Fall color hikes abound along Tahoe Rim Trail
With winter bearing down on Lake Tahoe, now is the time to take in the last glimpses of spectacular fall colors across the region. Here are some of the best spots to take in the fall foliage along the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Remember that while the weather may look a certain way, this time of year is fickle and things can change very quickly. Dress in layers so that if it gets warm you can shed clothes. Also be prepared for thunder showers and cold, windy conditions going over passes and peaks.
Spooner Summit, accessible from Highway 50 on Highway 28, Lake Tahoe’s east shore, offers options for hikers and different areas to explore. If heading north on the Tahoe Rim Trail, hikers will want to descend toward Spooner Lake, as the section of the trail north of the summit won’t yield many changing aspens.
While circling Spooner Lake might be the best, and easiest bet, a six- or seven-mile out and back route south along the Rim Trail from the trailhead should provide hikers with a gorgeous fall hike.
North of Spooner Lake, Marlette is most easily accessible from parking near Chimney Beach a few miles south of Sand Harbor.
However, Marlette can be reached on the Rim Trail by hiking north from Spooner Summit.
While Marlette is harder to reach than Spooner, it is much bigger and rimmed by gentle open slopes providing an excellent environment for aspens.
Another excellent hike for fall colors is the section of the Rim Trail between Twin Peaks and Ward Creek. The best way to access this hike is to park at Barker Pass at the end of Blackwood Canyon. Take the Barker Pass Road just before Eagle Rock on the lake’s west shore. Also available would be parking in Ward Creek and hiking southwest, away from Page Meadows.
Either way hikers go on the Rim Trail from Ward Creek they are sure to find some breathtaking scenery.
Big Meadow rounds out the Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s list of fall color hikes. Located off of Highway 89 south of Tahoe, look for the Big Meadow trailhead south of Meyers.
With about a seven-mile out and back through Big Meadow to Dardanelles Lake, hikers would experience the quintessential fall hike, through aspens of all colors to a little Sierra Lake for a picnic and then back to the car and home in time for dinner.
Accessible from the Mount Rose Highway and partially visible from the road, Ophir Creek is largely a bicycle trail, but provides users with some great changing colors. Park along the road in the meadow near the top of Mount Rose and hike south on the Rim Trail into the woods. At the fork go left onto the Ophir Creek Trail which will stay along the creek and skirt the pine forest.
Located just south of Tahoe City and west of Sunnyside, Page Meadows is easily accessible either by hiking a longer stint south straight out of Tahoe City or driving out into Ward Creek from Pineland Drive and hitting the Rim Trail by way of a newly renovated section of trail directly off the road. From there take the Rim Trail north into the meadows.
With creeks feeding into Ward, there is plenty of water and plenty of aspens, this time of year color should be the name of the game.