Tahoe on Foot
Explore the region trail by trail
For outdoorsy Marinites who relish exploring our area’s abundance of open space, finding exciting new terrain to tackle is rare. Overseas, there’s Mount Everest; closer to home are Mounts Shasta and Whitney…and closer still, there’s the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile single track (wide enough for horses) that passes through two states, six counties, one state park, three national forests and three wilderness areas. The trail, conceived of by a handful of dedicated hikers in 1984, is now maintained by an active board and volunteers, as well as through fundraising events like the Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s Annual Thru-Hike, an entry-level two-week backpacking adventure. The trail itself can be hiked either in part or in entirety, with a TRTA-organized group or on your own, as retired yachting journalist Robert Moore of Mill Valley and a few other hikers did last fall. “It is relatively easy hiking on well-groomed trails with altitudes ranging between 6,500 and 10,000 feet,” he says. “The TRT has everything going for it: jaw-dropping scenery, benign weather (we slept under the stars), good re-supply options (Tahoe City, Echo Lake, South Lake Tahoe), virtually no bear problems (they seem to prefer raiding campsites at lake level), and not many people (except on weekends near roads).”
After completing the trek and getting his name listed in the trail association’s 165 Mile Club log book, he was relieved it was over and ready for a beer. “The hardest part of any long hike is more mental than physical,” Moore says. “I also remember wishing I could linger in the mountains longer.” If he had to recommend one section of the 165 miles, he’d pick the Pacific Crest Trail. “No bikes allowed, great scenery, lots of water. It’s a lunar landscape, more like the High Sierra than Lake Tahoe.”
For those who spring for the Thru-Hike (the 2009 fee is $1,750), the trip comes with a CPR/first aid–certified guide and “Trail Angels” who bring in personal supplies and treats along the way. To learn more about the Tahoe Rim Trail, check out tahoerimtrail.org or pick up a copy of Tahoe Rim Trail, by Truckee’s Tim Hauserman.
Tahoe Locals’ Recommendations: Views
Pacific Crest Trail, Donner Summit to Squaw Valley Plan for a pickup in Squaw Valley and gear up for challenge. This 15-mile one-way hike pays off with panoramic views of the entire area, including the American River Canyon, as you pass by Anderson Peak and Tinker’s Knob. The trek begins on the rugged ridges of the Sierra Crest near Donner Summit’s Old Highway 40. Get there: The trailhead is located off Old Hwy. 40, four miles west of Donner Lake’s west end.
Mount Rose One of the highest peaks near Lake Tahoe, Mount Rose gives spectacular views of the lake, Reno and the Tahoe Basin. Follow a dirt road for three miles through a forest full of lodgepole pines, mule ears and sagebrush. The last two miles follow slippery switchbacks to the ridgeline. Don’t forget to sign the log book at the top. Get there: Take Hwy. 431 (Mount Rose Hwy.) north from Incline Village. Park at the trailhead one mile before (south of) the summit.
Rubicon Trail Opt for either 4.5 miles (to Emerald Point) or 6.5 miles (to Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay) on this lakeside trail, which meanders up and down along the shore, with dazzling views. Many coves offer secluded spots where you can swim or picnic. No dogs. Get there: Take Hwy. 89 South from Tahoe City approximately 16 miles to
D. L. Bliss State Park. Park in the fee lot.
Northstar-at-Tahoe Start at the village, take a free gondola ride up to mid-mountain or the top of the mountain, and hop on the Zephyr chairlift to explore the miles of terrain near the resort and views of the Tahoe Basin, as well as the lake. Get there: Park in the lot near the village.
Donner Memorial State Park Interpretive Trail A gentle self-guided nature trail starts near the museum and loops through the forest. Also, an educational one-mile lakeside interpretive trail begins in the lagoon portion of the day-use area and continues along the lake. Printed trail guides are available at the park’s entrance station. Get there: The park is just west of downtown Truckee on the south side of the freeway.
High Camp at Squaw Valley Pick a trail—there are six hike options, ranging from easy to strenuous, one to four miles. Take the cable-car tram up to High Camp from the base of Squaw Valley. Best part of this experience is perhaps the large Swimming Lagoon pool, along with restaurant facilities open year round. Dogs are allowed on the cable car and welcome on all trails. Also for the night owls, Squaw Valley offers guided sunset (weekends) and full moon (July and August) hikes. Get there: Start at the Squaw Valley parking lot.
Martis Creek/Tompkins Memorial Trail Over 14 miles of trails, with maps displayed throughout the park. Hikes run along a pristine creek and range from 40 minutes to half a day; many have trailside picnic tables. Get there: From Kings Beach take Rte. 267 past Northstar until you see a small brown sign on the right reading “Martis Creek Wildlife Area.” Park in the lot at the end of the dirt road. Martis Ranger Station, 530.587.8113.
Go for a Dip
Loch Leven Lakes This trail on Donner Summit features four different alpine lakes within the first few miles. Hike a bit more (two miles) for Upper Loch Leven Lake; a little more effort gets you to High Loch Leven Lake, a mile and a half farther up the trail. Locals recommend swimming at the far end of the second lake. Get there: Off I-80, the trailhead begins 1/8 mile east of the Big Bend Visitor Center.
Five Lakes Trailhead Start on the Powderhorn Trail and go four miles to Diamond Crossing, where Five Lakes Creek Trail begins. That trail winds along and across Five Lakes Creek to Whiskey Creek. Or, from the Five Lakes trailhead, follow a well-manicured path up through the valley between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows to get to the five serene lakes, which are open to fishing and swimming. Get there: Trailhead is about two miles down the Alpine Meadows access road, on the right-hand side. Look for a small sign just off the road.
Meeks Bay Trail After approximately 1.3 miles, the trail passes a small spring, parallels Meeks Creek and continues upward into a forested valley. The trail ascends 1,000 feet up a series of switchbacks leading to Phipps Pass. Trail is 4.5 miles to Lake Genevieve, 5 to Crag, 5.7 to Hidden, 5.9 to Shadow, 6.3 miles to Stony Ridge, and 8 miles to Rubicon. This hike is part of the unofficial Tahoe-Yosemite Trail. Get there: Take Hwy. 89 South from Tahoe City about 11 miles to the Meeks Bay Resort. Park in a small lot across the highway from the resort. A wilderness permit is required.
Prey Meadow/Skunk Harbor This is an easy 1.5-mile stroll through a mixed conifer forest with views of the lake en route. Look for the remains of an 1870s railroad grade built as a timber-supply route to Virginia. At the fork in the road, bear left toward wildflower-laden Prey Meadows or right to a small picturesque swimming cove called Skunk Harbor. Get there: Take Hwy. 28 South along the East Shore and look for an iron gate on the lake side of the road, about two miles north of the Hwy. 50 turnoff. Park in one of the turnouts along the highway; do not block the gate.
Truckee Trails Foundation truckeetrails.org
Tahoe Adventure Company tahoeadventurecompany.com
North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureaus gotahoenorth.com
Squaw Valley squaw.com/summer-squaw
Summer Lodging Packages
Where to Stay
With new properties like the Ritz Carlton opening in fall 2009, and the recent completion of Hyatt Residence Club at Northstar, Lake Tahoe is looking towards a bright future as a world-class destination. Need a dose of pine-scented mountain air? Check out these economically stimulating deals for summer.
Resort at Squaw Creek is offering a “Memorial Summer-Launch Bed & Breakfast Package” for $179 per night, per Deluxe Guestroom, that includes nightly accommodations, breakfast for two adults and a daily resort credit of $25 per room valid in the spa, restaurants, at High Altitude Adventures, and property-owned retail outlets. In addition, during the package period, children ages 12-and-under eat breakfast, lunch and dinner for free (one child per paying adult) from a special children’s menu. The package is valid May 20-26, 2009, squawcreek.com
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino Situated at the base of the Tahoe Rim Trail the Hyatt at Lake Tahoe is a beachfront, family-favorite location. And now with an eye towards budget minded travelers they have opened Tahoe Provisions, a go-to specialty shop for meals to-go and goodies such as wine, picnics and even fresh salads. Through the month of May enjoy your fourth night free, a room upgrade and full American breakfast for two daily when you book the “Three for Free” package. Or check out the “Tahoe Kids Package” good through mid June. Package includes; deluxe overnight accommodations, a $10 roll of quarters for the in-house arcade, A make-your-own s'mores kit (delivered by room service ) for roasting at one of Hyatt’s outdoor firepits or in Lakeside Cottage fireplace, half-off admission to Camp Hyatt, and ,ilk and warm cookies at turndown. Rates begin at $259 night. laketahoe.hyatt.com
Hyatt Residence Club at the Village at Northstar The doors have just opened at this upscale Hyatt property with units ranging from one to three bedrooms decked out in luxe amenities such as Viking kitchen appliances and hi-end linens [really comfortable beds]. Open for guest stays, they rooms are on the market as fractional properties. Private decks include an outdoor fireplace, and views of either the mountain or the Village. Hi-end features include, a private screening room that seats up to 20 in cozy leather chairs, and a ski valet to make your wintertime stay as stress free as possible. As a bonus, if you decide to buy into their owners program, they will credit your stay towards your down payment. hyattnorthstar.com
Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Choose from either package for great savings. Tahoe Suite Retreat or Tahoe Family Break. Tahoe Suite Retreat 2009 thru 2009, book a spacious two-room suite, and get a cooked-to-order breakfast, and dining credit. A two-night stay earns a $50 dining credit, three night stay $75 dining credit, or, stay four nights or more and receive a $100 dining credit. South shore. Or the Tahoe Family Break 20009, a two or three night package ranging from $209 per night on up for a single or double occupancy. Package includes a daily cooked-to-order breakfast daily, evening managers reception, Tahoeopoly board game, two in-suite movies, and two hours of in-suite video games, A pizza dinner for the family featuring two, 10-inch pizza's, salad and sodas for four, plus popcorn to enjoy your games and movies. 877.497.8483, embassytahoe.com
Shinneyboo Creek Cabins Shinneyboo Creek is offering a two for one midweek special Sunday-Thursday nights. Get the special rate of $94.50 for a cozy cabin in the woods on 160 acres just 2 1/2 hours from the Oakland Bay Bridge. Closer and more secluded. Mention Marin Magazine when you make your reservation, 530.587.5160, pamping.com
Donner Lake Village Resort Join the Donner Lake Club at Donner Lake Village Resort for a special 30 percent off Sun.-Thurs. and 10 percent off Fri. and Sat., non-holiday based on availability. Amenities include lakeside accommodations, free boat slips while a guest at the resort, free wireless Internet, and close proximity to Historic Downtown Truckee, 800.924.9960, donnerlakevillage.com 800.924.9960
Truckee Hampton Inn Truckee Hampton Inn is offering an enticing value-added deal for golfers. Golf foursomes who stay Sunday-Thursday during golf season (late May to late October) will receive reduced room rates and a great deal at the local Truckee icon, Moody’s Bistro, for dinner. Book four for dinner and receive the fourth dinner free. For details visit hamptoninntruckee.com or call 888.597.1197 and ask for the Golf Foursome Deal.
PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn is pairing up with Shakespeare on the Lake, Live at Sunset. Experience two nights lodging, two tickets to the Shakespeare on the Lake show of choice and dinner (or lunch) for two at the PlumpJack Café. Available July 11 – August 23, 2009. Prices range from $512 to $616 depending on seating and days of the week. To book this unique package please contact the hotel manager, Eric Hudock, by calling 800.323.7666 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. *Package is based on double-occupancy.
For active travelers looking for a great deal, check out the Hiker’s Delight Package by The Village at Squaw Valley, which includes The Tahoe Sierra: A Natural History Guide to 112 Hikes In The Northern Sierra by Jeffery P. Schaffer, and a welcome amenity designed to help you get the most out of your stay in Tahoe. Starting at just $69.50 per person. For swimmers, the High Camp Swimming Package includes Cable Car lift tickets and swim passes, based on the number of people (Adult, Teen or Child), and lodging in the Village condominium suite of your choice. Starting at just $84.60 per person. These rates are for per person per night valid 5/21/09-10/31/09 or until the snow falls. 866.818.6963, thevillageatsquaw.com