Afoot and Afield Tahoe-Reno 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region  by Mike White

Afoot & Afield: Tahoe-Reno: 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region Guide Book

by Mike White (Wilderness Press)
Afoot and Afield Tahoe-Reno 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region  by Mike White
Ever since the Wild West days of Kit Carson and the Comstock Lode, visitors have been drawn to Reno-Tahoe in search of adventure. Today, the best adventures are found outdoors, where hikers can take lakeside strolls, mountain ascents, or simple walks with the dogs and kids. Afoot & Afield Reno-Tahoe, by Reno local Mike White, features more than 200 trips in a diverse range of terrain around Lake Tahoe and the communities of Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and Minden-Gardnerville. These trips are tailored for every type of hiker, and many are suited for mountain bikers. Routes range from less than a mile to an 18-mile point-to-point challenge from Tahoe Meadows to Brockway Summit.

© 2016 Mike White/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Afoot & Afield: Tahoe-Reno: 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 201.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 201.

The 9-mile journey from Alpine Meadows to Twin Peaks is a rigorous undertaking by anyone’s standards, but the incomparable views from the ridgecrest section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT ) and the Twin Peaks summit are hard to beat. The trade-off for such magnificent scenery is a 2-mile climb from Alpine Meadows to the Five Lakes basin, followed by another, almost-2-mile, switchbacking climb to the Sierra crest. Once the crest is gained, the hiking is much less difficult and the marvelous views are nearly unremitting.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 18
Freel Peak, at 10,881 feet, is the Tahoe Basin’s highest peak. Maintained trail will get you to within a mile and 1100 feet of the summit, where a boot-beaten use trail can be followed the rest of the way. The route is straightforward, not requiring any mountaineering skills other than the stamina necessary to complete the ascent (unless lingering snowfields are still present). Successful summiteers will enjoy a far-ranging view on clear days, from Lassen Peak in the north to Yosemite-area peaks in the south. Along with Freel Peak, peak baggers can relatively easily add Jobs Sister (10,823 feet) and Jobs Peak (10,633 feet) to their resumes, the second- and fourth-highest Tahoe peaks respectively. Nearby Star Lake would make an excellent base camp for a weekend or longer adventure.
Hope Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
After climbing to Armstrong Pass, this trip follows a ridgecrest section of the Tahoe Rim Trail to Hell Hole Viewpoint. Along the way are partial views of Lake Tahoe and full views of Hope Valley and the peaks of the Carson Pass region. There are no facilities at the trailhead. Undeveloped campsites may be available near Horse Meadows. The trail begins down the closed road.
Hope Valley, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 8
This trip leads to Star Lake, one of the Tahoe basin’s highest lakes. After a mile-long climb to Armstrong Pass, a lightly used section of the Tahoe Rim Trail takes you the rest of the way to the lake. Backdropped by the volcanic slopes of rugged Jobs Sister, the lake’s setting is quite picturesque, luring both dayhikers and backpackers to the serene shores. The high elevation of Star Lake ensures chilly swimming throughout the season, but the relatively warmer temperatures from mid-July through August will make the possibility of a lake dip seem a bit more palatable. Although cooler temperatures prevail in autumn, you’ll find much less traffic on the trail.
Hope Valley, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 12
After years of sometimes-bitter controversy and eventual compromise, the completion of the long (2-mile) and short (0.5-mile) loops comprising the Ballardini Ranch Trail, along with corresponding trailhead improvements, was completed in 2014. The full 2.5-mile route travels across sagebrush scrub typical of the Carson Range foothills, with brief forays to riparian areas along tributaries of Dry Creek. Fine views of the surrounding countryside, including the Carson and Virginia Ranges, and a good portion of the Truckee Meadows, are available along the way. Without any shade, hikers will find the best conditions in the cooler seasons of spring and fall. Summer visitors should plan on hiking very early in the day. Proposed plans are to one day have a connection from the Ballardini Loop to the Thomas Creek Trail.
Reno, NV - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.5
Above the west shore of Lake Tahoe is a wedge of land between Granite Chief Wilderness to the north and Desolation Wilderness to the south that is primarily the domain of off-highway vehicles. This trip uses a section of the Pacific Crest and Tahoe Rim trails to pass through this region on a nonmotorized, mostly forested romp between Barker Pass and forest- rimmed Richardson Lake. Several flower-lined streams and small meadows provide diversions along the way.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.2
This 10.5-mile semi-loop trip through the heart of the Desolation Wilderness samples several cirque-bound lakes amid the characteristic granite terrain that makes the area so picturesque. Whether you’re just out for the day or on an overnight backpack, the lakes provide great scenery, along with fine swimming and fishing opportunities. Desolation’s backcountry usually frees itself from snow by mid-July and wildflowers bloom from then until late August, when swimmers will find the water in the lakes to be the least chilly.
Meeks Bay, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Trail Running - Trail Length: 10.5
A short loop trail with minimal elevation gain visits several picturesque lakes within the Lakes Basin Recreation Area, including Silver, Big Bear, Little Bear, and Cub lakes. Hot summer days will lure swimmers into the refreshing waters, and anglers can test their skills on the resident trout. Relics near Round Lake provide a historical glimpse into the mining activity of the past. There are no facilities at the trailhead. Gold Lake Lodge is just a short distance from the trailhead, offering rustic cabins for rent during the summer months with meals included. Nonguests can purchase breakfasts or dinners in the cozy dining room. Call 530-836-2350 or visit for more information.
Graeagle, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
Although it’s located in the popular Lake Tahoe region, Granite Chief Wilderness is extremely lightly used compared with other areas around the lake, particularly the popular Desolation Wilderness to the south. Instead of permits and quotas, backpackers will experience deep forests, rushing streams, seasonal wildflowers, excellent views, and a definite lack of fellow humans. This trip follows a pair of delightful streams to Bear Pen, a secluded basin rimmed by granite cliffs on the eastern fringe of the wilderness.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.5
Although the distance is short, this trip requires navigating along a mostly cross-country route to the base of some summit rocks, and some basic climbing skills from there are required to reach the top of Becker Peak. Once atop the tiny aerie, successful summiteers are treated to dramatic views straight down to Echo Lakes and more distant vistas of the stunning topography at the south end of Lake Tahoe.
Echo Lake, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
With arrangements for a shuttle, a 10.5-mile trip travels through the heart of the proposed 31,100-acre Meiss Meadow Wilderness. Following sections of the Tahoe Rim and Pacific Crest trails, recreationists can travel from Highway 89 to Highway 88, visiting Big Meadows, Round Lake, and Meiss Meadows along the way. An optional 1.3-mile side trip to scenic Dardanelles Lake provides a fine diversion. Peak baggers with extra time and energy could accept the challenge of climbing Red Lake Peak from a saddle, 1.2 miles northwest of the Meiss Meadow Trailhead. The peak is known for a bit of history, as John C. Fremont and Charles Pruess reached the summit on Valentine’s Day in 1844 and made the first sighting of Lake Tahoe by Europeans.
Hope Valley, CA - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Trail Running - Trail Length: 10.5
Dardanelles Lake is a scenic lake backdropped by impressive granodiorite cliffs that offers decent fishing and relatively warm water for swimming. Far enough off the thoroughfare of the Tahoe Rim Trail, hikers should be able to enjoy some relative seclusion at this lake. The lakeshore is shaded by light forest and dotted with boulders and slabs, and the picturesque cliffs of the Dardanelles loom above the south shore.
Hope Valley, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 8
Hikers who have been searching for an off-the-beaten-path route into the Mt. Rose Wilderness should look no farther than the unmaintained trail up Black’s Canyon. The path is infrequently used and seemingly few even know of its existence. The trail has several steep sections, parts are washed out, and the tread virtually disappears in spots. Despite these drawbacks, experienced hikers will have excellent views of Mt. Rose along the way, as well as a high likelihood for bountiful amounts of solitude. Cross-country enthusiasts have the option of continuing beyond the end of the trail all the way to the summit of Mt. Rose via Contact Pass.
Reno, NV - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
An easy semiloop trip awaits hikers of all ages and conditioning in the nearly flat area on the south side of Blackwood Creek. The short trip offers opportunities to wander over to the lazy creek, where hikers could enjoy a picnic lunch or while away the hours skipping rocks across the surface. Early-season visitors will enjoy a nice display of wildflowers along the banks of the creek and numerous side streams.
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3
Although the trail to Bronco Creek shares the route of the Mt. Rose Trail for the first 2.5 miles, the remainder is the antithesis to the much more heavily used trail to the summit, as described in the previous trip. If hundreds travel along the Mt. Rose Trail each summer weekend day, you may have to wait a decade or more to see that many souls along the path to Bronco Creek. Rather than excellent views from the summit of Mt. Rose, this trip offers excellent views of the summit from 2000 feet below. Primitive campsites along Bronco Creek will lure backpackers in search of an overnight haven away from the crowds.
Reno, NV - Hiking - Trail Length: 11
In spring, Browns Creek Trail offers hikers an opportunity to explore the lower forest of the Carson Range when the higher elevations may still be covered in snow. Early season also catches perennial Browns Creek and its seasonal south branch at peak flows, and offers the chance to enjoy the scattered wildflowers as well. At any time of the hiking season, the semi-loop trail offers sweeping vistas that include Pleasant and Washoe Valleys back dropped by the Virginia Range. A trail branching away from the southernmost part of the loop provides access to forest service land for those interested in extending the hike.
Reno, NV - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 4.9
A pleasant forest walk with minimal elevation gain in Burton Creek State Park, this delightful morning or afternoon excursion should be a crowd pleaser. But there’s no prominent signage, so the slightly obscure locale remains relatively undiscovered, promising an uncrowded and serene hiking experience. Numerous side trails come and go along this route, providing an array of options for trip extensions and alternate starting points. Make sure you pack the CSP Burton Creek State Park brochure map, as the intersecting trails and roads can be quite confusing at times. You can download it from the park web page; just click on “Brochures.”
Tahoe City, CA - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6.5
Sweeping views and bountiful wildflowers will lure strong hikers who don’t mind the ups and downs of this section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Forestdale Divide isn’t much of a destination, but the intervening scenery and botany along the trail will satisfy photographers and amateur naturalists alike. By driving a second vehicle on the Forestdale Divide Road from Red Lake and leaving it at the informal trailhead on Forestdale Divide, you could avoid having to backtrack the 5.1 miles to Carson Pass.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.2
Backpackers who don’t mind regaining lost elevation will appreciate this trip through the northeast section of the Mokelumne Wilderness, experiencing several ponds and lakes, wildflower-covered slopes, sweeping vistas, and a deep canyon along the way.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 11
During the height of snowmelt, Cascade Falls is a turbulent display of raucous watery splendor tumbling 200 feet down a granite cliff into Cascade Lake. The maintained trail Southwest Tahoe 161 Southwest Tahoe ends before the falls, requiring that hikers scramble over granite slabs and boulders to reach the brink of the falls, where adults should keep a watchful eye on children at all times. Above the falls are several delightful picnic spots near swirling pools and cascades, along appropriately named Cascade Creek.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5