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Snowy Adventures Around Tahoe Meadows

Snow in the Truckee Meadows always feels like Gandalf coming to a party. It arrives neither early, nor late- but rather, precisely when it means to. And it never arrives with any rhyme, reason, or way that makes even a bit of sense. However, lucky for us, the snow did decide to stop by after all. And while getting a month’s worth of snow dumped on us in the span of one week feels a bit overkill, beggars can’t be choosers. So, for those of you who are ready to finally get your winter adventures started, read on for a TMPF approved guide to the ultimate snow day!

If you’re not feeling up to a full day on the slopes, you can still get a taste of snow fun by driving up to South Tahoe Meadows. Just follow Mount Rose Highway up about 25ish miles and you will find families snowshoeing, hiking, sledding, and even cross country skiing! If you’re interested in trying your own hand at any of these activities, but lack your own equipment, no worries! At the base of the mountain, in Galena, you’ll find a couple of shops where you can rent gear for the day before making the drive up to Tahoe. We stopped at Galena Sports where we rented snowshoes for $14 for the day. They also had skis, boards, and everything your adventurous spirit could imagine! You can also stop at The Lodge either before or after your adventure for lunch or a coffee! (I personally recommend the Lavender Chai Latte, and the woodfired pizza also smelled delicious.) *Due to COVID, the rest area at the top of Mount Rose is closed, so a bathroom break at The Lodge would definitely be wise before venturing out.

Once your rentals are in hand, your bellies are filled, and your bladders are emptied, you’re ready to take on the mountain. There are plenty of well-packed and established trails that are easy to navigate if you want to just mosey around the meadows, but if you want to head towards a specific destination, Chickadee Ridge never disappoints! Approximately 2 miles out and back, the trail will take you to the top of the mountain ridge where you’ll be granted a stellar view of the lake. There are multiple trails you can take to get up there, but make sure to stay on the proper path for the activity you’re doing. If hiking or snowshoeing, use the hiking and snowshoeing trails. The wider and smoother trails are specifically made for ski tracks. Be sure to walk next to those as your shoes may cause divots and uneven ground that can be unsafe for skiers. For more information on trail etiquette, check out this article by REI. Also, be cautious of tree wells while hiking (the space around a tree that does not get the same amount of snow as the surrounding open space). I found myself stepping in one and sinking up to my hip at one point. Needless to say, it’s not fun, and potentially really dangerous!

Another popular activity to note in the Mount Rose area is bird watching- yes, even in the wintertime! Our small, precocious friend, the mountain chickadee, is a regular inhabitant to the region. You’ll see many people come up to the mountain with birdseed in hand, and the chickadees will literally feed directly from them! I, myself, have done it and It’s definitely a unique experience.

The Parks Foundation advocates that you do your research on proper practices and understand all the potential consequences of interacting with wildlife in any capacity before heading out with some birdseed and a camera, however. While not expressly prohibited by park authorities, there are many factors that responsible outdoor enthusiasts should consider before feeding any wildlife.

For some helpful information and perspective on whether or not it’s okay to hand feed the chickadees, start with these articles:

Let us know what you enjoy doing most in the snow! We’re sure that whichever activity you choose to partake in and whatever reason draws you up the mountain, you’re sure to have an amazing time at Tahoe Meadows.


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