Western Trips

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Tahoe Rim Trail / Western Hiking Adventures

One of the most scenic trails you'll have an opportunity to hike is located high up in the Sierra Nevada mountain chain leading you through both California and Nevada. Lake Tahoe is located northeast of Sacramento, California and south of Interstate 80 which connects Sacramento to Reno, Nevada.

tahoe rim trail
Tahoe Rim Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail, completed in 2001, is a loop trail 164 miles in total length. This trail encircles beautiful Lake Tahoe on the California / Nevada border while passing through a National Forest, state parks and several wilderness areas.  The Tahoe Rim Trail offers spectacular views of shimmering Lake Tahoe and could be the finest breathtaking views you"ll ever experience on a hike. Done as a through-hike, the Tahoe Rim Trail can be a strenuous and difficult trek.

Tahoe's Hiking Season

Lake Tahoe is located high in the Sierras above 7,000 feet in elevation. Because of this the trail opens usually in mid-June, when the snow has melted off, and closes again in late October. Your window for hiking is essentially about four months per year. This through hike is best done in the summer and fall months. For early summer enough snow needs to have melted to make the trail passable.

western hiking trails
Hikers, Mountain Bikers, Equestrians

The Tahoe Rim Trail can accommodate the hiker, mountain biker and equestrian. The trail was designed during construction to not exceed an average grade of 10 percent. Mountain biking is allowed on about half of the trail. Horses and stock are allowed on all sections of the trail with the exception of the Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail and a section of the Mt. Rose Trail. The loop can be accessed from anywhere around the lake or surrounding communities. Most of the trail follows along the ridge tops offering views of nature at its finest. The mountain peaks around Lake Tahoe which the trail runs along is made from granite and you'll see a variety of Alpine forest trees.

Beautiful Views and Photo Opportunities

california hiking trailsGreat opportunities will be there for photo taking of wild flowers- golden yellow Mountain Mule Ears and firecracker red Indian Paintbrush. Rise past flowing mountain streams and don't forget to look out over the incredible Tahoe Basin in all its brilliance. Hundreds of small lakes are found at higher elevations above Lake Tahoe. The trail will take you under trees, through meadows or even above the tree line rising close to 11,000 feet at points. Be aware of bears since the trail does go straight through their country.

Triangular light blue trail markers planted along the trail help hikers find their way. Because of the relatively harsh winters the signs don't always last. You will want to be prepared with a map and compass. Camping areas  are found in some areas of the trail, while in other areas, like Desolation Wilderness, no designated camping areas are permitted.

The trail is a good one for hikers of all levels but note that done as a through-hike, the Tahoe Rim Trail can be a strenuous and difficult trek. The amount of days taken to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail depends on your pace. A 12 day trek assumes an average pace of 13.75 miles per day.

lake tahoe bike trails
Things to Know Before You Go

Campfire Permits are required, "for any individuals planning to use an open fire (such as a campfire), barbecue or portable stove on federally controlled lands and private lands that are the property of another person". The state of Nevada does not issue its own campfire permits, but does require individuals to carry a California Campfire Permit in the Nevada backcountry. You can obtain your California Campfire Permit online in as few as 10 minutes for FREE.

The trail is not open to any motorized vehicles. This includes any form of electric bike.

For those looking to do an overnight (or multiple day) backpacking trip through Desolation Wilderness, you will need an Overnight Camping Permit. Anyone looking to do a Thru Hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail can bypass the quota system and reserve their Overnight Camping Permit through the Forest Service Supervisor's Office. These permits can only be given out within two weeks of when you enter Desolation Wilderness.

You'll find more detailed information at...the  Tahoe Rim Trail web Site at TahoeRimTrail.org

(Article copyright Western Trips)