I got a call from a reader this week with two problems. He's handicapped and uses a motorized wagon for his hiking, which I figure it's a good thing he's getting out.
His first problem is that he needs to know some hiking trails that he can explore. I figured I can help him there with a few and then check out some more.
Second problem is at the new Mexican Ditch bridge. He said there is a step there that makes it impossible for him to cross the bridge. Not having tried the new bridge, I checked with the Parks and Recreation Commission and was told that there isn't a step but that erosion might have created a gap between the bridge and the trail. The spokeswoman said she would make sure that the problem was looked into and corrected.
As far as trails, other than in the city itself, I can think of several offhand.
One is the apron on the west slope of Prison Hill. There are several trails off the main section that are reasonably even with no humps or big bumps. Just start at the parking area of Koontz and explore. I would not suggest the west slope of Prison Hill as that gets steep in a hurry and there is a narrow section that could be dangerous.
Then I would suggest the Job's Ranch trail off Foothill Road past Genoa. The section wandering across the gentle slope would be fine and could be motored up to the woods, where the path takes a steep dip.
Deadman's Creek, opposite Washoe State Park, has a newer trail leading up to the gazebo that starts out OK for a handicapped vehicle. But instead of taking the fork for the gazebo, take the left fork up to a wildlife viewing area. Of course, Washoe State Park offers paved roads and grassy areas easy on wheels.
One more trail my caller could try would be the Meadow Trail at the border of South Lake Tahoe off Highway 50 West. This might be ideal as the parking is right at the trail head and the path leads down to Nevada Beach across some nice bridges with some stunning views of Lake Tahoe.
I'm sure there are many more such trails and I'll check them out for future reports.
Heavenly Mountain Resort (remember when it was called ski resort?) Has added two new experiences to its summer. The new Heavenly Summit Ticket products allow sightseeing guests to ride a chairlift to 9,725 feet, nearly 3,500 feet above lake level, to enjoy unparalleled views of the Lake Tahoe basin and the Carson Valley.
"The Heavenly Summit Ticket adventures give our guests the opportunity to experience Lake Tahoe from a new perspective - 9,725 feet," said Michael Allen, Heavenly's director of ski school and guest services. "Add that to our current Adventure Peak offerings, including the Heavenly Flyer zip line, and Heavenly is an extraordinary summer destination for the entire family."
From the top of the Heavenly Gondola, the new ticket allows Heavenly's guests to ride the Tamarack Express, a six-person, high-speed, detachable chairlift to 9,725 feet, where they can unload and walk to the top of Dipper Express. The Summit Ticket Guided Eco Walk takes a group of up to 15 guests on a 1.5-mile guided walk where a Heavenly Eco Ranger teaches participants about Lake Tahoe, its native plants, wildlife and people.
The Summit Ticket is available seven days per week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets (including the Gondola ride) are $38 for adults (19-64), $32 for teens (13-18) and seniors (65 plus), and $24 dollars for children (5-12). Children four and under are free.
The Summit Ticket Guided Eco Walks meet daily at 11:30 a.m. at the information shack at the base of the stairs at the top of the Gondola. Groups of up to 15 people walk past Dipper Express, along Skyline Trail to the Pinnacles, where they may enjoy a sack lunch. Prices are $65 for adults (19-64), $55 for teens (13-18) and seniors (65 plus), and $50 for children (5-12).
The Heavenly Gondola will operate through Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. for sightseeing. Adventure Peak activities include the Heavenly Flyer zip line, the Spider Climber and the multi-level climbing wall from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Three hiking trails will be open daily, weather permitting, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Due to the sensitivity of the high-alpine environment, guests are asked to stay on the designated trails.
NORTHSTAR AND BLUES
Life after skiing and boarding? You bet. Snow resorts offer plenty to do after the snow melts. There's the Beerfest & Bluegrass 2009 - live bluegrass and beer tasting festival at Northstar Village Saturday, July 11. The festivities will get under way at 2 p.m. and last till 7 p.m. with beer served from more than 20 breweries. Music from three premier bluegrass bands continues until 7:30 p.m.
There are several ticket options from $30 to the LUX Beerfest ticket for $60, with extra luxuries. For more information or tickets, call 800-GO.NORTH.
BACK TO CRYSTAL MINE
A friend asked for some quartz from the Crystal Mine outside Verdi so I made a second visit, this time with no problems in finding the mine. The dirt road is still pretty rough and the segment from road 002 (a free map identifies it all) to the mine parking area is a mess but doable. This time I took my time, visited Crystal Mountain Park on the Truckee, a beautiful little place to stop and check the river and maybe take a dip. Lots of places along the river to swim, wade, fish or just enjoy the fast-flowing river.
I visited Overlook Campground and found a better way to the quartz; instead of taking the obvious trail at the upper parking area, look to the right where some artfully place boulders block vehicular traffic; the climb is short and puts you right at the center of the mining area. Instead of using a backpack to bring out the quartz, this time I used a small garden wagon; worked fine with a full load.
I took the 10-mile long way back to paved roads again as I wanted to check out hiking trails in stunning Long Valley, which is surely one of the most beautiful views in the west. Didn't spot any so will have to Google it. The big playa at Cold Springs off Highway 395 is a surprise, but why not? Used to be lots of lakes in Nevada, not forgetting Black Rock Desert's playa, where the 2009 Burning Man will he held in August. Tickets are on sale now at the best prices of the season.
The map I mentioned early is on hand everywhere in the mountains west of Verdi (at Station 1 on Dog Valley Road, for instance) and it very specifically details all the hundreds of side roads that entice while driving around. Next time I visit that area I'm going to have my camping gear along.
• Contact Sam at 841-7818 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.