If you're looking for a hike this holiday weekend, there are some places that I would recommend, some that I wouldn't. After all, those flatlanders will be out in force at the more popular and accessible treks.
I wouldn't think of trying Horsetail Falls. The one parking lot will be jammed from Friday afternoon on, and the trails will be busy. Same for heading for the Desolation Wilderness via Echo Pass. That's an easier hike but long, even if you take the ferry boat from the dam. And that Echo trail is a killer for dogs -- sharp rocks and all.
The treks at the top of the Heavenly gondola will also be busy, although it's an easy way to get to cooler air. But it's $20 per person unless you've a season ski pass. Then it's free.
All the trails from Emerald Bay will be jammed as will those from Bayview and Eagle Lake. Parking will be packed and at Eagle Lake and you'll have to pay as well. For sure you might as well pass up Carson Pass (parking will be full) and the trail at the snow park on the other side of the road. Both will be busy.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that there are several area treks that will be largely empty or at least not toe-to-heel.
One is Horsethief Canyon Highway 88 out of Gardnerville. Pass Woodfords and a couple of miles on there's a small sign on the right to the trailhead. This is one of the steepest treks around which keeps flatlanders off. But it's quite pretty with towering granite cliffs on the right and tiny springs on the left. This is not a long hike, perhaps 2.5 miles but there's lots of elevation.
Then there's one of my favorites, Charity Valley. This requires a bit of planning leaving one car at the hot springs at Markleeville, then taking the other car back to Picketts Junction off Highway 88 where it joins Highway 89. Take the left up toward Blue Lakes and keep an eye out for the Charity Valley trailhead on the left. Park and hike. This is a moderate level venture but quite pretty.
It starts out steep but then levels out for the 4 miles to the hot springs. Some nice nooks along the way among the towering cliffs on the left and if there's any water left at the unmarked springs on the right. If you're cool you can warm up at the hot springs for a few bucks. then of course take the second car back to the first.
And if you just want a short and easy hike, try Deadman's Creek off 395 North along Washoe Lake. About a mile, nice views of the lake and Slide Mountain. Me, I've got some new software that I want to install so I'll hunker down at home.
Ski passes still on sale
Mt. Rose continues its offer of the Value Pass Sale starting Sept. 3. Price is $249 and you can buy it on line at skirose.com. The pass is good except for holiday periods. You can also buy the pass in person at the Mt. Rose lodge Thursday and Fridays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Price goes up to $700 after Sept. 30.
This Saturday is the last opportunity to participate in one of Squaw Valley's informative guided nature hikes this summer.
Hikers stroll among wildflowers, gaze at the spectacular views and learn about the cultural and natural history of Squaw Valley and the Lake Tahoe basin with lifelong Tahoe resident and forest ecologist Bob Wright. The hike takes guests on a tour of the natural vegetation and evolution of the area while exploring the fields of wildflowers and rocky ridges of the upper mountain. Guests are encouraged to wear hiking shoes and bring water.
The hike begins at noon and lasts an hour and a half.
Guests should meet on the grass lawn at High Camp (please allow some extra time for the Cable Car ride to the upper mountain). Cable car tickets to High Camp cost $17 for adults and $5 children 12 and under. There is no additional charge for the hike.
Call 530-583-6985 or visit www.squaw.com.
Other bits ...
Kirkwood will be open will a couple of lifts running for hiking or biking. And the restaurant and bar at the new lodge will be in business. ... As mentioned earlier, Heavenly's gondola will be running and if you've got guests in town it's a fine place to give them a view of Lake Tahoe.... Smart money will be to stay out of South Lake Tahoe except for the ski and snowboard show at the Crescent V shopping center. This is the mother of all ski shows in the area with excellent buys on new and some demo gear plus snowsport apparel. Starts Saturday and runs through Monday. Smart shoppers get there at 9 a.m. to cherry pick the best gear.
Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.