Tahoe Rim Trail Association kicks off several months of winter recreation events, programs and skills courses Saturday with a three-mile hike at Van Sickle Bi-State Park.
Activities run through March. With a wimpy winter to date, this first hike may not require snowshoes as originally planned, but it will coincide with Winter Trails Day — a national celebration that aims to get people out and enjoying trails this time of year, even if there is no snow.
“Even if we don’t get much snow, we can still do on-trail hikes in sturdy boots. We can still get out and get some exercise,” said Tom Rodriguez, director of trail use for Tahoe Rim Trail Association.
The hike at Van Sickle Bi-State Park is the first of many free, guided public hikes and hikes for TRTA members to be offered this winter.
The association is trying to offer something for everyone, Rodriguez said.
Planned outings include treks to Lower and Upper Echo lakes, Tahoe Meadows, Martis Peak and Meiss Lake.
A history-focused trek will teach people about legendary Sierra mailman John “Snowshoe” Thompson.
On other hikes, TRTA is partnering with Tahoe Institute for Natural Science to focus on how to identify wildlife tracks and wildlife survival techniques.
“There are exercise hikes that go a little farther and are more challenging, hikes to vistas for views, and some hikes for education,” Rodriguez said of planned activities.
Members of TRTA will take a full-moon trek through Tahoe Meadows in mid-January.
Other programs that are not free offer to teach people things such as wilderness first aid and fundamentals of snow camping.
The dry winter weather could be a topic for discussion Thursday, Jan. 16 at Sierra Nevada College.
TRTA arranged for Chris Smallcomb of the National Weather Service office in Reno to speak at the college. He will discuss how people can best try to anticipate and prepare for hazardous winter weather and share the stories of the some of the biggest storms to hit the Sierra in the last 10 years.
“He’ll also talk about winter weather in January and what’s going on this winter,” Rodriguez said.
People are still hoping for snow, but as blue skies and warm temperatures linger day after day, that hope is fading, Rodriguez said.
“Hopefully it will turn around. Hopefully by the end of March we’ll get a couple good snows.”
The goal of the TRTA events and programs is to show people they can get outside and explore.
“Most people know the Tahoe basin real well during summer and fall, but sometimes people coop up a little more in winter. We’re trying to help them see there’s lots to do, even during the winter,” Rodriguez said.
“We like to offer a good diversity of events and programs so everyone can find at least one, maybe to meet some new hiking partners or spend some different time with their family than what they’re used to.”
People are asked to register for events and programs in advance. A full listing is available online at http://tinyurl.com/TRTAhikes.