Tackling Tahoe’s Rim Trail
Sun News Service
Tim Twietmeyer knows a little about the Tahoe Rim Trail. Two years ago, he ran, hiked and, toward the end, walked the entire 165-mile distance in a record time of 46 hours.
What has stuck with Twietmeyer since then wasn’t how tired he got ” though he was.
“It’s been more about how beautiful that trail was,” said Twietmeyer, 47, a five-time champion of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run who lives in Auburn. “That, and really, even though it was a huge challenge to do it all in less than two days, how easily it can be worked into a day hike, or something more if that’s what you want. It’s really a pretty versatile trail.”
Since its inception more than 25 years ago, the Tahoe Rim Trail has been thought of as a way to experience Tahoe’s beauty from its highest reaches.
The trail, which runs along the ridge tops of Lake Tahoe, actually can be compressed into several digestible parts. As Twietmeyer said, it’s the perfect outdoor resource for young families who simply want a few hours to frolic among the wildflowers, or for the hardened through-hiker who would like to spend several days amid Tahoe’s high-elevation splendor.
Here are three suggestions for hikers of beginning, intermediate and advanced abilities:
– Beginner ” Tahoe Meadows
Getting there: Located right off Highway 431, one mile west of Mount Rose summit.
This trailhead, at about 8,740 feet, is conveniently located and is the gateway to the Spooner Summit trailhead, 22.3 miles distant. Of course, if you’re a beginner, you need only follow the moderate to easy terrain out as far as you’d like. There are plenty of historical markers for the history buffs, as well as conifer stands and some of the better wildflower viewing you’ll find in the area. A bonus is the interpretive, handicap access 1-mile hike that takes you on a pleasant, flat and easy walk through Tahoe Meadows itself. Remember that water is scarce on this side of the TRT, so prepare accordingly.
– Intermediate ” Spooner Summit
Getting there: The Spooner Summit is on the south side of Highway 50 at the Spooner Summit sign.
Spooner Summit, at about 7,150 feet, offers some of the best viewing of Lake Tahoe. The trail hugs the rugged peaks of the Carson Range, taking hikers through acres of ancient firs as well as dramatic granite outcrops. Out-and-back is probably the best way to go on this hike, which does have some climbing involved. If you want to park another car, a challenging 12.2-mile one-way route will take you across the highway and headed south to Kingsbury Grade. Pay attention to the blue Tahoe Rim Trail signs, particularly as you head up South Camp Peak at 8,866 feet before you make the gentle descent to Kingsbury North (7,920 feet). Again, water is hard to find on this stretch of the trail, so bring plenty with you.
– Advanced ” Barker Pass to Tahoe City
Getting there: Starting from Barker Pass, take Highway 89 and turn on Blackwood Canyon Road, 4.25 miles south of Tahoe City. Follow around to the left 7.2 miles to the trailhead. There is a dirt parking lot with a vaulted toilet there. Starting from Tahoe City, trailhead is off the west side of Highway 89, about a quarter mile south of the junction with Highway 28. Paved parking in Truckee River Access and Recreation Lot. Follow bike path to south shore of river, then turn right through the Forest Service gate and onto gravel road for .3 miles. The TRT becomes a dirt path through the next gate.
Wildflowers are at a premium on this stretch of the TRT, which combines both the TRT and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Page Meadows, which is near Tahoe City, is one of the highlights with its abundant wildlife and wildflowers. The grade isn’t too tough; there are a few 10-percenters in there to get your blood flowing. During snow years, it takes a little longer for this area to become accessible on foot.
For more information on these trails or about the Tahoe Rim Trail, visit http://www.tahoerimtrail.org.
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