Walk this way
There are ways to see the scenic South Shore that don’t require a lot of motivation, waffle-stomping boots, full pack, ice ax, poles, compass or even a map.
The Jewel of the Sierra, as Lake Tahoe is called, is sprinkled with walking paths geared toward the leisurely stroll. Many people use these routes to focus on nature, to do a minimal amount of exercise that doesn’t require scaling the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and to connect one destination to another.
Some walking paths are so ingrained in the Tahoe terrain, they’re not even named – as in the case of the Nevada trail off Kahle Drive across Highway 50 from Burger King.
Burke Creek runs through the marshy meadow deemed one of the highlights of the route that takes a full hour to walk the 2-mile round trip.
The trail is undergoing a U.S. Forest Service-ordered revamp that includes a paved parking lot with handicapped spots, an overlay of crushed gravel on the path and a 100-foot wooden bridge through the meadow. The marshy low spot was flooded during Tahoe’s harsh winter storms, washing away the standard planks left to help walkers negotiate the stream.
The parking lot is expected to be paved next Friday, and the job is due to be done by mid October, URS Construction crew worker Tom Lake reported Thursday.
In the time the crew has been working in the area, it’s seen many walkers who frequent the area despite the torn up parking lot.
Victoria Diamond and Victoria Chrystaal take the path every morning as a halfway point between their homes in Marla Bay and Ski Run area, respectively.
The duo cultivated a friendship on the path after Chrystaal’s dog died and she struggled with depression. They met working together at the Royal Valhalla Lodge. Now she walks with Diamond’s 2-year-old Labrador retriever, Deja – as in Deja vu – to the lake.
The women also enjoy the natural surroundings of the path and have seen many ages of walkers – including seniors and the disabled who don’t necessarily want to negotiate rocky terrain.
“Did you smell the sage?” Chrystaal asked, while standing off the path.
This walking path is teeming with nature. On any given day, birds flock to the small pond near the trailhead, aspen leaves flutter like silver dollars in the wind, and the large meadow changes color as the time of day rolls on. The path leads to one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Tahoe – Nevada Beach, which invites even the most uptight person to sink toes in the sand.
A historic look
The path also has a history. Burke Creek lies close to remnants of the old Lincoln Highway, which was heavily used by wagons traveling between the silver mines of Virginia City and gold mines of the Placerville area.
So the two Victorias with the gem last names feel right at home.
In 1860, Martin “Friday” Burke grazed cattle and later commercially fished the area.
Today, visitation is king on this popular walking trail for local residents. And this isn’t the only place where walking paths rule. Some are busier than others.
Beauty, from shore to shore
Taylor Creek has two walking paths aimed at all ages and abilities. But the area is also more well known. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the visitor center alone attracts 107,000 people. Many of these people take the Rainbow Trail, a paved pathway with a lookout that offers a view of the meadow known as a bald eagle nesting ground. Birds of all types have stopped in the area – including a prairie falcon perched on the top limb of tree that stands next to the lookout.
For more wildlife come fall, the Rainbow Trail winds around to Taylor Creek where one can hop off the trail and stand a few feet from hundreds of kokanee salmon. The path ends up at the stream profile chamber where the spawning fish can be spotted a foot away behind a glass enclosure.
The dirt walking path at Taylor Creek – Lake of the Sky Trail – opens up to Lake Tahoe and serves as a favorite route for locals and visitors.
Jenny Harmer of Gardnerville often brings family members to the spot and Thursday was no different. Her son, Simon, and twin grandchildren, Polly and Jack, from Los Angeles, wore their beach clothes.
“It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s beautiful,” she said, adding the hike is ideal for the strolling types. “Often folks come who don’t know about the altitude and don’t want a strenuous hike.”
South Shore walking paths
1. Trail off Kahle Drive to Nevada Beach
2. Trail connecting Post Office off Al Tahoe Boulevard to Lake Tahoe Community College
3. Cove East next to Tahoe Keys Marina
4. Taylor Creek off Highway 89
5. Fallen Leaf Lake backside trail from campground to dam
6. Vikingsholm Trail off Highway 89 at Emerald Bay
Douglas County Parks and Recreation Trail Trekkers
Every Wednesday, 9 a.m.
Kahle Community Center
Walks span up to one hour and range from one to three miles