There are many trails though the Sierra Nevada offering all kinds of views and challenges. There's the Tahoe Rim Trail, which winds around Lake Tahoe and is currently being enlarged. There's Horse Tail Falls down Highway 50 at Twin Bridges, that is a hike that can be as easy or as tough as you desire. And then there's the Forest Service Road 1451 just a few hundred yards down from the junction of Highways 28 and 50 West.
The views may not be spectacular on 1451, but the history is real. This two-mile stretch of deteriorating asphalt was once part of the famed Lincoln Highway or National Road, the first continental highway spanning the nation before the Interstate system was created. Across the country there are sections of the Lincoln and there is even a booster club which annually celebrates the old road. As a kid I rode the National Road, as we called it in Ohio, with my family. More of the road still exists behind the Safeway in South Lake Tahoe.
So 1451 is this sort of paved road descending to the gated community of Glenbrook. I say "sort of" because the years have had their way with the paving, although you can still see painted traffic lines at times. This was a two-lane highway and now it narrows and expands down to a one-lane as nature has brought down dirt and rocks from the towering slopes on one side and dirt and rocks have tumbled into the canyon on the other. Much of the road is covered by pine needles, and some larger rocks have tumbled onto the asphalt.
It's easy to imagine thousands of cars roaring down this highway, ending up at the gated community of Glenbrook. The grade is gentle, perhaps 6 or 7 degrees at most, with flat sections. And it's all downhill from the trail head until you reach the gated development. Which means there's a two-mile uphill section back. That's something to remember if you've young or older hikers along; it took this senior hiker about an hour and 15 minutes to reach the dead end going down, an hour and 30 minutes going back. In the past I've always liked going uphill better than down - easier on the knees - but here the downhill is more pleasant.
Views? There's lots of traffic on Highway 50 West across the deep canyon that separates the two roads. And as always, vistas of the mountains on all sides. Uphill it's pretty standard Sierra; downhill the dry creek bed suggests a spring torrent of water.
Along the road are trail markers up on tree trunks for snowshoers and cross country skiers. I hope to try the shoes this winter on the trail.
No side trails, although a canyon or two suggests bushwhacking fun. And there is a jumbled pile of rocks that might challenge rock hounds. But mostly this is a date with history and nature. The road is slowly decaying, although at one point the Forest Service has added a bulwark to stop erosion. This was transcontinental travel before and after World War II. As a Air Force second lieutenant I vaguely remember driving it as I was being transferred from Denver to Tokyo. But only vaguely.
No, not a demanding hike nor one that will offer the panorama of the Sierra. But one that shows that little we humans do can outlast nature over time.
SKI-BOARDING TIME COMING
The folks at Mt. Rose will open the new Slide Lodge this season
The glass facade of the lodge will bring the mountain into the facility, creating a special feel for what has been coined the "locals" side of Mt. Rose. Architects have designed a modern facility with a contemporary style probably the first of its kind in Lake Tahoe. On the southeastern-most edge of the Slide Bowl, the new building brings the valley architecture into the mountains.
The new Slide Lodge is 7,865 square feet and constructed mainly of glass and steel. The positioning of the new lodge provides improved traffic flow from the slopes to the lodge as well as to the Blazing Zephyr loading zone.
The new Slide Lodge will accommodate around 150 patrons inside and 400 people on the expansive outdoor deck.
View the construction process Web cam on www.skirose.com or call 849-0704 for more information.
Mt. Rose unrestricted season passes are on sale now. Purchase the 20 09/10 Pink Slip for $333.
• Contact Sam at 841-7818 or at email@example.com.