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Tahoe Rim Trail: The Official Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers, and Equestrians

Tahoe Rim Trail: The Official Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers, and Equestrians

by Tim Hauserman

Paperback(4th Revised ed.)

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Experience the Unparalleled Beauty of Lake Tahoe and Its Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a recreational paradise, taking hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians through three wilderness areas, as well as national forests and state park lands. It provides access to an incredible diversity of geology, flora, and fauna—and, of course, miles of unbeatable views of the area along the border of California and Nevada.

The most important part of your trip is planning it. Author Tim Hauserman first hiked the complete Tahoe Rim Trail in 1999 and has since circumnavigated it three times. Put his expertise to use. Get the most from your time on the trail, and safely traverse a landscape rich in history and alive with nature. Tahoe Rim Trail presents the entire 165-mile trail (and dozens of side trips), divided into 8 sections.

The new edition features:

  • Updated maps and trail descriptions
  • Information on difficulty, trail highlights, driving directions, and more
  • Dozens of side trips and historical highlights
  • Descriptions of the flora and fauna you will see
  • Hundreds of tips for planning your excursion, whether it’s a day hike or a backpacking adventure
  • Specific guidance for mountain bikers, equestrians, and anglers

Get the definitive resource for Lake Tahoe’s crown jewel; it’s endorsed by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899979601
Publisher: Adventure Publications, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/07/2020
Edition description: 4th Revised ed.
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 719,171
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Tim Hauserman has been a resident of North Lake Tahoe since 1960. He has hiked and biked in the area for many years and has been a guide for Tahoe Trips and Trails (a private excursion company) and the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. A member of the Tahoe Rim Trail Board of Directors from 1998 to 2007, he became the 11th member of the Tahoe Rim Trail 165 Mile Club in 1999. His other books include Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children, Gertrude’s Tahoe Adventure’s in Time (a children’s book), and Cross- Country Skiing in the Sierra Nevada. He also writes for a variety of local and regional publications. Tim lives on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, where he likes to hike, bike, cross-country ski, kayak, and canoe.

Read an Excerpt

SECTION 6: Big Meadow to Echo Summit

Trail Description

THE TRAIL STARTS OUT at the lowest point in the Big Meadow Trailhead parking lot (southwest end). You walk about 250 yards through a forest of white fir, Jeffrey pine, and juniper before crossing CA 89. Once you cross the road the trail starts south. It is moderately steep, taking you uphill over rocky terrain through a thicker forest of Jeffrey pine, western white pine, and fir. After a little more than 0.2 mile you pass to the left of Big Meadow Creek, whose bed is filled with huge granite boulders and lined with aspen trees. At 0.3 mile from the trailhead the grade moderates, becoming almost level as you walk close to a stream on the right that is surrounded in the fall by the yellow leaves of aspen trees. Stop and close your eyes, and listen to the quaking sound that gives the aspen its name.

Soon you reach a junction. A left turn here would take you to Scotts Lake. Your trail, however, continues straight ahead to a large flat meadow with the new and original name Big Meadow. Just as you enter the meadow, the trail crosses a stream, which is good-sized in the spring but may dry up in late summer. This is, of course, Big Meadow Creek. As you head south across the meadow, you are treated to views of the surrounding mountains to the southwest. As the meadow is only 0.7 mile from the trailhead, you can reach it in half an hour and enjoy a wonderful setting.

After you cross the meadow, the trail heads uphill again through the fairly dense forest of lodgepole, western white pine, and red fir. The tree cover thins now and then as you pass through more-open and sunny areas with sagebrush and a variety of wildflowers, including lupine, mule-ears, prettyface, and pennyroyal. You now occasionally pass through small meadows and groves of aspen trees, although for the most part this is a climb through a conifer forest. About 1 mile past the meadow, you reach a saddle and head 0.25 mile downhill on steep trail that affords you great mountain views to the south and west. At 2 miles from the trailhead you reach a junction. To your right, the Meiss Meadows Trail (signed Christmas Valley) will take you to Dardanelles Lake in 1.4 miles (see Side Trip “Dardanelles Lake,” opposite).

On the TRT you continue straight ahead and begin a gentle ascent through some very interesting volcanic rock formations, including lots of huge boulders of conglomerate that look like they were tossed haphazardly by a giant. At 2.6 miles from the trailhead (and 0.6 mile from the last junction), you reach the northeast corner of Round Lake. This lake is the largest you will encounter on this section of trail, and it offers great swimming and camping. The best campsite is at the lake’s northwest corner by the outlet, but the lake can get crowded on a sunny summer weekend. Thanks to an influx of volcanic sediments, Round Lake’s color varies from a brownish green to an unusual aqua blue that is more reminiscent of the lakes and streams of western Canada than it is of most of the lakes in the Sierra. As you walk past Round Lake, a spectacular steep cliff of volcanic rock reaches skyward on your left. You will have the pleasure of gazing at this fascinating rock formation, known as the Dardanelles, from several locations as you complete your hike.

Just after Round Lake you pass a small seasonal stream and lush meadow area rife with willows and wildflowers, including lupine, monkshood, Lewis’s monkeyflower, paintbrush, ranger’s buttons, and groundsel. You then ascend for about 0.5 mile through fine volcanic rock and sparse forest to an open area with aspen and sagebrush that provides views of the volcanic ridgeline to your west. The next 0.5 mile or so is a pleasant, mostly level walk through wildflowers and scattered aspen groves quaking in the wind. Beautiful mountain views are available in every direction. You begin a gentle ascent into a forest of scattered conifers and then head downhill again past a luscious meadow with more mountain views to the east before you reach the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 4.9 miles from the Big Meadow Trailhead. Across the large open meadow, you will see two charming cowboy cabins built around 1880 by the Meiss family, for whom the meadows were named. They lived here while grazing their cattle through the 1930s, when they sold the land to the Schneider Family (the Schneider Cow Camp is a few miles southwest). The land was acquired for the U.S. Forest Service in 1965, but cattle grazing continued until around 2000. You cannot enter the cabins, but a use trail leads to an information plaque next to them.

You have now reached the PCT, which extends from Canada to Mexico. If Mexico is your goal, turn left, and in a few months you will be there. If you would prefer heading up to Canada, turn right. Either way, it’s a long trip. This junction is located at the southernmost point of the Tahoe Rim Trail, and as you turn right at the junction, you begin heading north. For about the next 50 miles, the PCT and TRT are one trail. In addition to the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail, your footpath was once a part of the little-used, unofficial Tahoe-Yosemite Trail (TYT), which traveled from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite to Meeks Bay on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, a distance of a little more than 185 miles. Now more of an idea than a trail, the TYT leaves the TRT north of Middle Velma Lake and heads over Phipps Pass, past a chain of lakes known as the Tallant Lakes, down to Meeks Bay....

Table of Contents


Note for the Fourth Edition


Overview Map

Map Legend

1. Introduction to the Tahoe Area and the Tahoe Rim Trail

2. Animals and Plants, Great and Small

3. Let’s All Get Along: A Trail for Everyone

4. Weather, Water, and When to Go

5. Fun for All: A User’s Guide to the Tahoe Rim Trail

6. Trail Descriptions

  • SECTION 1: Tahoe City to Brockway Summit, 19.1 miles
  • SECTION 2: Brockway Summit to Mount Rose, 20.3 miles
  • SECTION 3: Tahoe Meadows to Spooner Summit, 23.1 miles
  • SECTION 4: Spooner Summit to Kingsbury Grade, 19.4 miles
  • SECTION 5: Kingsbury Grade to Big Meadow, 23.7 miles
  • SECTION 6: Big Meadow to Echo Summit, 15.7 miles
  • SECTION 7: Echo Summit and Echo Lake to Barker Pass, 32.7 miles from Echo Lake, 34.9 miles from Echo Summit
  • SECTION 8: Barker Pass to Tahoe City, 16.7 miles

7. Other Tahoe-Area Hiking and Biking Trails

Appendix A: Resources

Appendix B: Mileages for the Tahoe Rim Trail

Appendix C: Tim’s Top Five Places on the Trail

Appendix D: Ways to Save Lake Tahoe

Appendix E: Leave No Trace Principles


About the Author

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