Hit the trail: Organizations repair popular trails after historic winter

No portions of Tahoe Rim Trail are closed but many are snowy and muddy. | Hannah Pence / Tahoe Daily Tribune
Hannah Pence / Tahoe Daily Tribune

With temperatures rising and summer getting underway, visitors and locals alike are looking to get out onto the many trails that surround Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

Following a historic winter, many sections of trails in higher elevations of the Sierra are still covered in snow or are muddy, while other segments may be covered with debris and fallen trees from a storms and snowfall from the past several months.

“It’s mixed conditions out there right now. Currently, everything above 8,500 feet is probably snow covered,” said Kate Gallaugher, outreach and marketing coordinator for Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

While no segments of the Tahoe Rim Trail are closed, Gallaugher said that many areas are snow covered, muddy, or have fallen trees, and that hikers should be prepared with microspikes and poles. She added that the East Shore typically dries out the fastest and that area’s around Destination Wilderness may be muddy and snowy for much of the summer. The association is also asking hikers to stay clear of Big Meadow due to flooding and the sensitivity of the ecology in the area. 

“It’s such a sensitive area that we’re asking people to avoid that area,” said Gallaugher. “If they feel like they have to go through it, just stay on the trail and walk through the water on the mud instead of going out into the meadow to try and find drier areas.”

Relay Ridge on the north end of the trail is also covered in snow as is Freel Peak to Star Lake on the south side.

Work to repair trails after this past winter has been ongoing, and volunteers for trail days are wanted. No experience is necessary and signups can be done at

“Our trails crews and volunteers are getting out there already and clearing those trees but we’re still waiting for areas to melt out,” said Gallaugher.

In 2022, more than 700,000 hikers used the Tahoe Rim Trail, marking a 40% increase from previous years.

The association also has guided backpack trips and on Jul 14 will offer a Backpacking 101 for those wishing to learn tips and tricks to enjoy a night out in the backcountry.

Hiking in Olympic Valley is also an option for those looking to get outdoors. The Shirley Canyon hike has snow on some portions along with debris and fallen trees, but is open for the summer season. The half-day hike goes from The Village at Palisades Tahoe into Shirley Canyon and past three waterfalls on the way to Shirley Lake and to the resort’s High Camp.

Nonprofit organization Truckee Trails Foundation has had volunteers busy this month working to clear downed trees, refinishing trail surfaces, clearing drains and more. Work the past few weeks has taken place in Waddle Ranch and most recently at the Sawtooth Network where crews are doing new trail construction on the Crosscut Trail. Plans are to move to the Upper Big Chief trailhead in the coming weeks, according to the nonprofit. Truckee Trails Foundation helps maintain dozens of hiking and biking trails across the North Tahoe and Truckee areas. For more information on trails and volunteer days, visit

Another favorite in the area is the hike to the top Mount Rose. The roughly 10-mile route is open to the public, but hiker have stated that most of the trail is snow covered.

Farther south, hiking around Spooner and Marlette Lake is open and relatively free of snow according to users.

On the other side of the lake, the Rubicon Trail extends 16.4 miles along Tahoe’s shoreline from Vikingsholm Estate to D.L. Bliss State Park. Farther South, hikers have been taking on one of the more popular routes in the Tahoe Basin to the top of Mount Tallac. Currently, there some snow on the trail, but is relatively clear along the roughly five-mile hike.

As temperatures increase and with large crowds expected for Independence Day, the U.S. Forest Service is reminding hikers that rivers and creeks will be flowing fast and cold. Hikers should always tell someone where they’re going, and be prepared for rapidly changing weather. The forest service is also asking those recreating in the wilderness to properly secure food and garbage and to never approach bears or their cubs. Campfires and use of charcoal is prohibited in all forest service lands at Lake Tahoe except in open, designated campgrounds with a permanently installed metal campfire pit or barbecue grill.

“The Independence Day holiday period is a time to celebrate our nation’s history and our shared value of public land access,” said Public Services Staff Officer, Daniel Cressy, in a news release. “One way we can all do this is by caring for Tahoe’s lands, waters, communities, and people while we safely enjoy this spectacular place together.”

For more information on recreating within the Tahoe Basin, visit http://www.fs.usda.

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