Lake Tahoe highlights California snowshoe guide | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe highlights California snowshoe guide

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

With the public’s demand to venture in the backcountry and the improvement of the equipment, snowshoeing is now billed as one of the fastest growing activities in the nation.

Around the Lake Tahoe Basin, residents and visitors have the luxury of taking part in the sport in their own back yards.

One could even say we’re spoiled by the short drive to the pretty places.

The 66 routes mentioned in “Snowshoe Routes, Northern California” by Marc J. Soares fall to within a day’s drive from the major metropolitan areas of San Francisco and Sacramento — and that’s a seller to most people.

Of the 13 routes listed in the basin, five are located on the South Shore — making the $16.95 suggested retail worth paying for when considering the quality vs. quantity.

The book’s introduction is lyrical in its motive to get people interested in the sport. Those who read it will identify with the statement: “To be a snowshoer is part of a curious and unique breed.” They’ll also appreciate a regional perspective of what makes Northern California a grand place for snowshoeing. For one reason, it can last from Thanksgiving to May. For another, world-class destinations are under foot in the region — including the towering, majestic Mount Shasta.

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The South Shore is no exception.

Echo Lakes, tucked into an access road 12 miles southwest of South Lake Tahoe, is certainly one of the most mentionable — for snowshoers and cross country skiers.

After a short jaunt on the road that looks like many wilderness routes through the backcountry, the wanderer with webbed feet is treated to the expansive views of lower Echo Lake. The lower and upper lakes also offer a real estate tour that some snowshoers would find interesting, but it’s not mentioned.

The book performs a great service in describing the Echo Lakes terrain in its opener. Soares leads snowshoers from one trip to another. He does so in his book by pitching the Becker Peak snowshoe route as an offshoot to the Echo Lakes trip.

The opening line in the Angora Lakes route says it all for any snowshoeing book — “What a difference some snow makes.”

Beyond offering the tranquility of visiting a peaceful area that’s a bustling summer hot spot, this statement also holds true for conditions.

Snowshoeing, unlike cross country skiing, requires somewhat of a new layer. Otherwise, hiking on the surface of a hard snowpack will always be preferred.

There are a few areas of improvement in this book.

First and foremost, the map key breaks up the table of contents. A reader may be confused there’s more to the book.

And Mount Tallac — as the cardinal peak on the South Shore — deserves more information on the journey. Tallac may be climbed through various routes, and the book should delve into them.

In addition, hiking times vary too much — including Echo Lakes’ listing as taking two to six hours. For some, it’s difficult to plan a trip with that kind of variance. Guide books will often choose a destination, then base the hiking time on that.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com.

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