Nov 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm #1282230
I want to get into winter camping this year, and I am wondering if you had any recommendations for places to day hike in the snowy Sierras, preferably around the Tahoe area. I want to get out and snowshoe around and have some fun. Preferably places where navigation is relatively easy!Nov 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm #1803907
drowning in spamMember
It's further south, but Mammoth would be easy. You could drive up to the ski resort and snow shoe there or take the tram up and shoe in deeper snow.Nov 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm #1803925
There are lots of trails in the Tahoe region. Look up the Tahoe Rim Trail or Desolation Wilderness.Nov 20, 2011 at 11:06 pm #1803930
Are these trails navigatable (is that even a word?) in the winter? I am REALLY new to anything related to snow.
On another note, does anybody have recommendations for places to winter car camp? Some place where I can access my car and not risk getting the road snowed in. Doesn't have to be an actual camp site.Nov 20, 2011 at 11:27 pm #1803931
drowning in spamMember
I forgot that there are winter training groups that go out to Echo Lake. That area is very accessible by car, and the hike is very doable by snowshoe. As to the trails, you're not really going to be on it when the snow gets deep enough. In some places the slope is going to force you to change where you travel by snowshoe. That might merely mean cutting switchbacks, but could entail much more. In any case, it's probably best to plan and out and back route instead of a loop because if you can get out there, you can get back. It'd be rough to get most of the way around a loop to find that you can't do the last bit.Nov 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm #1803932
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"On another note, does anybody have recommendations for places to winter car camp?"
Sno-Parks run by Caltrans.
–B.G.–Nov 21, 2011 at 8:29 am #1804005
Jeremy and AngelaBPL Member
@requiemLocale: Northern California
PCT around the Donner Pass area; you can access the Sierra Club ski huts as well. There is a Sno-Park by Boreal where you can park. Heading north towards the Peter Grubb hut would be my suggestion; I think heading south is a bit more exposed/dangerous.
(You don't need to stay at the huts of course; but it's nice to know where they are, or to use them for warming.)Nov 21, 2011 at 10:03 am #1804026
I've had a nice time snowshoeing around Fallen Leaf Lake in the winter. It's generally flat around the lake, near the campground end. There's a big meadow nearby with some little creeklets passing through it that's a great easy place to get a feel for things.
If the road is cleared, folks park along Fallen Leaf Rd and use the surrounding area for sledding, snowshoeing, etc, if the road is not open, then you'd have to park along Hwy 89 and snowshoe a little farther to get near the lake.
I don't know if it's allowed or not, but I've often considered snowshoeing into the campground or surrounding area in the winter for a little snow camping getaway.
Sections of the TRT can also be fun. I've only snowshoed some of the sections near the Heavenly ski resort.Nov 21, 2011 at 10:18 am #1804032
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Good suggestions already. I'm familiar with several, and will add Loon lake off Highway 50 to the list. The road there is plowed and there are established trails as well as plenty of open country to wander.
Note that if you're coming from the west, it's much less hassle to stay on that side of the crest during ski season or when storms threaten. Getting back over the summit from the Tahoe basin can be a nightmare on any Sunday or when it's snowing. I like the idea of Fallin Leaf, though. It's a beautiful spot.
Further afield, they keep limited access to Lassen open in winter and that would be a spectacular destination.
[Edit] Forgot to mention Highway 88. Caples Lake and Carson Pass are fun areas in the snow.Nov 21, 2011 at 10:23 am #1804037
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Justin, though the Mammoth suggestion is cool, keep in mind it is an 8 hour drive from The Bay Area, You will need a snow pass to park your car overnight when doing trips. You can access the wilderness off of Hwy 4, 88, and 108. At Boreal ski resort you can head to Peter Grubb Hut. Also Yosemite has plenty of places to go along Glacier Point Rd. The most popular being Dewey Pt.Nov 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm #1804113
Elizabeth TracyBPL Member
In the North Tahoe/Donner area there are four (?) backcountry huts you can snowshoe into and stay in overnight. It is very cheap. I have never done it, but it's on my radar. Anyone know what the nicest hut/most scenic route to hut is?
Wilderness Press publishes a useful little book, "Snowshoe Trails Tahoe."
I have only gone snowshoeing twice up there, both times around Donner Pass area. Both times to be honest I was disappointed, even bored, with the scenery. Next time I think I'll pick a place at/near Lake Tahoe with good views of the lake. I look forward to some other commentary here regarding which places are both easily accessible and truly scenic.
And yes, you can park and camp for free (sleep in your car or stealth-camp in the woods) at most of the Cal Trans parking lots.
– ElizabethNov 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm #1804121
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Anyone know what the nicest hut/most scenic route to hut is?"
I've been to most of the North Tahoe huts on skis rather than snowshoes. Bunks in the huts operated by the Sierra Club can be reserved for a small fee.
Peter Grubb Hut is a short trail, but not terribly scenic. Benson Hut is a 6-mile route, rather steep, and the weather hits it badly. Fortunately, the scenery is nice. Bradley Hut is a moderate trail (unplowed jeep road) and is the most modern hut. Ludlow Hut is moderate (unplowed Jeep road for 75%).
"And yes, you can park and camp for free (sleep in your car or stealth-camp in the woods) at most of the Cal Trans parking lots."
Except that the Sno-Park lots are not free.
–B.G.–Nov 22, 2011 at 9:48 am #1804388
Fallen Leaf would still be my recommendation for an easy, first time out, but I've also done some snowshoeing up around Eagle Falls (park on Hwy near Emerald Bay) and trek out towards Eagle Lake or the Velma Lakes.
Another dayhike, sorta' thing that's fun, albeit steep (at times) is to park up along Donner Pass and hike up around Boreal Peak (I think) or out towards Azalea Lake. This can get a little more technical but we had fun doing this on one trip, just followed along nearby telemark tracks heading in the same direction. The area offers nice views over Donner Lake and some of the nearby lakes.Nov 22, 2011 at 10:41 am #1804407
Elizabeth TracyBPL Member
Fall Leaf Lake is a pretty area. Which car entrance are you talking about? What is the quality of the road (for non-4WD cars)? Which trailhead? My instinct would be to drive to the far west end of the lake (if drivable) and start hiking uphill on one of the singletrack trails that goes up into the Desolation Wilderness; but no idea how feasible that really is.
– ElizabethNov 22, 2011 at 11:28 am #1804433
The last two Springs, I've shoed into Upper Velma or Dicks Lake. A good haul for us older folks, really tough for the younger crowd. :) Three of us went last Spring, snow, wind at Dick's but we had a good time, just a few hundred feet below the lake out of most of the wind. I want to go to Azure next maybe. Eight of us went into Lake of the Woods area six years ago over Easter. Really nice weather while there.
DuaneNov 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm #1804462
Elizabeth, for Fallen Leaf, I was talking about parking along Fallen Leaf Rd (if it's plowed and open), otherwise, parking along Hwy 89 near the turn-off to Fallen Leaf Rd.
It seems that Fallen Leaf Rd is usually plowed up to around at least the entrance to Fallen Leaf Lake Campground, or a little ways past to about the end of the meadow along the road; it may be passable farther, not sure. It's not heavily maintained like the highway or the roads in South Lake though, so 4wd or tire chains might be good to have if you're going to venture farther up the road, as it gets icy. Anyway, lots of folks park around the beginning of the road and play in the snow right there by the highway.Nov 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm #1804466
Lisa FrugoliBPL Member
@alfrescoLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Loch Leven Lakes, off of 80, near Rainbow Lodge might be fun also. I was just there (in trail runners, tho). It's about 7 miles in to the first lake, then several other lakes about 1/2 mile apart. You have to cross some railroad tracks & I'm not sure what that's like in full snow.
Here's a link to some photos: http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/alfrescosf/6371898687/
Also, I live in Windsor, just up the road from you. PM me if you want some company. I'm new to winter camping as well. That was one of the reasons for the trip.
LisaNov 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm #1804617
Three of us drove up to the FS cabin by Loon Lake last winter, day after a good storm. The road was plowed, only a few cars up on top, a few more scattered along side the road on our way out Sunday. Try to hit the traffic the right direction on 50. Temps got into the single digits, but two of the guys dug in, I just brought my warm bag and dug down less than a foot for my tent. Give yourself an hour to get from 50 to the cabin. Along the road in, there are many spots to park and take off skiing or to a spot no one would camp by you. I have noticed a parking area that looks like it is plowed, just north a little ways of the Fallen Leaf turnoff but south of Bayview CG. That is an option I want to check out to see if that would give better access to Kalmia or Azure lakes.
Lassen VNP area out of Mineral is good. You can either pull off before getting into the Park and thus save the entrance fee, or pull up to the new Visitor Center with nice restrooms and park there, to either camp at the cg by the parking lot (and warm building) or hike in to your hearts content and set up. Our group has camped at the cg a few times and snow shoed in quite a few miles another time.
DuaneNov 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm #1804923
Thanks for all the suggestions guys! Now I just need to get some snowshoes and gaiters (I have been trolling ebay for a decent priced pair of traditionals).Nov 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm #1804983
I should have mentioned, a few I go bping with are in the Santa Rosa area or there about, one couple is even doing the Discovery Trail. About half a dozen or so. At least closer to you than me up in the mountains.
DuaneNov 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm #1805046
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