This hike took place in the Lake Tahoe area during the Fourth of July weekend. I was trying to think of a trail that would not still have significant remnants of the winter’s unusually plentiful snowfall; most trails above the 7000 foot elevation still seemed to have enough snow to be impassable at some point. I did the hike with a friend who suggested the Pole Creek Trail which, like many others in the area, is within Tahoe National Forest. The trailhead is just off CA-89 near the 6000 foot elevation sign south of Truckee on the way to Tahoe City. My friend characterized this trail as “a tad aerobic” – translation: we’d be climbing pretty steadily. The weather was great for a hike – warm enough to hike in shorts and a tank top – and, if we did encounter snow, it would be refreshingly cool.
The trail winds and climbs through the forest, crossing Pole Creek twice, on a forest road. In the winter this is a great snowshoe or cross country ski trail, if you’re up for a steady climb.
About 3 miles up the road we encountered a gate and a sign indicating that the continuation of the road (to again intercept Pole Creek) was closed due to the breeding season of a particular toad, so we continued on a side road/trail. Although the continuation of the main forest road does not show on the GPS track, this intersection is just after the hairpin turn where our track leaves the immediate creek area for the remainder of the hike.
Shortly after this intersection we were treated to a great view, which I think is Billys Peak in the foreground and Tinker Knob in the background.
We encountered several snow piles on the trail which were easy to hike across. Eventually, though, at about 7600 feet elevation, we found a bigger snow pile on the trail that forced us to turn around.
According to the recreational trail map the trail does continue for at least another half mile, but we were unable to determine where it emerged from the snow. On our way back down the trail, we noticed several groups of snowplants.
This is one of the first wildflowers to appear after the snow melts. The color is especially striking after the long season of annual snowfall. In the Sierras, once the snow season really gets started, the ground does not reappear again until the following spring. This year, spring arrived later than usual at the higher elevations.