Searching for solitude on the East Shore |

Searching for solitude on the East Shore

Jonah M. Kessel/Sun News ServiceWillie Melia, 28, of Tahoe City strikes a pose on Snow Peak in front of ... no one. The lack of development, and abundance of trails on which to hike, bike or jog, make recreation on the East Shore a personal Sierra experience.

Lake Tahoe residents and visitors anxiously waiting for the remainder of the winter’s snowpack to melt to start summer recreation need to look no farther than Lake Tahoe’s sparsely developed East Shore.

The East Shore traditionally gets less snow than other sides of the lake, giving hikers, mountain bikers, fishermen, picnickers and horseback riders a jump start to the dry season.

“It’s awesome, especially for this early in the year,” said Incline Village resident Ross McMahan as he pedaled down the Flume Trail toward Spooner Lake.

Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, located a half mile from the junction of highways 50 and 28, acts as the southern entrance for much of the East Shore’s recreation.

The park charges a $6 day-use fee and $2 per bike for vehicles with more than four bikes. But the good news is that bathrooms are stocked with ample toilet paper at both Spooner and Marlette Lakes, as well as along the Flume Trail, making it well worth the expense.

An easy, two-mile trail circles Spooner Lake and has access to picnic tables and fishing.

Fishermen face stiff competition from each other, as well as from ospreys frequenting the area, which make shallow swoops over the lake.

“Even the ones you don’t hook end up going to someone,” said Stateline resident Bob Pelkola as he cast his line last Sunday afternoon.

Pelkola said that most of the Rainbow Trout he was releasing were in the 12- to 14-inch range, although he claimed, as most fishermen do, one topped out around 16 inches.

“I’ve caught too many to count. It’s been fun,” Pelkola said.

Activities other than fishing abound on the East Shore. Swimming is one activity best enjoyed somewhere other than Spooner Lake because of the “harmless yet pesky” leeches inhabiting the water, according to the Nevada Division of State Parks Web site.

For those seeking more challenging recreation, North Canyon Road provides access from the Spooner Lake parking lot to Marlette Lake Trail, Flume Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail.

The Marlette Lake Trail shadows the Flume Trail for much of the five-mile journey to picturesque Marlette Lake, a small jewel perched at high elevation. The moderately difficult hiking trail is well maintained and keeps a steady incline through Aspen trees and some impressive Lodgepole Pines until dropping down into the Marlette Lake Basin.

Patches of snow obscure some of trail in the basin but with daytime highs expected in the upper 60’s throughout the week, these small areas of snow should clear up quickly.

“This is a great family trail,” said Peter Starren, a resident of Carson City, during a run with his dog, Margee. “It’s easy, you can’t get lost.”

Dogs are allowed in the park but are required to be leashed.

The Flume Trail is wide, allowing mountain bikers to ride side by side for much of its length, which continues for nine miles past Marlette Lake until Tunnel Creek Road.

Jordan Jacob, a Mammoth Lakes resident, was experiencing the Flume Trail for the first time last weekend. He said it was “fun, but strenuous.”

“It’s awesome. We’ve never done it before. There’s nobody here,” said Jarry Jacob, also of Mammoth Lakes.

If views of Lake Tahoe are what you’re after, the Flume Trail provides access to the Tahoe Rim Trail via Snow Valley Peak. This trail breaks off from the Flume four miles north of the Spooner Lake parking lot. It is a steep hike that lasts for about a mile but the view from the top is spectacular.

Biking is not allowed on the Rim Trail from Spooner Summit north to Snow Valley Peak, but it is allowed from Snow Valley Peak to the Red House Flume Trail. Mountain biking is only allowed on the even numbered days towards Mt. Rose from the junction of the Rim Trail and the Red Flume Trail.

Horseback riders are also allowed on the Rim Trail.

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association recommends horse trailers be parked off Highway 50 on the north side of the road, a half mile east of Spooner Summit on the Carson City side.

While much of the Rim Trail is still covered in snow, the first four miles of the trail north of Spooner Summit is open with some scattered snow fields and the first five miles heading south from Spooner is also open, according to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s Web site.

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