Being an avid summer hiker and living in Truckee the past two years, I am constantly in awe at the endless trails and destinations to explore within the Sierra Nevada landscape. During the long summer days, there is a trail for everyone. Whether it’s summiting one of the tallest granite peaks in the basin, or a lush quiet meadow stroll bursting with native wildflowers, each adventure fills one’s heart with that soft warm summer sun I love Tahoe for so much.
Having grown up in the warm sunshine and salty beach waves of southern California, I felt giddy at the thought of putting on my mittens to embrace the first snowflakes of winter. While most mountain towns’ main attraction is the ski resort (Tahoe has seven), I was looking for a cozy activity that provided the quiet solitude of hiking while congruently being something that I can do with my friends and dogs of any experience level on a whim. Snowshoeing thus quickly grew to be one of my favorite winter sports to revel in the beauty of the forest, climb peaks for stunning vistas, and enjoy creating a magical memory with old and new friends from all sorts of backgrounds.
If you are visiting Tahoe and in search of a unique snowshoe hike that is immersed in mountainous beauty to share with your friends or family I have listed my favorite three that never fail to leave me overjoyed and feeling alive.
As you wind through the forest and approach the summit of Mount Rose from Lake Tahoe, you will meet a grandiose field full of leafless red willow shrubs. Although this initial clearing of trees may look similar to other wintry meadows in Tahoe, this one is particularly unique and special. As you snowshoe this Tahoe trail through the meadow and meet the tree line, you will begin to hear the distinct melody of grey plump adorable Chickadee birds flying from pine tree to pine tree. What makes this snowshoe hike so exciting to bring friends along with is the bond you can create with specific place that is Chickadee Ridge. Bring your birdseed to gently place your hand towards the branches to await a brave little Chickadee bird to perch onto your fingertips. If you wish to continue through the woods, you will again ascend upwards and meet a tree clearing with some of the most spectacular views of Tahoe from above.
For those of you who are history enthusiasts, Donner Pass is a historic rite of passage for anyone visiting the Truckee Tahoe Area. It is a snowshoeing trail in Tahoe that coincides with a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, and is the grounds in which much of the family of the unfortunately fated Donner Party was unable to survive the grueling and harsh winter conditions of 1846. Along with its rich history, are breathtaking 360-degree views of Donner Lake and Castle Peak as you ascend to the top of the ridge. Although this hike in winter is more challenging than the others, the lichened colored granite and vistas will create a profound memory within, while also providing appreciate for how Natives and Western Settlers survived such dramatic and humbling landscapes.
Approximately thirty extra minutes South of the Tahoe Basin, this snowshoe trail in Tahoe is likely my most coveted. Not only does its name ‘Hope Valley’ already bring joy to one’s heart, but this narrow and expansive valley can take you on an endless peaceful journey along the West Fork Carson River. Unlike the other hikes that have a best route to the top for the best vistas, Hope Valley allows you to be creative and blaze your own path. Whether you hug the river or venture towards the naked aspen trees, it is a relaxing flat valley where you can bring a group of your closest friends, your furry friends, and some lunch to revel in the 360 views of the Sierra Mountains that appear as guardians over the valley.