Forget the gear on hike to wilderness cabins |

Forget the gear on hike to wilderness cabins

If you like the idea of staying overnight in the backcountry but don’t feel up to toting a heavy pack, this is the trek for you.

It’s not all that much of a hike, either three-quarters of a mile or about two miles on easy terrain. But the rewards are comfort in the Sierra Nevada with some magnificent views and as close to sheer comfort as you’ll ever find in the mountains.

We’re talking about the Lake Tahoe Wilderness Cabins, two hand-hewn, Scandinavian style beauties set in the forest above Spooner Pass. You access them from the Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area off State Route 28 just past the turnoff from U.S. Highway 50.

The cabins are operated by Max Jones and Patti McMullan under special permit from the Nevada State Parks. The duo also operate the Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area in the winter during which the cabins are also available.

There are lots of hiking and biking trails in the area, some leading over toward Incline Village and past Marlette Lake, others off toward the Tahoe Rim Trail back about a mile from the State Route 28 turnoff.

The Spooner Lake Cabin is the closest to the parking area and the walk along a gentle trail is easy enough for the office worker who hasn’t done anything more demanding than opening desk drawers all season. It sits on a knoll above the north side of Spooner Lake. It sleeps two to four persons in comfort, two on a convertible sofa on the ground floor, two in the cozy loft.

Both cabins feature complete futon bedding, cooking utensils, a stock of teas, hot chocolate and coffees, a propane cooking stove, wood-burning stove, photovoltiac and propane lights, two gallons of water and a composing toilet.

While snacks and the above beverages are included, you’re expected to bring your own dinner and breakfast, not too much of a chore. Dishes and flatware are furnished, along with pots and fry pans. No refrigerator, of course, but there will be patches of snow for a while.

A deck with comfortable chairs offers plenty of space for lounging, sunning or just sitting and reading.

The Wild Cat Cabin is more of a hike, not to demanding but a bit more of an effort that the Spooner Lake facility. The two miles is largely a gentle uphill on a wide path. You may meet horses along the trail, bikers or other hikers. This is a popular part of the Sierra, after all.

But the cabin itself is well-isolated. Two routes lead to the cabin, one a hiker-only trek around some rocky knolls and then suddenly bursting out in the clear area around the cabin, where a flip sign announces if the cabin is occupied.

The other cabin is a bit farther along the trail and can be navigated by bikers if they don’t mind the steepness. In either event, getting to the cabin requires only a modest effort.

The Wild Cat Cabin offers a stupendous view of Lake Tahoe with Emerald Bay directly across the lake. And there are many choice spots around the cabin for framing photographs with trees or rocks of Emerald Bay.

Both cabins are charmingly decorated, and one of the bonus pleasures is reading through the guest book. One entry read:

“Came up here from the Bay Area after much hesitation. Over a bottle of champagne my guy finally popped the question. We shall always remember the Wild Cat cabin as our special place. We’ll be back to celebrate anniversaries.”

Read another: “I thought it would be stupid to come to a cabin without TV. But it was kinda nice, after all, being here with mom. Tommy, 9.”

Cabin rates are $75 a night single, $125 for two with $49 for each additional guest. Prices go up on weekends, $150 a night for two.

For information call (888) 858-8844 or (775) 887-8844. The web site is and e-mail is

When you go, prepare for one of the most delightful experiences around Lake Tahoe.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User