By Tim Hauserman
Fall at Lake Tahoe…you never know what you are going to get, but it is all good. This September we were treated to Summer Part Two with warm temperatures, light winds and with all those kids back in school, no crowds. The entire month was perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding and whatever else you wanted to do on Lake Tahoe. Even swimming in the lake remained somewhere between bracing and refreshing, instead of what it will soon be: bone chilling. It was a great month for hiking into Desolation Wilderness and dipping into the barely bearable waters of Fontanillis and Dicks Lakes, or enjoying those classic Tahoe locales that get a bit too busy in the summer, like Emerald Bay and the walk to Vikingsholm.
What’s up for October?
It could be more of the same, but more likely we are in for a cool down, which is just fine, because the crisp mountain air just adds to the beauty of a great Sierra tradition: the yellowing of the aspen trees. Granlibakken is just a four mile hike or mountain bike ride from one of the best places to see those fall colors: Page Meadows. The Tahoe Rim Trail passes just above the Treetop Adventure Park, and after an initial steep climb, gets more gentle before entering the first of a series of interconnected meadows all bordered by aspen trees. Each meadow displays it’s own version of fall paradise, and the combination of green meadow, colorful trees and Twin Peaks standing tall in the background is the stuff of good photos. Keep your eyes open for a Basque sheepherders oven constructed in the 1950s on the edge of the lowest meadow.
An easier route for mountain bikers to Page is to catch the trail behind the tennis courts which heads up to Rawhide Drive. From the top of Rawhide, follow the dirt road past the top of the Granlibakken ski lifts up to Page Meadows. Riders will enjoy the smooth riding conditions and after a mile of steady climbing, the trail begins to level out. Another half mile brings you to a right turn that takes you downhill, past a little snippet of meadow to a junction with the Tahoe Rim Trail. Here a right turn takes you back to Granlibakken and Tahoe City on the TRT. A left turn dishes out some of the best riding on the whole TRT, twisting and turning to the edge of the meadows.
Where else to find fall colors?
Marlette Lake, above the east shore, is one of my favorites. You can park at Spooner Lake, or head up Highway 50 about a half mile towards Carson City to the Tahoe Rim Trail parking area on the north side of the highway. From here your path takes you through a thick grove of aspens to Spooner Lake, where you follow the North Canyon Road to the Marlette Lake Trail. Four miles of hiking brings you to the aspen lined shore of Marlette Lake, along the route you enjoy views of the fall color bonanza that is Snow Valley.
Hope Valley and Blue Lakes Road is the place to go for a fall spin on your road bike. Begin at the junction of Highway 88 and 89 south of Meyers, and head towards Kirkwood through miles of lush yellowness. Looking for more? Take the lightly used Blue Lakes Road on its delightful 12 mile journey through some of the best terrain the high sierra has to offer. Wherever you choose to go, times a wasting. Before you know it instead of looking at yellows and reds in the Sierra, we will be looking at the cold white stuff. So carpe diem.
Tim Hauserman wrote the guidebook
to the Tahoe Rim Trail, the 3rd edition of which was published in August. He lives a stone’s throw from Granlibakken.