Trails & Vistas celebrating art, nature with spiritual hikes at Tahoe-Truckee |

Trails & Vistas celebrating art, nature with spiritual hikes at Tahoe-Truckee

Tim Hauserman
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
At the Trails & Vistas art hikes, "capacitor" dancers will connect to nature and make an emotional bond.
Courtesy Jeff Engerbretson |

If you go

What: Trails and Vistas Art Hikes

When and where: Saturday, Sept. 12, Spooner Lake State Park, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 28 at Spooner Summit.

When and where: Saturday, Sept. 19, Donner Ski Ranch, at the top of Donner Pass on Old Highway 40.

Tickets: $45. Guided hikes leave on a regular basis. Register in advance online for a particular time at

World Concert: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival stage at Sand Harbor State Park. Tickets start at $23 and are available from or by calling 800-747-4697.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Once again, the people of North Lake Tahoe and Truckee will be treated to the unique artistic and spiritually expressive experience that is Trails & Vistas.

This year, for the first time, you can be a part of a Trails & Vistas Art Hike on two different weekends in two different locations.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, the Art Hike will occur at Spooner Lake State Park, above the east shore of Lake Tahoe.

The following weekend’s hike, on Sept. 19, will happen at Donner Ski Ranch on Donner Summit.

What is a Trails & Vistas Art Hike?

“It is the intersection of nature and art,” says Nancy Lopez, executive director of the Truckee-based nonprofit group.

Guides lead groups of 20 people on a three-mile hike past 10 different installations, where they will find amazing music, dance, art and storytelling.

Kirstin Guinn, spokesperson for Trails & Vistas, says that at first, she was a bit skeptical of the concept of watching a storyteller — but that quickly changed when she experienced it during practice runs.

“I was so engrossed,” she said. “I was crying at the end of it, an amazing performance.”

Guinn says that while we are used to seeing dance and music performances on a stage with artificial sets, it’s a beautiful experience when nature is instead the backdrop.

She feels that seeing a performance on a boulder with Donner Lake in the background is better then any theater.

“Isn’t it awesome when silks hang from a tree instead of a pole in a gym?” Guinn says.


To add to the connection between nature and performance, Lopez says Trails & Vistas brings artists in advance to the exact location they will perform, so they can create what best fits the environment at that site.

In addition to the general art hikes, you can attend one of three different specialty hikes that are offered both weekends: family hikes (designed for those with younger children), leisure hikes (for people who want to take their time and move slowly), and meditative adult-only hikes.

Lopez says the meditative hikes will include stretches of time where everyone is quiet.

“It’s a different experience when you are trying to be mindful of what you see … when you slow down, put away the technology, and make the connection with the land and the creativity that we all have,” she says.

While some performers will present at both Spooner and Donner, others will only be at one of the locations.

Given the different atmosphere and feeling of the sites, each event will be unique, Lopez says.

Spooner Lake is a soft place with gentle walking and peaceful views of aspen trees and a mountain lake.

The Donner hike, meanwhile, includes panoramic views amid the hard granite and starker surroundings at the top of the Donner crest.


Also on Saturday, Sept. 12, Trails & Vistas will present its third annual World Concert.

“It will be an evening of music from around the world, set on one of the world’s most beautiful stages: Sand Harbor,” Lopez said. “We are very excited about the lineup for the concert. And it benefits the Art and Nature School Field trips, where we take 400 local third graders to Sand Harbor to write poetry, create art and music.

“It’s a very interactive field trip for the students.”

The featured artist will be the 2014 Grammy-winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra, which combines big band horns, percussion, piano and vocals.

Other artists include celtic violinist Scarlet Rivera; Tahoe local Peter Joseph Burtt, who presents soulful blues; a Taiko drum performance; jazz harpist Motoshi Kosako; and Ian Ethan on a double-necked guitar.

There will also be a painting performance by Susie Alexander, who will create several works inspired by the evening’s music.

Trails & Vistas is looking for a few more volunteers for the Art Hikes to act as a trail leader, caboose or base camp helper. Volunteers on Sept. 12 receive a free ticket to the World Concert at Sand Harbor.

Volunteers on Sept. 19 are invited to an after party on the deck of Donner Ski Ranch with live music by Ian Ethan. Email if you are interested in volunteering.

Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor. He wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, now in it’s third edition, as well as Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children. He may be reached at

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