Hoofing to Meiss Lake | NevadaAppeal.com

Hoofing to Meiss Lake

Sam Bauman
Nevada Appeal Contributor

One of the pleasures of hiking the Sierra Nevada is going back to a trail that you haven’t trod for several years.

I first visisted Meiss Lake several years ago with Karen and Bob Ostrow of Stateline and Robin and David Rittenhouse of South Tahoe. Many cows there back then so the ponds were pretty polluted. This time I decided to try it alone and see if it lived up to pleasant memories. Happily, it did.

To get to the trailhead take Highway 88 out of Minden toward Kirkwood. You’ll pass Red Lake on the left en route and then the Carson Pass parking lot, always almost full, even with the repairs going on at Caples Lake dam. Parking for Meiss is about two-tenths of a mile past Carson Pass on the right and there’s a parking fee. Horses are common on this trail so there will be horse trailers in the lot.

Trailhead is to the west of the lot and is clearly marked. It’s single track uphill and leads on a traverse through light woods of white pine, junipers, lodgepole pines and wildflowers in season, but not now. Soon you’ll head north and the trail emerges from the forest. You’ll head for a saddle about a mile and a half from the trailhead. From there you’ll see some of the kings of the Sierra ” Fourth of July Peak (haven’t been there for a while, it’s farther than it looks), Elephant’s Back, Thimble Peak over toward Kirkwood and Sisters and Round Top. Now it’s downhill. This is not a rocky trail, mostly decomposed granite.

You’ll be on pretty level terrain now (and no cows this time as there were in the past) on part of the Pacific Creast Trail. Last time here there were some small streams trickling away but none noted this time. Some awesome trees here, some with six-foot diameter trunks. This area was not logged in the Comstock days so there are some pretty old big trees here.You pick up an old Jeep road and pass a couple of closed and shuttered cabins left over from when this was cattle country before grazing at Meiss Meadows was ended. They are in good shape and are often used by hiking groups for overnighters. This is one big meadow.

Soon you”ll come to a junction with the Tahoe Rim Trail. Take the left fork and cross what’s left of the Upper Truckee River. The bogginess that I remember from the past seems to be missing now.

About a half- or three-quarters mile on, look for faint trails on the right (northeast) heading into brush. Bushwhack a bit and at about 250 yards in you’ll come to a damp area with Meiss Lake dead ahead. Try to stay on the high, dry ground. The easterm side of the lake is largely bordered by marsh and water plants. There are many higher rocky outcrops around the lake, which in its pristine setting is one of the prettiest I’ve seen ” but too much foliage for a dip. It’s a shallow lake as well and you can wade around most of it.

This is one of those hiking times when a long, quiet pause is in order for contemplating long thoughts, like this election. I had a guidebook to Sierra wildflowers along but it wasn’t much use, but I did manage to down a small flask of red wine I had toted along. I also had some Wisconsin brie and some crackers so I munched on those while sitting on the rocks. (Wisconsin brie is better than imported French because it doesn’t have to go through the pasturization processes the French stuff does so the flavor holds up. Don’t tell that to the French or your favorite cheese shop.).

Get back to the trail and head for Showers Lake, another half-mile ahead. This gets a bit steep here but there are some nice camping sites (backcountry, of course). At the top of a crest there’s a junction where trails cross, with one headed southwest toward the Schneider Cow Camp. But that’s another hike and besides you’ve done a little more than 5 miles and there’s all that trail going back. (That’s the new knee talking.) If you want a map get the USGS 7.5 minute Carson Pass Caples Lake, but you really don’t need it. Not a lot of folk make the detour to Meiss Lake, so you’ll have plenty of privacy.


North Lake Tahoe Resort Association is sponsoring Learn to Ski & Ride Days at Diamond Peak and other mountian resorts December 13-14. First timers can get a ticket, a lesson, and rentals for only $25. That’s a real deal and part of the industry to lure more people to the slopes. Biggest problem with skiing-boarding is getting people to actually try the snowsports. Riding comes quick, one lesson and you can get out on your own and enjoy. Skiing takes a little longer, getting those two things to stay in line, but the bother is worth the effort.

The first-time beginner package at Diamond Peak usually costs $81 for a one hour, 45 minute lesson, rental equipment and a lift ticket, but during Learn to Ski & Ride Days get all of this for only $25.

Reservations are not required. This package is designed for first time skiers or snowboarders only.

Diamond Peak Base Lodge Grand Opening is December 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. Enjoy appetizers, live music, a passport tour of the lodge.

Diamond Peak is at 1210 Ski Way in Incline Village and set to open December 11. Call 832-1177.


Anxious skiers and snowboarders will take over Murphy’s Irish Pub in South Tahoe November 13 to hoot, holler, rap, yodel, chant and sing during the snow calling contest at Sierra Resort’s annual Pray For Snow pre-season bash.

The legendary winter kickoff extravaganza begins at 6 p.m. at Murphy’s Irish Pub on Emerald Bay Road. It’s passholders only for the first hour. Doors open to the public at 7 p.m.

 A D.J. will be spinning tunes from inside the bar while Sierra Resort’s mini skate ramp will be set up on the back patio for anyone who wants to try a session. The contests, including Show Us Your Ink, Frozen T-shirt, Cross Dress for Success, and, of course, the main event ” snow calling ” will begin at 8 p.m.

Sierra Resort Elite Team Riders will join RSN host Todd Offenbacher to judge the various contests. Snow calling contestants are judged on volume, audience participation and creativity. Prizes will be given away all night long and will include a season pass, lift tickets, gear from Flow and Sessions, and gift certificates from business around South Lake Tahoe.

John Rice, snowboardering general manager of Sierra Resort, will once again enter the snow calling contest. Following up last season’s rendition of SnowMaker Boy (set to the tune of Crank That (Soulja Boy) will be tough, but Rice is a veteran of the snow calling contest.