Summer in Tahoe

An archive of blog posts on things to see and do in Lake Tahoe. Book with Hauserman Rental Group today for the perfect getaway!

By Tim Hauserman 

North Lake Tahoe has an elaborate and inspiring network of hiking and mountain biking trails. And that network has been expanding, especially with new trails that are designed specifically for mountain biking. And guess what, those new trails do not appear by magic. They are built, mostly by volunteer labor, by the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) and other organizations like the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.  You can join in the effort by contributing your labor at a volunteer trail day sponsored by TAMBA. It’s very rewarding to actually create the trail that you soon will be able to ride. And as John Clausen from TAMBA says, “We cannot make this fun stuff happen without you.” 

TAMBA has two trail days coming this weekend on the north shore of Tahoe: 

Saturday, Aug. 24th, Tahoe City, Stumpy Super G

Sunday, Aug. 25th, Westshore, Stanford Rock

Bring long pants, long sleeve shirt, helmet (bike helmet okay), full finger gloves, glasses, and sturdy shoes. Pack along water & snacks, and any other needs for your particulars. So if you are riding in, bring a backpack with whatever you need. 

Here’s the scoop about the trail work directly from TAMBA: 

STUMPY SUPER G 

Saturday, Aug. 24th

We have 2 off-line booters and a couple other fun factor features to construct on segment 1, as well as cutting in the tread on the beginning of segment 2. Come out for a couple of hours, or come out for the day and enjoy lunch on TAMBA (RSVP by 10am Friday if you wish to be included on the lunch order – super eats from Dam Cafe, Syd’s Bagelery, Westshore  Market, The Station – A Truckee Eatery, Front Street Pizza, and New Moon Deli). RSVP to johnnyxride@gmail.com. or text 530-386-0944.

Meet in Tahoe City, at either: 

The TCPUD parking lot across from the Tahoe City Fire Dept, 221 Fairview Dr., 8:30am, to carpool up the 4wd dirt road. 

The Stumpy DH/Meadow trail if you prefer to MTB in, anytime between 9:00am and 2:00pm (we pack up at 4:00pm)

Those dates don’t work for you? How about these:

Sept. 5th, Thurs.

Sept. 14th, Sat.

Sept. 20th, Fri.

Sept. 26th, Thurs.

Oct. 11th, Fri.

Oct. 17th, Thurs.

The Stumpy Super G is near Stump Meadow or the top of Gold Trail for you nordic skiers. It will replace a very steep straight up and down trail with an awesome flowing switchbacky one. Here’s a map of where to go: 

STANFORD ROCK TRAIL

“BIG TRAIL DAY” Sunday Aug. 25th, 9am-1pm.

At this Stanford Big Trail Day, TAMBA will be providing lunch and beer afterward in Kilner Park

Work will be near the bottom of the trail and is part of a nearly top-to-bottom single track re-route of this heritage west shore route which has been located on a steep, dirt road. 

Meet – West shore, Stanford Rock Trail; lunch afterward in Kilner Park. Questions and/or RSVP-  sandor@tamba.org, Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association on Facebook or txt to 415-686-1172

You could also get out with the Tahoe Rim Trail Association in September to fix a few challenging sections for riders up in Ward Canyon.  To volunteer on those dates, register with the TRTA at tahoerimtrail.org. 

Sept 5, Thurs.

Sept 7, Sat.

Sept 12, Thurs.

Sept 14, Sat.

If you have never worked on creating trail, give it a go. It’s hard work, but there is always a great spirit of camaraderie and most importantly satisfaction with creating something that folks will love. 

by Tim Hauserman 

While we are often treated to the same wildflowers and flowering plants year after year in the same location, other flowers seem to mostly disappear one year, and then come out in wild profusion the next year once the perfect amount of rain and snow appear the winter before. Two plants that I’ve noticed are having a very good year are Yarrow in Page Meadows, and Pine Drops all over the Tahoe woods. 

Wildflower season in Page Meadows on Tahoe’s west shore often means purple, orange or red flowers, but when I recently I took a ride through the meadows I noticed that this year the dominant color was bright white. Most of the meadows were covered in a wave of white yarrow. On a windy day it’s a wave of white.  

Yarrow can grow up to 3 feet tall, but usually in the Tahoe region they are more like a foot. They have bright white clusters of flowers and have a fernlike, lacy appearance. 

This also seems to be the summer of the pine drops. This tall narrow reddish brown curiosity of a plant must like those wet winters because they seem to be everywhere, growing fast and tall. I’ve got a half dozen that just sprouted together in my back yard, and within a few weeks they are over three feet tall. Next time you head out into the deep woods, keep your eyes open for them.

Perhaps pine drops got their name because they are commonly found in the pine forest. This is because the plant has just a bit of chlorophyll and instead gets its energy from a type of mycorrhizal fungi primarily associated with pine trees. The reddish-yellow stalks reach straight up, with small urn shaped flowers along the stalk. Following flowering the stalk gets darker, becomes brownish-black and stiff, almost wooden. The stalks can stay standing long after they appear dead. 

What flower have you seen that is particularly prolific this year? Get out there and find out. 

By Tim Hauserman 

River Rafting from Tahoe City To River Ranch is on again! The flow from Lake Tahoe’s dam into the Truckee River increased to over 200 cubic feet per second on July 25th…the sweet spot allowing the commercial rafting companies to begin operating again. And a chance for me to repeat my annual summer ritual of floating down the river courtesy of Mountain Air Sports Truckee River Rafting, home of the yellow paddles. 

There is nothing that says summer in Tahoe like a float down the four miles of the Truckee River from just below Fanny Bridge to River Ranch. Walk into just about any house in Tahoe and you are bound to see a photo on the wall of smiling folks sitting in a blue raft on the Truckee holding paddles. The reason is simple, floating down the Truckee is both relaxing and stimulating.

Even a busy day on the river is an escape from the crowds as you enjoy the peacefulness of flowing water, gazing up at the stunning beauty of the high Truckee River canyon ridge of volcanic rock coated in thick coats of green brush, and of course, a lot of swimming alongside the raft on the slow sections. 

When I was in high school in the mid 1970s Jennifer Bell joined our class at North Tahoe High School. Her family was involved in what would become one of the two rafting companies in Tahoe City. I remember during our senior year at NTHS, which was during a drought year, our senior ditch day was floating on Mountain Air Sports rafts. We had to start down stream of Squaw Valley where there was enough water to float. 

There is no such thing as an average winter at Lake Tahoe, so the rafting business is the ultimate boom or bust endeavor at Tahoe. Sometimes you get to raft all summer, sometimes you don’t get to raft at all, and sometimes you get the call that there will be enough water to start rafting the next day…and you have to instantly assemble the huge grew and begin operations within a few hours.  

Despite all that, if you stop by the Truckee River Rafting green and yellow awning, you will find Jennifer, now Courcier, and her husband and brother directing traffic in the parking lot, and their daughter Lexie at the water front directing you to which boat to jump into. 

Rafting is not only a family affair for all the families who enjoy rafting, but for the company that makes it possible for you to float downstream. Sign up at truckeeriverrafting.com

 

By Tim Hauserman 

The East Shore Trail opened between Tunnel Creek Cafe at the outskirts of Incline Village and Sand Harbor State Park at the end of June. The three mile trail for bikers, walkers and runners was a multi year, multi million dollar effort to create a unique pathway along the rocky and narrow shoreline between Highway 28 and Lake Tahoe. To protect the fragile ecosystem it includes a number of bridges, including an 810’ one that is the longest bridge in the Lake Tahoe area. There is also a tunnel under Highway 28, restrooms, bike repair stations and bike racks at key access points to the lake. 

A primary goal for the trail was to allow people the opportunity to ride or walk on a paved trail between Incline and Sand Harbor, alleviating the perpetual parking problem at one of Tahoe’s most popular beaches. A series of parking lots along Highway 28 in front of Tunnel Creek provide access to the trail. The entry fee into Sand Harbor is only $2 for pedestrian/bike access. 

But I discovered the trail has two other prime benefits: First, it provides stunning vistas on the entire route, and so in this case, it really is about the journey as well as the destination.  Second, the trail provides fairly quick and fun access to some great Lake Tahoe beaches, that while still popular may be bit less busy because you have to walk or ride to them.

 

On my way to my biweekly trip to Carson City to fill up the gas tank and hit up Trader Joe’s,  I parked at the Tunnel Creek Station Parking lot. I got there a bit after nine and the lots were almost full…so don’t dilly dally.  I walked 1.3 miles from my car to Hidden Beach in about 25 minutes. There is a steady climb at the beginning, followed by a descent to the lake, and all of it a big view fest. I switched into my suit in the restroom and was floating in Tahoe’s luscious water over granite islands before 10 am. 

My plan was for a quick swim and then head on my way…but it was so nice i couldn’t resist going back in a second time. The water is crystal clear, finally warm, and if you get there early enough quite peaceful, although I will say, Hidden Beach is no longer Hidden. When I left about 10:45 the crowds were starting to arrive, reminding me once again that when it comes to the fun stuff at Tahoe in the summer: Get there early! 

 

By Tim Hauserman 

Lake Tahoe is a busy place in the summer. It makes sense, we have great weather,  beautiful mountains and sparkling alpine lakes, In July, especially after the winter we just had, the world around us is one big blaze of color from the wildflowers that are truly going wild. But the most popular hiking trails are big attractants for all those folks who came to Tahoe to play. So if you hike you will find beauty, but not necessarily solitude. 

If you want to get your feet on the dirt, but are ready to find a bit of alone time, the key is to take a step back and remember when you were a kid and used to play opposite day. You know the most popular hiking trails in Tahoe? Don’t do those. Find a dirt road that peters out and lets you bushwhack away from reality. It’s summer, hike on a ski run. Away from the best known lakes, away from the most populous neighborhoods. Find the road or trail less traveled. 

Recently we went on an incredible two mile hike from a residential neighborhood. We started out on a dirt road, then meandered our way up through the wildflowers and giant western white pines. We stopped for distant views of water, before conquering a challenging creek crossing through thick patches of willow trees. 

Scratched, but unbowed on the other side, we climbed up a steep slope to a flat which was the base for six different cascades rushing down from the snow fields above. We made our way up what looked like an avalanche path from last winter to the bottom of one of the cascades and the edge of the snow.

From there we pondered life as we enjoyed the 360 degree views. We were the only folks within at least a mile of that location. And while it was not quiet: there was the steady meditative chorus of the rushing water above us, it was all nature’s sound. A break from humanity, which we all need now and then. Especially in July. 

Where was this little bit of shangra la? Sorry, no can tell. But find your own piece of quiet heaven. It’s probably hiding in plain sight just around the corner from your house. And to truly enjoy it, look for the subtle beauty of nature instead of the perfect Instagram photo. Enjoy. 

By Tim Hauserman 

On July 9th I made the very good decision to attend my first Bluesdays Tuesday of the summer at the Village at Squaw Valley. The only thing that made me unhappy was that I realized that I blew it by not getting there earlier. There is something about spending a Sierra evening with a group of happy folks listening to outrageous blues guitar licks to make you feel alive. Especially, when Christone Ingram, known as Kingfish, was the guy pounding out those guitar licks. 

Kingfish is a 20 year old from Clarksdale, Mississippi. He’s been playing for about 5 years and it sounds absolutely amazing how he can make a guitar sing. Especially when he is not even old enough to legally drink. One of his songs, “Been here before,” is based on his grandmother’s declaration that Kingfish is an old soul, and that certainly appeared to be the case.  This guy can play the Blues! One highlight was when he sauntered through the crowd for about 10 minutes playing some mean guitar the whole way. He just came out with his first album a few months ago. I purchased it at the show, and can’t stop listening to it. 

Kingfish is the first of a summer long lineup of Bluesdays shows until September 3rd. If you haven’t attended a Bluesdays, you are missing out on a true highlight of the summer. The shows go from 6-8 Pm every Tuesday, and feature top notch blues talent. At first it is pretty astounding how great the talent is that they have been able to come up with for these shows, but then you remember: Hey musicians are just like everyone else, they want to spend some time in Tahoe in the summer!

There is several different food and drink vendors to take care of any hankerings you have at the show, but what makes these events great is the relaxed vibe. The place is packed, especially right in front of the stage, and everyone is gently rocking to the beat. Sure folks are here to feel the music, but they are also here because they want to be outside in the mountains in July. See you out there!

Here’s some upcoming shows:

July 16 Danielle Nicole

July 23 Coco Montoya

July 30 Chris Cain 

August 6 Sugaray Rayford

August 13 Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers

August 20 Dennis Joes Band

August 27 Honey Island Swamp Bankd

September 3  Papy Chubby. 

By Tim Hauserman 

Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area is well known for its extensive network of cross country ski trails in the winter. But it’s also a great place to head to in the summer. The Tahoe XC lodge becomes a mountain bike rental hub to explore all those great trails, and the ski area’s yurt is home base for the Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships Explorers Camps.

Tahoe XC Mountain Biking 

At the lodge Tahoe XC provides Giant mountain bike rentals for adults and kids from the Tahoe XC lodge. It’s the only place in the region where you can rent your bikes and be on the dirt in about 30 seconds. And not just any dirt, you will be riding to your heart’s content on trails good for every ability level from gentle dirt roads, to awesome single tracks with views of Lake Tahoe. Several new trails have been built in the area in the last few years by the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association including Ocelot (my favorite) and the Lakeview Ridge Trail. And right now the yellow mules ears and purple squaw carpet flowers are going off. 

The lodge is open Thursday-Monday from 9-4 pm. There is a quick fix/maintenance station at the lodge, a retail store with gear and apparel, and snacks and drinks available to quench that after ride thirst. 

Adult Mountain Bike Rental Rates. 

All day $60

Hourly $15

Youth Rental

All Day $40

Hourly $10

In addition to the Tahoe XC lodge and yurt, there are also Junior Mountain Rider programs and Devo Team training available. For more information go to tahoexc.org. 

SWEP Junior Explorers Camp

The Sierra Watershed Education Partnership runs the Winter Discovery Center science programs for school kids out of Tahoe XC’s yurt in the winter. Now, SWEP is giving kids a summer opportunity to learn about the environment through science, games, art, writing and exploring the network of trails with their Junior Explorers Camp. It will be fun for both body and mind. Two four day sessions will take place in July. Register by July 1st and spots are limited. The sessions are July 8 through the 11th for 6 to 8 year olds, and July 15-18th for 9 to 12 year olds. 

For information or to sign up go to 4swep.org 

by Tim Hauserman 

Those of us who love Lake Tahoe are always trying to come up with another way to immerse ourselves in the lake’s beauty. The folks at Tahoe Adventure Company have come up with a really good one: An evening kayak to catch the sunset over the lake, followed up by the rising of the full moon over the water. How cool is that? 

The paddle sets out from Tahoe Vista and lasts about two hours before returning to the shore for drinks, snacks and more moon gazing on the beach. All your kayaking gear is included and knowledgeable guides will pass on all sorts of interesting Tahoe trivia and tidbits as you slowly paddle your way across the water. 

“You get a unique perspective of the area from a kayak. Once we get out on the water, we’re away from all the crowds and immersed in the lake environment. It is a great experience,” says Kevin Hickey, Owner of Tahoe Adventure Company.

Last summer I joined one of the full moon paddles so I could write an article about the experience. Ah, the trials and tribulations of being a journalist. It was a wonderful evening. The group of other paddlers were mostly first timers to Tahoe and they really enjoyed learned about the lake from the guides. It was so relaxing being out on the water on a calm evening watching the changing colors of the lake as the sun set. Then on the way back, right on cue, the moon rose over the high ridge above Tahoe’s east shore. It was truly magnificent, even for this guy who gets to see Tahoe every day.  

Here is the schedule of tours this summer: 

2019 Full Moon Adventures:

Sunday, June 16th ~ Night Before the Full Strawberry Moon ~ 6:30pm-9:30pm

Monday, June 17th ~ Full Strawberry Moon ~ 7:00pm-10:00pm

Monday, July 15th ~ Night Before the Full Buck Moon ~ 6:30pm-9:30pm

Tuesday, July 16th ~ Full Buck Moon ~ 7:00pm-10:00pm

Wednesday, August 14th ~ Night Before the Full Sturgeon Moon ~ 6:30pm-9:30pm

Thursday, August 15th ~ Full Sturgeon Moon ~ 7:00pm-10:00pm

Friday, September 13th ~ Full Harvest Moon ~ 6:00pm-9:00pm

Sunday, October 13th ~ Full Hunter’s Moon (HIKE) ~ 5:00pm-8:00pm

 

Cost: $65 per person

 Tahoe Adventure Company or call 530-913-9212.

By Tim Hauserman 

One of my go to early summer wildflower hikes is the Sagehen Creek hike north of Truckee. The Sagehen Trail is an easy five mile out and back to the edge of Stampede Reservoir, with several meadows full of camas lillies, buttercups and shooting stars. At 5900 feet this trail emerges from the snow a lot earlier than most trails around the region, so it is a good option for a year like this after a big winter. 

The Sagehen Creek trail is located about 8 miles north of Truckee on Highway 89. After passing Hobart Mills Road, start keeping your eyes peeled. The trailhead is on the right side at the bottom of a big dip, just past the road’s crossing of Sagehen Creek. The dirt parking lot is quite small. If full, head about another 50 yards for more parking on your left. 

The trail starts out right next to Sagehen Creek, and follows fairly close to it for most of the route. It’s a pleasant almost level stroll through a scattered forest of Jeffrey and lodgepole pines, with occasional groves of aspen trees. In the forest look for the diminutive dwarf waterleaf with their pretty purple flowers, as well as mule ears topped with bright yellow flowers. About a mile in a large beaver pond can be seen off to the right. 

Near two miles from the trailhead you reach the first of several large meadows. On my hike on June 2nd the camas lillies and buttercups were starting to appear, but my guess is mid June would be the perfect time to hike. Usually after the second meadow, the creek can be easily crossed via a flat board, which then gives access to a third meadow.  But after a winter like this past one, we were not able to get within 50 yards of that crossing because the creek had overflowed. Instead, we made our way down to the shore of Stampede Reservoir.

Stampede looks higher than I have ever seen it this spring. Usually, you have to walk a good 1/4 mile or more from the edge of the second meadow to reach the reservoir, but now, the water is just 100 yards from the meadows edge. The bathtub ring of dirt that usually borders the reservoir is gone. Keep your eyes peeled for the birds that frequent Stampede including bald eagles and white pelicans. 

Looking for a short hike to see some flowers? Can’t beat this one, and a bit of lollygagging about getting there might not be a bad idea, because the flowers still have two weeks to go before reaching their flowery peak.