Ready, Set… Let the Hiking Season Begin! Tunnel Creek Trail

montrail4Spring has sprung, ski resorts are closing and to Lake Tahoe residents and visitors that means it’s time to take a hike!  I am thrilled for this time of year when the snow melts from the high Sierra’s granting more and more access to backcountry terrain for  summer exploring on foot to begin.  As a resident of North Lake Tahoe one of my favorite hikes nearby is Tunnel Creek, a favorite amongst locals for its convenient access, great work out and of course, the unparalleled views!

Tunnel Creek offers unbelievable views as you ascend trails hovering above some of the most spectacular and scenic shores of Lake Tahoe above Highway 28, Hidden Beach Unknownand Sand Harbor State Park off in the distance.  Not only does the trail offer spectacular views, but it’s also a fantastic workout!  To access the trailhead simply park across the street from the old Bonanza parking lot on Highway 28 just as you leave Incline Village traveling towards South Lake Tahoe (if you reach Hidden Beach trail head on Highway 28 you have gone too far). Today there is the new Tunnel Creek Station which includes Flume Trail Bikes and the Tunnel Creek Cafe making the entrance to the hike easier to spot.  Park along the shoulder of the highway, there is no public parking allowed in the lot nor along Tunnel Creek Road itself for hikers.   The Tunnel Creek Trail also connects with the world famous Flume Trail, which eventually connects with the Tahoe Rim Trail, making this trail a multipurpose access point to many Lake Tahoe adventures!

IMG_7294To begin the hike, cross Highway 28, walk towards the Tunnel Creek Station along Tunnel Creek Road and climb the short paved road/driveway.  After a few hundred yards you will reach a flat, sandy trail that stretches for about a 1/4 mi above Highway 28 until you reach the official trailhead shown on the right.  From here it is a fairly steep uphill climb for about a mile along a dirt path under shaded pine trees.  The next mile+ of the trail is the most enjoyable of the hike offering a windy, sandy trail along the East shore with unobstructed views of the Lake Tahoe and the beautiful shores below.  The mostly flat and clear trail also make it perfect for trail running if you want an extra workout.  Towards the end of this portion of the trail it enters a shaded, wooded area which leads away from the Lake and continues on to the Flume Trail and is where most hikers turn around.

5051203881_8c91508e30_oI most enjoy hiking the Tunnel Creek Trail early in the morning or later in the afternoon, during spring and fall.  During these times the trail is less crowded, especially with mountain bikers.  Since this trail is connected to the Flume Trail, it can become heavily congested with mountain bikers racing down the trail so be sure to be on alert.  Also, much of the trail is exposed so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring additional coverings to avoid sunburns.  The Tunnel Creek Trail is also an excellent location to catch sunset views over the ridges across the Lake during evening hikes.

If you enjoy hiking in Lake Tahoe, share your favorite hiking trail in the comments below and whether or not you have hiked the Tunnel Creek trail!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Photo Credit 1, Photo Credit 2, Photo Credit 3, Photo Credit 4

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Lake Tahoe Snowmobiling: A Winter Adventure for Everyone

170When I moved to Lake Tahoe three years ago I had never been on a snowmobile and honestly I really didn’t have an interest to.  I shared the notion that snowmobiling was only for speed addicts and thrill seekers, mostly young guys in their teens and twenties.  Then, I had the opportunity to take my first snowmobile adventure with Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours and boy, was I proven wrong!

I learned that snowmobiling is a great, family-friendly and group activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and level of adventure seekers.  I especially learned that snowmobiling is also one of the best ways for non-skiers and non-snowboarders to explore the Tahoe National Forest during the winter.   From the seat of a snowmobile, riders enjoy the treasured high altitude views of Lake Tahoe and surrounding basin that is usually accessible only to those on the ski resort summits, slopes and chairlifts.   SnowmobilingTourArea

Here I want to expose you in particular to the great services of Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours who originally introduced me to snowmobiling and has taken well care of me ever since.  Located at the top of Brockway Summit on Highway 267, Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours has over 25 years of experience and access to over 100 miles of trails in the Tahoe National Forest that offer guests spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  It is also known for having the largest fleet of newer snowmobiles on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore and offers three tours daily including personalized private snowmobile tours all with your own local tour guide.
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Their tours offer the best views of Lake Tahoe including a view of the entire Lake from the top of Robin's favMt. Watson at an elevation of 8200 ft. along with views of Northstar California, Squaw Valley and Alpine Ski Resort.  Besides views, tours include a visit to Watson Lake where riders are able blow off steam and let the snowmobiles loose while speeding around the lake in a race track pattern.  Tours also include an otherwise inaccessible climb up the steep backside of Mt. Pluto to its summit at Northstar California and ascend on The Summit Deck & Grille perfect for après hot beverages. 

My local tip – arrange a private tour!  Private tours allow you to get the most out of your experience and time.  Also, the guides at Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours are experts on the surrounding area and enjoy getting to know their guests and their preferences, which they can do more easily in the smaller group setting of a private tour.  Plus, private tours allow them the opportunity to get creative – perfect for arranging birthday, anniversary and even wedding proposal surprises right out there in Tahoe National Forest! 

559673_430348207047292_1581521082_nA few housekeeping items that I would like to share to best prepare you for your next snowmobile adventure are:  tours accommodate all level of riders, reservations are recommended especially during peak holidays, children must be at least 5 years old and drivers 16 years old with valid driver license and check-in is promptly one hour prior to your tour.  Don’t have winter wear? No worries!  Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours has a winter clothing package for an extra $10 for ski jackets, pants and gloves.  Helmets and goggles are provided to all riders.

Please share in the comments below if you’re ready to try snowmobiling on your next visit to Lake Tahoe!  If you enjoy learning local tips of Lake Tahoe, I invite you to follow my blog and me at @robinpenning on Twitter to receive more information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Photo Credits:  All photos courtesy of Jodi Demko