The Tahoe Rim Trail

By Tim Hauserman
Lake Tahoe
View of Lake Tahoe (Photo © Photodisc)

Then it seemed to me the Sierra should not be called the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years spent in the heart of it, rejoicing and wondering, bathing in its glorious floods of light, seeing the sunbursts of morning among the icy peaks, the noonday radiance on the trees and rocks and snow, the flush of the alpenglow, and a thousand dashing waterfalls with their marvelous abundance of irised spray, it still seems to be above all others the Range of Light, themost divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.

-John Muir, 1912

An enormous, deep-blue, subalpine lake surrounded by lofty, snowcapped peaks. Lush, green forests, dark volcanic peaks, stark granite faces and hundreds of small, jewel-like lakes adorning the wilderness areas above this special lake. Should someone build a loop trail here? Absolutely! In fact it is quite remarkable that the trail was completed only as recently as September 2001. If a loop trail should have been built anywhere in the world, this was the place.

The now 164-mile Tahoe Rim Trail circles one of the world's most beautiful lakes, and winds through two states, several wilderness areas, National Forest and state park lands, and an incredible diversity of geology, flora, and fauna. The trail accesses both the Sierra Nevada and its Carson Range spur, each with a unique personality. It winds through aspen meadows, skirts high mountain peaks, and runs for miles along ridgetops with stunning views. You can walk for miles under a forested canopy, or saunter through meadows. You can venture above treeline for long stretches. That the trail is a big loop, a circle, may be its best feature. Wherever you set off, as the days and weeks go by, you can follow the circle back to where you began. Across the big, blue expanse of the lake, you can pick out where you were a week ago, and where you will be again in another week. A multi-use path, much of the Tahoe Rim Trail was constructed for the pleasure of hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers, using modern trail-building techniques, with the goal to not exceed an average grade of 10 percent.


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