroll as far as you like along this section as it is an engineering marvel with spectacular lake views.