Hope Valley explodes with color | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hope Valley explodes with color

Crisp mornings — right when the sun rises above the horizon as the gentle gray of dawn is replaced by a crystal blue sky — is perhaps the best time to see the palate of fall color at Hope Valley.

Throughout the Carson Pass area, south of Lake Tahoe, are some of the most vivid stretches of high country quaking aspen in all of California.

To get there, take Highway 50 west and turn left on Highway 89, just past the agricultural inspection station. Drive to Picketts Junction and turn left onto Highway 88. Hope Valley is just beyond Sorensen’s Resort.

According to Alpine County historians, Hope Valley was probably first seen by John Fremont and Kit Carson in their mid-winter trip across the Sierra in 1844, but it was members of the Mormon Battalion, returning from the Mexican War of 1946-47 who named the valley in 1848.

During the massive migration to California that began with the 1849 Gold Rush, the valley’s tall grass was important, offering plentiful forage for cattle and horses for emigrants using the Carson River Route of the Emigrant Trail.

From the late 19th century through the 1970s, Hope Valley continued to be used by Carson Valley ranchers for their summer pasture.

Threatened with development in the 1980s, a coalition of Alpine County citizens and visitors successfully lobbied California to purchase much of the undeveloped land in Hope Valley, forever protecting one of the largest alpine meadows in the Sierra Nevada for future public use.

During the winter months, Hope Valley is a popular cross country ski and snowmobile area, while fishing, hiking, camping and cycling are popular activities the rest of the year.

— Jeff Munson, city editor

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