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Cross Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California USA

Trails:
many with elevation changes
Best Season:
November to April
Temperatures:
mild
South Lake Tahoe is located on the California–Nevada border, El Dorado County, California, USA.

One of the things Lake Tahoe is famous for is cross country skiing. Recreational cross country skiing is more known as touring. More adventurous skiers like to stay out for long periods of time using tents and equipment, which is similar to bush-walkers and hikers, when others take small trips from ski resorts on maintained trails.

As a sport it is one of the most difficult endurance sports. On South Shore there are many trails available. Luther Pass – Grass Lake is a flat trail, perfect for families and novice skiers. Its distance is 0.5 to 5 mi/0.8 to 8 km and it offers beautiful views through a forest.

Tallac Historic Site / Visitor Center is a flat trail, perfect for beginners or families with children. If you visit Visitor Center, you can put together a tour of about 1-4 mi/1.6-6.4 km. Fallen Leaf Lake is another beginner trail, which leads you to the magnificent view of Mt. Tallac and Fallen Leaf Lake.

Its distance is 0.75-5 mi/1.2-8 km and the elevation is not much. Echo Lakes is a rather popular trail on the road from SnoPark at Echo Summit to Echo Lake Resort and then out across the frozen lakes. It is a 2.5-12 mi/4-19.3 km round trip and its elevation changes +/- 250 – 1250 ft/+/-76.2-381 m. Angora Lakes is a nice, intermediate trail up Angora Ridge Road to Angora Lookout or on Angora Lakes. It is 7 mi/11.3 km round trip and its elevation change is +/- 750 ft/+/- 228.6 m.

Big Meadow Area is another good, intermediate trail. The first quarter is a bit steep, but it is getting better after that. There are three trails to three lakes, Dardanelles, Scotts and Round. Its distance is 5-10 mi/8-16 km and its elevation change is +/-300 –  +/- 1100 ft/+/-91.4 – +/-335.3 m. Carson Pass – Lake Winnemucca is a beautiful trail that leads you to Lake Winnemucca at Carson Pass. The trail is at its longer distance flat and the scenery is remarkable. If you want to extend the tour, you can reach Round Top Lake or even 4th of July Lake.

It is a 4-10 mi/6.4-16 km round trip and the elevation changes from 400 to 2000 ft/122 to 609.6 m. Oneidas Road to Armstrong Pass is another intermediate trail, which leads you to Fountain Place Forest Service road for many miles and then continues through Fountain Place meadow and on up to Armstrong Pass. Its distance is variable and the elevation changes from 200 to 2400 ft/60.9 to 731.5 m.

Last but not least Floating Island/Cathedral is an intermediate tour that starts at Tallac Trailhead (on winter is usually plowed). The trail is along a ridge with great view of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe. If you follow that trail, it leads you to Floating Island Lake and onto Cathedral Lake.

Following that approach, you can reach the top of Tallac Mountain although most skiers prefer the Spring Creek trail. Its distance is 3-5 mi/4.8-8 km and its elevation changes from 700 to 1200 ft/213.3 to 365.7 m. Best period to visit the spot is from November to April, when there is reliable and dry snow and the temperatures are mild.

How to Get to Destination

BY CAR FROM San Francisco
175 miles/281.64 km, 2 hours 55 minutes
Take I-80E east into Sacramento. Continue on US-50 E towards Sacramento/South Lake Tahoe. Bear right at US-50. Turn right at Sierra-at-Tahoe Rd.
BY CAR FROM Sacramento
91.4 miles/147.09 km, 1 hour 37 minutes
Take the I-80-BR E ramp to Reno/Placerville/Fresno (CA-99 S). Merge into US-50 E. Bear right at US-50. Turn right at Sierra-at-Tahoe Rd.
BY CAR FROM South Lake Tahoe
15.8 miles/25.428 km, 28 minutes
Head west on Emerald Bay Rd/US-50/HWY 89 towards Sacramento. Continue on US-50 over Echo Summit. Turn left at Sierra-at-Tahoe Rd.
BY CAR FROM Reno
13.3 miles/21.40 km, 23 minutes
Take the US-395 S ramp to Carson City. Continue through Carson City. Take Exit 38 for Fairview Dr. Turn Right onto Fairview Dr. Turn Left onto S Carson St/US-50/US-395. Turn right to take the US-50 exit to South Lake Tahoe US-50 becomes Lake Tahoe Blvd. Turn left at Emerald Bay Rd/US-50/HWY 89. Continue on US-50 over Echo Summit. Turn left at Sierra-at-Tahoe Rd.
BY AIR
Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO),
73.2 miles/117.80 km
BY TRAIN

Amtrak serves the entire USA. For fares, tickets and schedules check the website.

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