Reconnect with yourself, nature on North Lake Tahoe hikes | SierraSun.com

Reconnect with yourself, nature on North Lake Tahoe hikes

Pettit Gilwee
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; In todayand#8217;s fast-paced society, weand#8217;re connected 24-7 whether it be to the office or family. In North Lake Tahoe, turning off personal electronic devices is encouraged, especially on the regionand#8217;s many trails.

Deemed the mother of all hiking trails is the famed Tahoe Rim Trail. This 165-mile dirt path loops around the entire lake, following the ridges that bound the Tahoe Basin. It can be backpacked in its entirety in approximately 14 consecutive days. But the trail is also popular with day hikers and offers eight trailheads with trail segments that range from 12 to 33 miles in length. Shorter routes (out and back) are also available.

A popular Tahoe Rim Trail hike is the Mt. Rose Loop Trail off Highway 431. The hike is 5-6 miles roundtrip, starts at an elevation of 8,900 and tops out at 9,420 feet. This hike offers picturesque views of Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in the country, and a beautiful waterfall. The Tahoe Rim Trail Association, the volunteer-based organization that built and maintains the Tahoe Rim Trail, has a calorie counter on its web site for those needing a little extra incentive and#8212; with the Mt. Rose Loop burning 1,422 calories and taking about 3 hours. That beats the treadmill any day.

Speaking of waterfalls, Shirley Canyon in Squaw Valley is one of the best, if not the best, hikes to view spectacular waterfalls. This 4-mile roundtrip trail starts at Squaw Peak Road and follows Shirley Creek up and over boulders, past waterfalls to Shirley Lake. From there, you can turn around and head back or keep hiking up to Squaw Valley USAand#8217;s High Camp and take the cable car down for free (along with the family pooch).

There is nothing more rewarding than taking a dip in crystal, clear waters after a strenuous hike. Five Lakes, accessible via Alpine Meadows Road, is popular for this very reason. A 5-mile hike, on a well maintained trail, has a tough uphill that gives way to some of North Lake Tahoeand#8217;s most popular swimming holes, five serene alpine lakes.

A favorite hike for families, especially those with eager toddlers who want out of the car now!, is the easy 1-mile trek down to the historic Vikingsholm Castle on the West Shore. Hikers park at the Vikingsholm Castle parking lot on Highway 89 and then take a dirt path down to the castle, which offers daily tours in the summer. Itand#8217;s also a great spot for a packed picnic and offers up a sandy beach with fantastic views of Fannette Island, Lake Tahoeand#8217;s only island, and scenic Emerald Bay. This path is also stroller friendly.

For more information about hiking in North Lake Tahoe, including when and where to purchase wilderness permits, head to http://www.GoTahoeNorth.com. And, for the best bargains on lodging, check out the web siteand#8217;s Cool Deals, which is updated daily.

North Lake Tahoe is a 45-minute drive from the Reno Tahoe International Airport, two hours from Sacramento International Airport and just more than 3 hours from San Francisco International Airport. Visitor information centers are located at 380 N. Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City, Calif. and 969 Tahoe Blvd. in Incline Village, Nev. The North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureaus, Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, work together to promote North Lake Tahoe as a premier, year-round destination.