This posting covers the second half of my hike, returning from the Hobart Road junction of the Tahoe Rim Trail to Spooner Summit via Marlette Lake and Spooner Lake. This part of the hike included many photo-ops, thanks to great hiking trails, beautiful weather, and spectacular Fall colors. An overview of the route is shown in the GPS track. Most of this sequence of trails is within Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park.
This part of the hike began when I turned off the Tahoe Rim Trail and headed down Hobart Road (or its continuation) roughly southwest toward the eastern shore of Marlette Lake. Less than a mile down the dirt road there is a vista point overlooking Marlette Lake, with Lake Tahoe in the background. Of course the elevation is much lower than Snow Valley Peak, so the perspective is different, but still magical with Marlette Lake floating above Lake Tahoe. (The elevation difference is nearly 1600 feet.)
As the road descends further to lake level it passes through forests of aspens. I had been hoping that the aspens would be as beautiful as described in guide books (for example, see the last chapter in this Wildflower Trail guide). This was my lucky day!
I happened to encounter a shallow puddle with just a few recently fallen leaves floating in the water above previously fallen comrades.
As I approached the shore of Marlette Lake I noticed that there were very slight waves in the water and the sunlight created striking sparkly reflections.
This was an initial indication that, at 3:30 in the afternoon, the angle of the sunlight might create other interesting visual effects. After walking around the southern tip of the lake to the west side, the sunlight was coming over the ridge between Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe, providing nearly sideways lighting to the famous stands of aspens on the east shore.
Then I suddenly realized that, from certain vantage points, the colorful trees on the opposite shore combined with the brilliant blue sky to create beautiful patterns on the surface of the lake.
I walked up and down the lower lake shore several times, just enjoying the scenery and the day, before beginning the return hike along the Marlette Lake and North Canyon Trails. A short distance up the trail I startled a couple of deer I had not noticed a little ways ahead of me. After climbing about 400 feet the trail descends steadily back to Spooner Lake. All along the North Canyon Trail there were many stands of aspens, all in brilliant color. There was a slight breeze, which stirred up the familiar sound and sense of motion that gives rise to the term quaking aspens.
It seems that the entire North Canyon is full of aspens – most evident during the height of splendid color in the Fall. This was a striking stand in the lower canyon area approaching Spooner Lake.
To return to my car I walked part way around Spooner Lake, a small, pretty lake at the northeast part of the NV-28 US-50 intersection at Spooner Junction. By now the sun was a bit lower in the sky, and the side-lighting of the aspens was striking.
How can I sum up this hike? – Quite simply, a most beautiful example of one of my favorite Lake Tahoe area hikes.