Exploring the Back Roads of Lake Tahoe California: Tahoma
The West Shore is the Best Shore
I was born in San Jose California, my Dad was in the Navy in San Diego and my Mom was raised in L.A. Shortly after my birth my Dad found himself out of the Navy and a decision had to be made where he wanted to raise his family.
My Mom made it clear to him that she needed mountains and pine trees, and so they moved to Crestline California overlooking San Bernadino. This mountain, although covered with pine, was located right in the middle of the air pollution of San Bernadino. Both of them desperately wanted to leave the pollution to find some clean air with their mountain scenery.
My Dad found a job with Ma Bell, our Mountain Bell, in Lake Tahoe California in the late seventies. The cost of living on the lake at the time was much less than now and affordable to anyone with a full time decent paying job.
So they moved to Lake Tahoe and with a little financial help from their parents were able to buy a home in Tahoma California only blocks away from the awe inspiring Lake Tahoe.
When my Dad was forced to quite his job due to mulitple ulcers, they left Tahoe and moved into a small valley in Nevada right at the foothills of the Sierra's minutes away from the Lake. They kept the home and sold portions of the land, and home, to family members.
I spent my childhood at this house in Tahoma. Even though the home is wrapped up with the legality of multiple ownership, my wife and I frequent the cabin often to take breaks from the stress of everyday.
The town of Tahoma is small and quite, yet provides some of the most beautiful scenery of the Lake along with some world class skiing. Even though South Lake Tahoe has casinos and glamour, and North Lake Tahoe has Squaw Valley and world class skiing, the locals have a saying that goes "The West Shore is the Best Shore."
When you head towards west shore on Highway 89 towards Tahoma and Tahoe City you will pass Emerald Bay. Guaranteed that you will stop your car and look over the steep cliffs that head down into the most beautiful bay you will ever see.
In 1969 Emerald Bay became a Natural National Landmark and offers two campgrounds and boat in camping. The Bay also holds the trailheads to the Rubicon Foot Trails that lead up into D.L. Bliss State Park.
A two mile hike from Highway 89 to the bay will take the hiker through a series of steep cutbacks down to Vikingsholm. Vikingsholm is a stone castle that displays some of the finest Scandinavian architecture in the western Hemisphere.
From this castle one can hike to the beach of the bay and see Tahoe's only island, Fannette Island. The story goes that the owner of the island built a stone auditorium in the middle of the island to have "tea parties" with her friends. Today, there are boat tours and canoe rentals that can take you out to see the auditorium and imagine being at one of these legendary "tea parties."
Sugar Pine Point State Park
Less than a minute outside Tahoma is Sugarpine Point State Park. In the 1870's the area that surrounded Tahoma was being clear cut to supply logs for the Comstock Lode in Nevada.
One of Lake Tahoe's first residence was "General" William Phipps who bought the land, now known as Sugarpine Point, to protect the trees in that area.
A banker by the name if Isaias Hellman bought "General" William Phipps's land and built the Ehrman Mansion that still stands today. Tourists can take tours of the mansion on a daily basis during the summer months.
One of the biggest attractions of Sugarpine Point is the hiking. Hikers can begin at General Creek Trailhead and head into the El Dorado National Forest. This trail will take the hikers into Desolation Wilderness and eventually to the Pine Crest Trail around Tahoe. This hike starts out moderate but turns into an overnight camping trail around Desolation Wilderness. Make sure to bring a pack with camping gear, food, and water.
There are bike trails around the Park and around the Lake. I remember riding these trails as a boy and staring up at the magnificent trees. Sugarpine Point not only is full of Sugar Pine, but Jeffrey Pine, White Fur; and in Autumn, Black Cottonwood, and Quaking Aspen groves.
Homewood Ski Resort
Homewood Ski Resort is where I learned to ski at around five years old. The resort has great educational opportunities in it's ski school.
Not only is the hill perfect for learning, it offers one of the best veiws of the lake from the top of the face. There is a perfect mixture of easy and difficult runs and enough runs to make the hill an adventure you will never forget.
Homewood has a full size half pipe created every season for skiers and snowboarders alike and was one of the first resorts to offer snowboarding when the sport was becoming popular.
Homewood is quiet and nestled into the trees. The lift lines never get too long and the wait to ski is never annoying. Most skiers from out of state, or country, go to Heavenly Valley or Squaw and the smaller resorts like Homewood are perfect for a skier that needs a little peace.
Homewood has been and will be my favorite ski resort in the Sierra Mountain Range.
I hope one day you can make it to Lake Tahoe California, especially Tahoma and the west shore, and enjoy the hiking and skiing that Homewood has to offer, until then I will see you again with the next installment of "Exploring the Back Roads..."
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