Take a Hike: Van Sickle Trail offers breathtaking views of Stateline, South Shore
Van Sickle Bi-State Park is located on Heavenly Village Way near Heavenly Village. From Lake Tahoe Boulevard, turn south at Heavenly Village Way toward Lake Parkway and proceed through gate. Limited parking is available from sunrise to sundown, and parking is open May 1 to Oct. 31, weather permitting.
Van Sickle Bi-State Park offers hiking on both sides of the California-Nevada border — and stunning panoramic views of the South Shore. A moderate five-mile jaunt along the trail, which is easily accessible from Heavenly Village, takes hikers and bikers into each state, and eventually high above the landmarks along Stateline.
Easy early: The first quarter-mile from the parking lot presents a wide trail with little elevation gain. An early vista point appears on the right, and those willing to climb a few rocks get the first panoramic view of Lake Tahoe and Mt. Tallac — a nice scene despite not being above the tree line.
Enjoy the view: After about a half-mile, a trailhead provides two options — turn left to continue on the Van Sickle Trail as it swivels up and narrows. Lake Tahoe comes increasingly into view on the left, and after a slight increase in elevation views of the South Shore are almost completely unobstructed.
Falling water: Stateline and Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course are clearly visible in tandem at the mile mark before the trail turns away from the lake. A quarter-mile later, a small waterfall breaks up the trail — it can be heard before it comes into view and actually has rushing water, if only a small amount.
Higher and higher: The trail is more covered following the waterfall, narrowing and winding in the shade. At the two-and-a-quarter-mile mark, one last view from high above the South Shore offers clear views of Zephyr Cove and sprawling Nevada terrain.
Slight detour: On the way back down, take the other option off the trailhead for the Cal-Neva Loop. Less than a quarter-mile into the trail, catch a good view of South Lake Tahoe and Mt. Tallac from atop a group of rocks — turn around there or finish the loop with a downhill stretch that connects back with Van Sickle Trail.
Trail notes: The sandy trail varies in width and is clearly identified and marked with trailheads for the first mile. It’s open to hikers, bikers and for equestrian use. The trail is open year round, but the parking lot is only open from May to October. The above hike took a little more than two hours at a moderate pace.
FOR THE MORE ADVENTUROUS
The Van Sickle Trail connects with the Tahoe Rim Trail after about three-and-a-half miles. Those looking for a longer-distance challenge can use Van Sickle to access the 168-mile trail that loops around Lake Tahoe.
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In “Powder Days,“ author Heather Hansman looks at past, present and very uncertain future of ski town life.