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Around Lake Tahoe and its short Walks and wonderful Hikes
Views from Lake Tahoe walks
The Jewel of the Sierras Part 1
Mark Twain has immortalised the beauty of Lake Tahoe with the comments he made when he first looked down upon its fairness. He wasn't the first person to see it, as the Washoe Indian tribe had inhabited its banks for centuries. They lived on the plentiful fish, nuts from the Sugar Pine and Pinion pine trees. Also a plethora of animals lived there too, some harmless and edible and some highly dangerous like the Cougar or Mountain Lion. Black bears inhabit the forests but are rarely a threat to humans. It is not wise to walk in the mountains alone and you should always carry water, warm clothing, a cell phone, food and a map. Tell a friend where you are going and when you intend to return. If you are a visitor, a message left on your car seat giving your intended route and time of return with your name, a contact name and your cell phone number. The Sierras are vast and the territory does not belong to us. It is better to be safe than sorry. Even in summer storms can suddenly appear and change the whole parameters of your walk .Never underestimate the power of the sun at altitude, and the trail is at 10,000 feet. Some people even go as far as carrying a hand gun but in 15 years of hiking in the mountains I have not yet had the need for one and I live to tell this tale. Maybe this is because I always walk with my trusty Labrador dog.
Depending on your level of fitness, your walk may be an all day hike or just a meander across meadows to see the array of beautiful wild flowers. The most strenuous walk is, of course, the Tahoe Rim Trail which you can join at many points around the lake. It is divided up into segments so you can choose the length and toughness of your walk. Each entry point tells you the length of the segment and where it will end, often there are maps for your use. "Google" The Tahoe Rim Trail and you will receive all the information you need. Usually the snow has retreated by the end of April, before that it's snow shoe territory.
There are numerous short walks near the top of Mount Rose Highway, Hwy 431. As you leave Incline Village towards Reno there is a parking lot just off the road on the right hand side down a short driveway with an information area and convenient rest rooms.. Here you will find board walks over the meadows and wet lands. The scenery is spectacular and wild life abounds. A new walk has been created half a mile before the rest area where you can see a patchwork quilt of wild flowers by taking the footpath on the right hand side as you drive up the hill. A great place to take your dog for a walk in the woods is at the end of Barbara street. This is the third left on Hwy 431 as you leave the village. The walk takes an hour approximately and the return route is marked on a tree. You are likely to meet other dog owners. Beautiful wild flowers are scattered amongst the tall pine trees.
Also adjacent to Hwy 431 on the right, about 150 yds past the scenic lookout as you leave the village, is a walk along an old flume trail. There is a parking area opposite the entrance. The walk is not too strenuous but unless you arrange to leave a car in the parking lot at the Diamond Peak ski resort you have to turn round and walk back the way you came. Vestiges of the old log flume are scattered about and old nails are a hazard to the mountain bike riders who use the path. By crossing the bridge over the stream at the bottom of the valley and then bearing right you end up at Diamond Peak after a two mile trek.
A popular walk is up to the Fire Lookout behind Stateline on the North shore .Take Reservoir Rd off Hwy 28 on the Incline Village side of the Biltmore Hotel for a short distance to Lakeview on the right hand side. Follow that road up until you reach Lookout Rd protected by a large iron gate. The walk up this paved road is well rewarded by amazing views of the lake. There are interesting placards describing the terrain and its history. The controversial dividing line between California an Nevada is at the top. Sadly, the old wooden fire lookout has been demolished but pictures of it are on display.
My favorite walk is to Skunk Harbor. It starts off Highway 28 approx six miles from Ponderosa Ranch and is not sign posted. There is a little parking lot just after the driveway to the famous estate developed by George Whittel. It is Adjacent is a large iron gate guarding a forest road going steeply down hill to the lake. Be warned that going down is delightfully easy but returning uphill is not, especially if you are not used to the altitude of over 6000 ft at lake level. There is an old homestead, now boarded up that was a wedding present to an adored bride. It sports a cook house, small reservoir and staff quarters. The harbour is idyllic and vestiges of the old causeway to the dock remain. Well worth the discomfort of the uphill return.
Many books are available on hilking in Tahoe giving maps and items of interest. For me the main pleasure is the supreme beauty of the environs of the lake and its exquisit flora and fauna. Enjoy!