Snowshoeing: 5 epic trails for wintry adventure at Tahoe

Claire McArthur
Tahoe Daily Tribune


Picture this: It’s a bluebird day, and you’re snowshoeing beneath snow-capped pine trees as mountain chickadees flit from branches, and the sun shines brightly from above.

All you can hear is the crunch of the powder beneath your feet as you traverse the forest in search of high-elevation views of Big Blue. It’s alpine magic.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area has groomed and singletrack trails to explore.
Tahoe Donner Association

Whether you’re looking for relaxing or rigorous, there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore across the Tahoe-Truckee region that will give you just that experience. Here are a few favorites:

Fallen Leaf Lake, South Lake Tahoe

Fallen Leaf Lake on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore is worth a visit no matter the season. After the golden aspen leaves fall and snow dusts the mountaintops looming around the clear blue lake, strap on your snowshoes and prepare to choose your own adventure.

While taking in views of Mount Tallac’s iconic snow-filled cross, follow the 8.1-mile trail circling the lake, or turn the trail into an out-and-back trek with a distance of your choosing.

Pack a lunch and enjoy the warm winter sun and colorful rocks from a beachside bench or log. A Sno-Park permit is required, and can be purchased online for $5 a day or $25 for the season.

Poles can be a welcome addition when snowshoeing for added stability and traction.
Tahoe Donner Association

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center, Truckee

Tahoe Donner has over 60 miles of groomed trails and 7 miles of single track snowshoe routes to explore in Truckee. Meander through wide-open meadows, beside tranquil creeks and along tree-lined trails leading to beautiful views of the Sierra Crest.

Tahoe Donner also offers lessons and guided tours to learn all about the flora and fauna of the area. A day pass is required to use the trails, and snowshoers are asked to keep to the edges of the trails to avoid cross-country skiers.

Paige Meadows, Tahoe City

Just south of Tahoe City lies Paige Meadows, an idyllic open space with a number of interconnected trails to explore by snowshoe.

On a full moon, the meadow is also an excellent spot to get out for some moonlit snowshoeing, best capped by a thermos full of steaming hot toddies to share.

Spooner Lake, Glenbrook

Circle the (likely) frozen Spooner Lake for a 2.5-mile, easy trek through aspen stands and past informative placards on the area’s history and wildlife.

It’s a great option for a family snowshoe outing to accommodate all skill levels. Parking is available at the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park lot off of State Route 28.

Castle Peak, Truckee

For a challenge and stunning views, trek the 6-mile, out-and-back trail to Castle Peak located at 9,100 feet just outside of Truckee.

To reach the three turrets for which the peak earned its name, you’ll climb 1,811 feet, so poles in addition to snowshoes are recommended to improve traction and stability.

As you near the top, the trees thin out and you’re rewarded with panoramic views of Round Valley and mountainous terrain as far as the eye can see.

PRO TIP: Download the app AllTrails to get the latest trail conditions and photos from fellow trekkers, directions to the trailhead, and a map of the route.

Editor’s Note: This article appears in the 2020-21 edition of Tahoe Magazine, a sister publication to the Tribune.

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