Snowshoe trails near Tahoe - Squaw and Northstar

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Snowshoe trails near Tahoe - Squaw and Northstar

Post by s0rce » Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:00 pm

I'm new to Sierra hiking/snowshowing (been living in WA the last few years) and I'm going to be heading out to Tahoe, staying near Northstar with some colleagues from work. I'm looking to get out into the back country for some snowshoeing in addition to resort skiing. I've found a few list of x-country ski and snowshoe trails but nothing looks terribly exciting. I'm hoping to get some advice for other options for the group here. I was wondering if there were trails out of the Squaw valley high camp from the top of the gondola? I don't have any formal mountaineering experience and won't have an ice axe so I'm not looking for technical ascents or risky avalanche terrain. Just some nice 5-10 mile snowshoe routes in the area that should be safe. Ideally with some nice high alpine views and not too many designated x-country ski trails that I'd have to worry about stomping.

I've got the White book, Snowshoe trails of California, this has some good looking trails, like the 5 lakes basin but I haven't really found recent trip reports for the local terrain (The Washington Trails Association website was always a great resource for WA, I wish there was something like this for California). Any other suggestions would be great!

Thanks very much,

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Re: Snowshoe trails near Tahoe - Squaw and Northstar

Post by Tom_H » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:17 pm

Spooner State Park up North Canyon to Marlette Lake is nice. There are usually nordic tracks already there. Snow Valley Peak is a nice view. You can climb it if avalanche conditions are not present and telemark down. It is not an official XC trail and you don't need to worry about ruining existing XC tracks. Snowshoers have just as much right to access.

Hwy 89 at Grass Lake just south of Tahoe is very nice for both snowshoeing and nordic skiing. Also Hope Valley and Silver Lake. The frozen surface of Silver Lake makes great XC skiing.

Tahoe Meadows on NV Hwy 431 just before you get to Mt. Rose Summit.

Of course you can always pay money and go to Royal Gorge, one of the top nordic resorts in North America. It has snowshoe trails as well.

Finding high alpine views on desolate routes while avoiding the need for mountaineering gear is a bit of a challenge. Hope Valley might be your best bet for beauty without the need for mountaineering gear. Snow has not compacted as much as it will in the spring and an ice axe would be less effective at this time of year as it will in the spring and early summer.

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