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 

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. 

 

By Tim Hauserman 

Goose and Chey’s is a new fun spot for food and great music in Tahoe City. It specializes in reasonably priced comfort food, providing a relaxing atmosphere, and presenting all kinds of music on a great stage. Here you will find the best local talent on open mic nights as well as more well known musical acts, even Chey herself has been known to grace the stage. Or you can skip the music and just come for a good meal in downtown Tahoe City.

I made my first visit to Goose and Chey’s this past week and found it to be a fun and comfortable place. Joyce had a sliced prime rib French dip sandwich, and I went for a burger with avocado. We split a side of fries, Joyce had a glass of wine and I had a soda and then we had an ice cream sundae that hit the spot: The total bill was around $50 with tip. So not only does this place provide comfort food, but it is fairly comfortable to the wallet as well. 

The simple menu also included dressed up mac and cheese, tacos, lasagna, crispy pork chops, salmon, several different salads, and fish and chips. The price range was pretty wide so you can splurge, or get in and out without too much pain. For Sunday brunch they have Monte Cristo’s, Bacon and Eggs and French Toast. They have a good selection of beer and wine as well. 

After dinner we got closer to the stage to watch the open mic music. The atmosphere was super chill, with several sets of quality music played in a laid back manner. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like it was a collection of different musicians all jamming together. The dance floor was beautifully occupied by several two year old boys who seemed to be experts at rocking out. This is a perfect place for family to come and have a meal, watch the music, and let the kids roam around or enjoy the pile of toys set up in the corner.  

Thursday night is Open Mic night. Otherwise, check their Facebook page for updates on entertainment.  They are open for lunch and dinner, and are located at 877 N. Lake Blvd. Tucked in above the highway across the street from Safeway and across the driveway from Truckee Tahoe Medical Group.  Call (661) 889-1379

 

by Tim Hauserman 

I’ve been anticipating this date for weeks, perhaps even months. Sure July and August are always fun with a steady series of events such as the Concerts on The Commons and Truckee Thursday, but the middle of summer is also crowded. The kids are out of school so everyone heads away from the heat of the Bay Area and Sacramento to enjoy some much needed R and R at Lake Tahoe.

The crowds peak at the end of July and then very slowly start to dwindle as school district after school district snatches another group of kids back from the lake (I’m sure the kids are kicking and screaming as they get dragged away…”Wait, just one more swim!”)  The crowds briefly return for the summer crescendo over Labor Day…but then the day after Labor Day, that’s what we have all been waiting for. The beginning of Local’s Summer. Today!

We set out to celebrate the joys of September 4th by heading out onto the lake in my wood canoe. We arrived at Tahoe Park Beach at 8:45 am. There were no other people on the beach. The lake was as still as a pane of glass. There were no boat wakes. There were only a few other folks in kayaks and on paddleboards. It was peacefully quiet. We all had ginormous shit grins on our faces, and felt like Flounder in Animal House, “This is going to be great!”

We paddled from Tahoe Park to the dam above Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City. Aside from a few very talented water skiers who had also been waiting for this day all summer, it was just us silent paddlers, a few quiet folks on docks, and some squawking ducks. Even the haze from the smoke partially obscuring the mountains couldn’t deter our joy in being lucky enough to be here now. We knew we had hit the jack pot. Had made it to the other side of summer, and we were stoked! 

Nice weather, small crowds, beautiful lake. Hopefully there are a few more months of all of this before the snow flies and the crowds return. 

By Tim Hauserman

As August comes to an end it’s easy to bemoan the loss of summer. The mornings are getting chilly, and our thoughts start to turn to the the colder days of autumn.  But put away that sad face, often September is the best month of the year. The weather is usually warm and dry. The bike riding, kayaking and boating are still available for the taking. And the best part is that while Tahoe is certainly not dead, there is now plenty of room to roam, the traffic headaches are gone, and the locals have big smiles on their faces because they’ve been waiting anxiously for the crowds to disappear in September since mid-July.

Now you can paddleboard at 9 am and not have to face all those boat wakes. You can go for a mountain bike ride with less dust. Ride your bike on the roads with fewer cars. Go backpacking in Desolation Wilderness and be able to find a quiet campsite.  Even go out to breakfast or dinner without having to worry about long lines. 

Later in September the leaves start to turn which makes for a whole new set of hiking and biking opportunities. Page Meadows, Marlette Lake, Ward and Blackwood Canyons, and Ophir Creek are some of my favorite leaf peeping places. And don’t miss the Kokanee salmon spawning at Taylor Creek, which happens from late September into early October. 

While September weather is most likely glorious, it is a bit less dependable then July. Keep your eye on the forecast and the hourly temperature readings. The days are shorter, the mornings are colder, and sometimes little storm fronts come rolling through and dump a good dousing of rain. Take that day off and enjoy the much needed wet stuff laying down the dust, then head out onto the freshly packed trails and enjoy. 

One of my favorite September activities is to go to the shore of the lake, look out over the still calm waters, breathe deep and enjoy that elusive sense that you don’t find often in the middle of the summer: quiet stillness. Ahh…

 

By Tim Hauserman

These days every summer morning you will see paddleboards and kayaks paddling along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. These light weight craft give folks the chance to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of our Sierra lakes. In the old days, bulkier wood or metal canoes were the preferred method of paddling from place to place, now they are a rare sighting. But canoes are not just vestiges from a bygone age, they can still be a fun way to get out on the lake today. Especially if an overnight trip is your goal. 

My parents owned an Old Town canoe that was rode hard and brought home wet by a whole host of Hauserman kids and grandkids for over 30 years. A few years ago when I acquired the old girl, I christened her Sheila, and arranged for her much needed make over. Now, she is looking good and ready for action. In June, she took us on an epic Tahoe adventure: We paddled from Bliss State Park to the Emerald Bay boat campground and spent the night.

The early morning paddle from Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay is an amazing journey. The entire four miles of lakeshore is state park land and devoid of structures and roads. It looks pretty much the way it did 100 years ago (I guess, contrary to the opinions of my kids, I was not around back then). As we made our way in and out of the little rocky coves we saw several eagles and an osprey, but since we left really early we didn’t see many boats. 

We passed the boat campground by mid-morning and kept going to the beach in front of Vikingsholm for our picnic lunch, before returning to the campground to set up camp. The process was quite simple, pull the boat onto the grass at the edge of the lake and carry our dry sacks full of gear up to our camp site. Most of the folks spending the night arrived via kayak. We did notice that those who arrived by motor boat tended to bring a lot more gear, I guess because they had plenty of room to do so. While they might have been more comfortable in camp, they worked up an appetite with all those trips back to the dock. 

Once we had our camp set up, is when it got really good. While Emerald Bay is a crowded place in the summer, as the day began to wane, most of the folks left, and then the bay was a peaceful place. 

Early the next morning, we glided over the glassy lake surface to loop around Fannette Island, before heading back to Bliss State Park. Then we spent a beautiful morning enjoying one of Tahoe’s best beaches. Can’t wait to do it again. 

by Tim Hauserman

Want to get a good look at what is going on at Lake Tahoe without leaving the comfort of your home? Check out one of these webcams online, including Hauserman Rental Groups very own webcam.

The Hauserman Rental Group webcam is located right above HRG’s office in The Cobblestone. It gives a great view of downtown Tahoe City. It answers these all important questions: What is the traffic and weather like in Tahoe City, and can I find a parking spot in The Cobblestone?  Hopefully in about five months you can look and find snow falling.

https://www.enjoytahoe.com/about-us/webcam/

The folks at tahoetopia.com have installed a host of other webcams around Tahoe. Here are a few fun ones to check out:

Heading to the Beach?

Commons Beach: Their newest webcam shows Commons Beach. Check it out this summer to see the crowd at the Sunday Concerts on the Beach, or Wednesday movie night, or just to see whether it is windy or time to jump in your kayak.

North Tahoe Event Center: Check out the sandy front of Kings Beach. Locate your spot on the sand then high tail it to the beach.

How’s the water looking:

Sunnyside Lodge: Head to this west shore hot spot to see whether the wind is better for sailing or paddleboarding. And just looking at those umbrellas on the deck will start your imagination heading towards Fish Tacos.

Tahoe City Marina: What’s it look like in the marina? This is a good one to see if thunderstorms or snow storms are rolling in.

Traffic:

Tahoe City Y: Get the latest on traffic coming into Tahoe City, as well as what is happening with the Fanny Bridge construction project.

Downtown Truckee: This is the one to go to to see how busy Truckee looks, or watch the goings on during Truckee Thursday.

Truckee Tahoe Airport Cam: It might not be car traffic, but why not check out the air traffic coming and going from the local airport.

Biking and Nordic Skiing, Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area

To see how the bike and cross country ski trails are looking, go to tahoexc.org.

By Tim Hauserman

Here in the Sierra Nevada, Mother Nature knows that seasons can be fickle and short so she doesn’t mess around. Instead she gets right to doing what nature does best…producing off-spring, especially the plant variety. Even before the last flake of snow has fallen the melting cycle is in full swing. While the creeks are roaring with all that melted snow, the wildflowers are already popping up along the creek edges, eager to attract the bees and produce the seeds that will mean more wildflowers the next year. High elevation plants know that if you get it done fast, you will not have to worry about the early season snow wiping out a year’s crop.

Watching Page Meadows go through the cycle is a prime example of how fast the process goes. In the middle of June I approached Page Meadows and there were still lots of standing water with patches of snow still in the shady forest. The edges were starting to sprout flowers, but I skipped a ride through it because it would have been a muddy and buggy slog. A month later, I rode through and the trails were dry as a bone, in some places the flowers had come and were already going to seed, and the early signs of mid-summer were starting to appear: Grasshoppers.

The aspen tree leaves in the meadow are still a deep, dark green, and the grass remains green and vibrant. But before you know it, the grass will start to dull and turn brown, the yellow jackets will make a very unpopular reappearance, and the number of grass hoppers will explode. When they do, a bike ride through the meadows sets off a wave of flying creatures in your wake.

It will still be awhile before the first leaves begin to turn as the nights get colder. Fall conditions can last anywhere from a few weeks before the first snows arrive in October or cruise right on into November before the white stuff finally flies. Whenever winter comes, it puts the meadow asleep again for several months under a blanket of white…but wait, we are not there yet. Now is the time to enjoy the warmth, the green grass and the blue sky…but carpe diem, because nature doesn’t fool around in the Sierra.

by Tim Hauserman

It’s that time of year when Tahoe’s hiking trails start attracting hordes of happy hikers checking out the wildflowers and sparkling mountain lakes. One of those hiking trails is the Pacific Crest Trail which on it’s 2600 mile journey between Mexico and Canada passes about ten miles west of Lake Tahoe along the Pacific Crest. In fact, between Carson Pass to the south, and Donner Pass in the north, the PCT is very much a part of the fabric of our natural surroundings. And right now, after over 1000 miles of hiking from Mexico, a steady stream of PCT thru-hikers are walking through the Tahoe region in route to Canada.

If you are out on the PCT over the next few weeks you are bound to see the long distance hikers passing through. While they are all unique and come from a wide variety of backgrounds these long distance hikers do have a few things in common: First, they walk fast and smooth, as if they floating above the ground. They also most likely have lighter packs then us shorter distance backpackers, and most importantly, they are obviously very determined and focused.

Over the last week, I spent a few days on the PCT and encountered perhaps 25 thru-hikers. Many seem to be more covered from head to toe, even in the heat, wearing lightweight long pants and long sleeved shirts, and often some sort of large hat. I did speak to one long distance hiker who said that the reason for this is that she doesn’t want to put on sunscreen, because it attracts dirt. And as you can imagine when you are hiking for months at a time…you do attract plenty of dirt. Of course, this leads to another indication of a long distance hiker, by the time they finish the trip, they may want to burn their clothing, because the smell of all those miles may never come out.

Above all, thru-hikers are focused on adding up the miles. Take 2600 miles and divide it by 20 and you come up with 130 days. That means that if you can carry your backpack and make 20 miles per day on average, including zero days, and time spent resupplying…it will still take you 130 days or 4 and a half months to make the journey. I’ve backpacked quite a bit, and don’t remember doing 20 miles in a day with a big pack on my back, let alone averaging it for a whole trip. But many of these hikers do that. They do it by getting up early in the morning, steadily hiking all day, and being very efficient with their time.

So these hikers are focused, and may not want to take the time to stop and chat, but if you do get the opportunity, it always make for an interesting conversation. You will most likely learn a lot about hiking, but perhaps even more importantly, you will learn about perseverance. This hike is an absolutely amazing athletic feat.  They have already walked a thousand miles, and are bound and determined to make it another 1600 miles. Now that is perseverance.