Nature’s own fireworks display: Emigrant Trail tour promises spectacular colors |

Nature’s own fireworks display: Emigrant Trail tour promises spectacular colors

Jeff Munson
Fall colors are well represented in Hope Valley. (Photo Provided by Randi Szromba)

Throughout the Carson Pass and Emigrant Trail areas south of Lake Tahoe are some of the most vivid stretches of high country quaking aspen in all of the Sierra.

Driving to see nature’s fireworks display is one way to view. Another is to simply get out of your car, camera in tow, and walk. South Lake Tahoe resident Randi Szromba described what she saw this week:

“As I headed toward Highway 89, there are more signs, past the airport of golds and yellows, but when you turn at Meyers, into Christmas Valley, the fun really begins.

“On the way to the Hope Valley you will see behind the pines, loads of aspens, turning their awe inspiring yellows and light oranges, but as you crest the top of Luther Pass and don your way down the hill, you will be blinded by some of the most beautiful scenes that only happen at this time of the year. And, it only lasts about two weeks, as the weather gets colder, snow starts to fall, and the wind continues to blow these colorful spectacles down from their branches.

“One of the special places is Sorensen’s Resort, whose parking lot today was packed with cars. Wonderful foliage surround this quaint cabined inn, and they also serve up some great lunchtime food…Peak time looks like about a week from now, so don’t miss it.”

If you are into hiking, the trails at the top of Carson Pass will also have a great display of fall colors.

To get to Hope Valley, 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.

Leaf-seekers don’t necessarily have to travel to Hope Valley to see the awesome display of color. Lake Tahoe shows off its dazzling red, gold and orange aspens against evergreen landscapes with endless activities to enjoy the brilliant hues of the Sierra Nevada. Baldwin Beach has loads of aspens, as well as the Taylor Creek area.

After a leisurely drive through the Sierra Foothills via scenic Highways 50, 89, 49 or 20, the forest around the lake offers an oasis of colors, events and activities. The summer crowds have dwindled, leaving the waters calmer and the trails peaceful with breathtaking vistas resplendent with radiant aspen.

Ideal trails for viewing fall color include Page Meadows outside of Tahoe City; Meeks Bay Trail just north of Emerald Bay on the West Shore; Five Lakes Trail in Alpine Meadows; Ellis Peak Trail in West Shore’s Blackwood Canyon; and the Dolder and General Creek Trails in Sugar Pine Point State Park, also on the West Shore. The paved bike path along the Truckee River from Olympic Valley, California to Tahoe City is equally awe-inspiring.

Changing fall foliage can be seen by driving along Tahoe’s shoreline with magnificent colors on one side and Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, on the other. Highway 267 from Truckee, California to Kings Beach is also a showcase of stunning hues.

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