Springtime suggestions at Lake Tahoe
After one of the largest winters on record, spring is finally here, although in the Tahoe Basin it might not feel like spring at the moment with the weekend’s forecast calling for rain … or snow … or some combination of the two.
But there is no denying it’s starting to feel a little warmer. And, speaking personally, the sunny days of late have really started stirring the itch for summer.
There is something to be said, however, for spring. It’s the best of both worlds.
We still have snow for skiing/riding and we’re nearing fantastic kayaking (NOT swimming … unless you’re crazy) weather where it’s warm enough to get out comfortably but not so warm that the lake is packed with boats and other nuisances (I’m really just jealous I don’t have a boat).
Pettiness aside, here are some suggestions for enjoying spring in and around the Tahoe Basin.
On the mountain
It’s April, which means barring backcountry outings your window to get in those turns is shrinking.
First, a note to all the people who want to complain about most of the resorts closing at the end of April despite the bountiful snowpack: You do realize these are businesses, right? And the goal of running a business is to make money, right? Flushing Benjamins down the can to cover the monumental cost of operating a mountain ain’t exactly smiled upon, right?
The fact is when the seasons change people’s mindsets change — especially if they’re living off the hill where spring is really starting to heat up. They’re focusing on summer sports, not skiing and riding.
This is good news for those of us who still want to get on the mountain, because the crowds are smaller and smaller (which is why only a few resorts opt to stay open beyond late April).
And with the giant winter, some resorts are staying open past the normal closure dates. For the first time in years, Heavenly Mountain Resort will be open on weekends through Memorial Day. Daily operations end April 28.
Squaw Valley plans to offer limited skiing options into early July.
At this point, hiking options in the Tahoe Basin are pretty slim for the time being thanks to all the snow on the ground. But that’s where snowshoes enter the picture.
If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll consider heading out to the Fallen Leaf Lake area or Spooner Lake area.
Want something more difficult? Consider Winnemucca Lake, accessed off Carson Pass. It’s a roughly 2-mile (closer to 5 miles round trip) hike up from the highway in DEEP snow. The views will make it all worth it. A $5 Sno-Park permit is required during winter and early spring. They can be purchased at local Forest Service offices.
If you’re over the snow and want to avoid strapping on snowshoes just to go for a quick jaunt, consider dropping out (not that dropping out) of the basin.
The Carson Valley in Nevada has some excellent trails. (The Carson Valley Trails website carsonvalleytrails.org is a tremendous resource if you’re looking for hikes down in the valley.) My recommendation: Hit the Eagle Ridge Trail near Genoa, get your 7(ish) miles of hiking in and then grab a drink at the Genoa Bar and Saloon.
Spring marks the re-emergence of outdoor dining/drinking. Let’s face it, few things can compete with drinking a cold beverage in the warmth of the sun.
Of course, Heavenly Village has plenty of outdoor dining options, with Village Bar and Grill, Azul Latin Kitchen and Gunbarrel Tavern and Eatery, to name a few.
Across the street from the village, located right on the state line is South of North Brewing Company (formerly known as Outpost Brewing Co.). They have an awesome courtyard area that is dog friendly and offers plenty to do.
Aside from the beer, South of North has appetizers, salads and hand foods (think bratwursts and sandwiches) available to enjoy.
If you’re one of those people on a budget (cough, cough), slap together a decent lunch, pack a few drinks and head out for a picnic. Nevada Beach is a great place to enjoy lunch while staring out at Big Blue and fantasizing of summer.