Tahoe National Forest


If you're stuck in the dry heat of the Sacramento Valley summer, the mountains of the Tahoe National Forest seem like Shangri-Lacool green beacons to adventure. The Forest offers a kaleidoscope of landscapes from deep river canyons to high peaks. Expect panoramic views, meadows of wildflowers, and forest of firs, hemlocks and hardwoods. A lot of this area lies in historic gold country, and its easy imagine that these hills could make you rich. But gambler-friendly Nevada is the next state over. If you want a crack at filling your pockets, go there. If you want to replenish your heart, stick around the forest. In our opinion, it's a better investment.

Elevations within the forest vary from about 1,500 feet in the foothills to over 9,000 feet at the Sierra Crest. The forest is located northeast of Sacramento in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains and extends from Lake Tahoe to north of the prominent Sierra Buttes. Several highways, including Interstate Highway 80, State Highways 20, 49, 89, and 267 and forest roads, provide access to most portions of the Forest. Many of the scenic roads are worth a trip in themselves.

In addition to the paved roadways for road bikes, there are miles of old logging roads and other trails that are ideal for mountain biking.

As you'd expect, hiking in the forest is hard to beat. The forest's one wilderness Granite Chief is smack dab next to the renowned Desolation Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses both on one of its most magnificent stretches.

Contrary to its name, Lake Tahoe is not actually in Tahoe National Forest, though it is in hollering distance. The North Fork American River is one famous waterbody that is in the forest. This river was designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System in 1978. The diversity of the unique river canyon can be seen in its deep, vertical-walled gorges and high bluffs; in its placid pools and cascading rapids; and through its mixture of conifer and hardwood forests. The river has it allgood fishing in uncrowded conditions, backpacking, swimming, photography, gold panning, and more.

Anglers frequent the many rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs of the forest. They're after rainbow, German brown, and eastern brook trout, and may find Mackinaw, kokanee salmon, and kamloop trout.

The Forest maintains many public campgrounds. Nearly all have fireplaces, tables, water, and toilets. Swimming beaches, boat launches, riding stables, and other commercial services are accessible from a number of campgrounds.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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