Bring your snowshoes to hike above Lake Tahoe
May 26, 2005
If you plan on enjoying Lake Tahoe’s backcountry this weekend, you may be in need of a pair of snowshoes.
Much of Tahoe’s backcountry trails remain covered in snow within a half-mile of major trailheads.
“I think this is a beautiful time of year to be out hiking if you’ve got the right gear to be out snow hiking,” said Suzy Lancaster, a U.S. Forest Service backcountry manager at Desolation Wilderness.
“Gortex boots and gaiters, trekking poles or even snowshoes are a good idea. The higher elevation you (gain), the more snow coverage you’ll get.”
If you don’t like snow, don’t despair: Many campgrounds and all beaches are open, and there are a couple of beautiful hikes closer to lake level that have melted out.
The trail to Vikingsholm Castle at Emerald Bay is a short hike and is clear. Hikers and sightseers should note there is a $3 parking fee. The Cascade Falls trail is also mostly clear of snow. And the Spooner Summit area on the east slope is mostly dry.
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The Forest Service is advising all hikers to carry a map and compass if they go in the backcountry, as it is easy to lose a snow-covered trail and become disoriented.
Stream crossings are also hazardous, as snowmelt continues to keep rivers raging. Lancaster also cautioned people from walking across frozen lakes.
“A lot of lakes are still frozen,” she said. “Don’t travel on the ice. It’s never safe to cross any of the lakes back there.”
Hikers should also be aware of spring avalanche conditions if they venture into the snow. Warm nights have deprived backcountry skiers of quality corn snow – created by repeated melting and refreezing – and instead have delivered wet slides throughout the basin.
Snow is still blocking the Glen Alpine trailhead, above Fallen Leaf Lake. Parking for the Eagle Falls trailhead above Emerald Bay will remain closed for rehabilitation until June, due to wet conditions.
Most off-roading areas in the Tahoe basin are also inaccessible because of snow and wet conditions.
Snow is expected to last on some passes and mountain tops throughout the summer.
Hikers can call (530) 543-2694 for the Forest Service’s most up-to-date trail information.