Tahoe Basin in prime shape for backcountry travelers | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Basin in prime shape for backcountry travelers

A backcountry traveler takes in Dardanelles Lake.

There was still plenty of snow in the backcountry last year when July rolled around. The epic winter of 2016-17 dumped historic amounts of snow and several feet of the drought killer remained into August.

Hundreds of visitors ran into snow on trails while recreating in the Desolation Wilderness and throughout the El Dorado National Forest.

But when vacationers come to the basin this year for the Fourth of July, it will mostly be clear in the mountains for hiking, biking, horseback riding or trail running, according to Morgan Steel, executive director for the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, who oversees the 165-mile path around the basin.

"Most trails are free and clear of snow," Steel said. "There is an area around Star Lake and Freel where there is still a little snow, but for the most part it is pretty clear."

The lack of snow makes it easier to navigate, but hikers should still come prepared.

While the temperatures lately in South Lake Tahoe have been above 80 degrees, when the holiday hits Wednesday, the National Weather Service is expecting a high of 75 with a low of 46. And that's just at lake level. It is going to be much colder a few thousand feet higher. And if the wind kicks up just a little, it may get downright chilly.

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"It has gotten so warm all of a sudden, but the conditions can change daily," Steel said. "But the trails look really good. The last two years there were a lot of trees down, but for the most part we're in good shape."

With the trails in good shape, they're going to receive a foot pounding over the next few months from hoofs, to paws, to bike tires to shoes.

With all that traffic hitting the trails this summer, the TRTA hopes people keep two things in mind: be good stewards of the land and be polite to fellow explorers.

"The biggest thing for me is to get people to clean up after themselves and be nice to people," Steel said. "Everyone is out there to have fun. With all the people coming here for the holiday, and this summer, say 'Hi' and be friendly."