Still mixed conditions on some Lake Tahoe trails following big winter, mild spring |

Still mixed conditions on some Lake Tahoe trails following big winter, mild spring

J.P. Kelsey
Lower Echo Lake has thawed out large portions over the past several weeks. USFS encourages anyone hiking this area to bring the proper gear and exercise caution.
Courtesy/ Brian Homberger |

Within less than two weeks, the basin went from winter weather to full-blown summertime temps. It seems that Lake Tahoe got the memo about it officially being summer today. If you’ve ventured out to just about anywhere around the area, you might have noticed more and more people filtering in and heading outdoors.

The good news is that there are more areas melting out, but on the other hand, there are still many areas that might be difficult to navigate. According to some recent U.S. Forest Service observations, several lake-level areas are shaping up nicely for some hikes. Others remain problematic.

One of the easiest trails to get to and through is the Power Line Trail that runs parallel to Pioneer Trail. The trail can be done in short increments or the whole loop. The hike will take you about 7 miles round trip to Oneidas Street. An easy access point is atop Ski Run Boulevard.

On the Nevada side of the lake, lower portions of the Tahoe Rim Trail have miles of clear hiking. Trail access can be found by following Kingsbury to Andria Drive. There are a few options for distance, too. If you want to do something short, the Castle Rock hike is just a few miles. If you’re looking to spend the whole day hiking, the Spooner Summit trail will take you about 11 miles north and stays mostly clear.

More eastward, toward the Echo Lake areas, there’s a mixed bag of conditions and USFS officials say anyone entering these areas should proceed with caution. USFS rangers spent the past week observing areas around the South Shore and saw some snow and some cleared areas.

Wilderness Ranger Brian Homberger went out to the areas and said that Lower Echo Lake is just about completely thawed and should continue to do so as temperatures stay at consistently warm levels. Upper Echo, according to Homberger, still has moderate amounts of snow in north facing and shaded spots.

The hike from Lower Echo to Upper Echo is about 5 miles in distance and gives a little taste of a backcountry hike without the several feet of snow. It’s still advised to prepare for snow on portions of this trail, and be aware of any running water that crosses the trail.

Just above Echo Lake, Lake Aloha is melting out quickly and conditions are improving. When approaching the Desolation Wilderness boundary from Echo Lake, there is much snow left on the trail and what is melting has caused streams of water to pass over parts of the trail.

Bayview Trail, below Emerald Bay, has some areas that are clear and some not so much. According to USFS Wilderness Ranger Shannon Macguire’s recent trip to the area, the route from the Bayview Trailhead to Granite Lake is clear, but as elevation increases, so does the snow.

Just north of the Bayview Trail, the Eagle Lake Trail is thawed and open for hikes. A short jaunt of about 2 miles, the trail ends to views at Eagle Lake.

And lastly, the Mount Tallac hiking trail has been clearing, but anyone looking to make it to the top will have to deal with snow. The first few miles of the trail are open, but once reaching Floating Island Lake, snow begins and continues. Watching for running water is also advised in this area.

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