I had been looking forward to my first hike of the season on the Tahoe Rim Trail, in particular to hiking the new Van Sickle Tahoe Rim Trail Connector. This trail goes from Van Sickle Bi-State Park to the Tahoe Rim Trail within the new TRT section that bypasses the Kingsbury Grade residential area. I ended up hiking the entire connector trail and just a very short section on the TRT proper. It was my first time hiking the connector trail, which is a beautiful trail. Van Sickle Bi-State Park is partly in Nevada and partly in California, but this entire hike was within Nevada.
In the lower part of Van Sickle Bi-State Park there are several trails. The signage is excellent, particularly for following the connector trail (orange disks as in this picture).
The trail passes an area that was impacted by the 2002 Gondola Fire, which was started by a cigarette butt tossed from the Heavenly Valley gondola.
The connector trail climbs steadily from the trailhead all the way to the Tahoe Rim Trail.
About 0.45 mile from the trailhead there is a short spur trail to a vista point. A bit further, around 0.9 mile from the trailhead, there is a wonderful unobstructed view of the south end of Lake Tahoe, with peaks in the Desolation Wilderness making up the skyline.
About 1.2 miles from the trailhead, around 7000 feet elevation, there is a beautiful waterfall tumbling down the hillside.
There were numerous wildflowers along the trail. Here is one example; it might be a cryptantha, but I’m not sure.
The trail passes through mostly forested areas. It’s very well designed and constructed, with an average grade of about 7.5% (400 feet per mile).
About 0.6 mile past the waterfall the trail crosses a small stream with its own mini-waterfall.
Right next to the stream there was a pretty yellow wildflower, which I haven’t yet identified. Added later: it looks similar to a seepspring monkeyflower.
As the trail continued to climb, there was a great view between trees of a row of not-so distant peaks with the remnants of the winter snowfall.
About 2.8 miles from the trailhead there was a brief view of Castle Rock, a distinctive rock formation just a few miles away. Castle Rock is accessible from the new TRT section that bypasses the Kingsbury Grade residential area.
Shortly before the TRT junction there was yet another beautiful wildflower, I believe a Douglas wallflower.
Once I reached the TRT I went just a little farther, 0.1 mile or so, to a vista point I had visited on a previous hike. The elevation marked on the sign is 7777 ft (+/-). After revisiting the vista point I returned to the trailhead.