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Cross-country skiing in Tahoe South

Cross-country skiing at Lake Tahoe dates back to the mid-1850's when famed skier Snowshoe Thompson transported mail across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Over 160 years later, cross-country skiing still thrives at Tahoe.

Here’s where to ski in and around Lake Tahoe's south shore:

cross country skiing lake tahoe

Cross country skiing along Baldwin Beach in South Lake Tahoe, CA | Photo by Jared Manninen

Highway 89 (north of South Lake Tahoe’s “Y” intersection of Highway 50/89)

On the lake side you’ll find mostly flat and short trails at Pope, Kiva, and Baldwin Beaches, as well as at the nearby Tallac Historic Site and Taylor Creek Visitor Area. Camp Richardson (no pets, trail pass required) offers groomed trails once the snowpack reaches two feet.

On the opposite side of Highway 89 is Fallen Leaf Lake Campground, Mount Tallac Road (leads up to Floating Island and Cathedral Lakes), and the Taylor Creek Snow Play Area (permit required).

Meyers

West of the “Y” you’ll find a number of easy to moderate trails along Lake Tahoe Boulevard, Tahoe Mountain Road, and North Upper Truckee Road. Park at the Forest Service gates along those roads and ski around Tahoe Mountain, Washoe Meadows State Park, and to the Angora Ridge, Lakes, and burn area.

Traveling west of Echo Summit on Highway 50, turn right onto Lincoln Highway (near Little Norway) and park at the Echo Lakes/Johnson Pass Sno-Park (permit required). Then, ski through Desolation Wilderness to Echo Lakes and Lake Aloha.

South Lake Tahoe

Bijou Park and Lake Tahoe Community College (pass required) are centrally located in South Lake Tahoe, but it takes a while for either area to accumulate adequate snowpack. You may have better options starting from one of the Forest Service gates on Pioneer Trail or Oneidas Street.

cross country skiing lake tahoe

Cross country skiing at Grass Lake, near South Lake Tahoe, CA | Photo by Jared Manninen

Highway 89 (south of Meyers) & Highway 88

This region is very popular due to its higher elevation. Grass Lake and neighboring Hope Valley are mostly flat, whereas Big Meadow and Carson Pass Sno-Park (permit required) offer challenging routes. Kirkwood Ski Resort (no pets, trail pass required) offers easy to advanced options along their groomed trails (80km in optimal winter conditions).

Stateline

Rabe Meadow, on Kahle Drive, is nearly at lake level, so it’s best to ski when winter is in full swing.

Click on the thumbnail below to download a map of these and other South Shore cross country ski areas:

xc lake tahoe

Cross country ski areas around South Lake Tahoe, CA | Map by Jared Manninen

Considerations

  • Nearly all trails are on public lands (not groomed) and suited for classic (striding) cross-country skiing. Fortunately, people ski at most locations so there are usually established tracks.
  • You can park almost anywhere along roads so long as you don’t obstruct traffic, block Forest Service gates, or impede snow removal vehicles while they operate.
  • Tahoe is in the mountains and cross-country skiing is highly aerobic, so be prepared for an adventure and a workout. Even the easy trails can be strenuous.
  • Bring extra clothes, food, and water, and leave your itinerary with someone who can notify emergency services if you don’t return on time.
  • Dogs are allowed on public lands, but keep them on a leash and pick up after them.

 

Options for renting and buying cross-country ski equipment and purchasing Sno-Park permits:

  • Camp Richardson (rent) | 1900 Jameson Beach Rd. | 530-542-6584 (Mountain Sports Center)
  • Explore Tahoe Visitors Center (Sno-Park permits) | 4114 Lake Tahoe Boulevard | 530-542-4637
  • Kirkwood Ski Resort (rent and sell) | 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr. | 209-258-6000
  • Lake of the Sky Outfitters (rent and sell, Sno-Park permits) | 1023 Emerald Bay Drive | 530-541-1027
  • Powder House (rent) | 1133 Ski Run Blvd. | 530-541-7470
  • Rip N’ Willies (rent) | 1144 Ski Run Blvd. |530-541-6366
  • Sierra Ski & Cycle Works (rent and sell) | 3430 Lake Tahoe Blvd. | 530-541-7505
  • Sunrise Ski and Snowboard Rental (Sno-Park permits) | 3202 Highway 50 | 530-577-3176
  • Tahoe Paradise Chevron (Sno-Park permits) | 2986 Highway 50 | 530-577-1127
  • Tahoe Roadrunner (Sno-Park permits) | 2933 Highway 50 | 530-577-6946
  • Tahoe Ski Rentals (Sno-Park permits) | 3131 Harrison Ave | 530-600-0267
  • Tahoe Sports LTD (rent and sell) | 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd. #7 | 530-542-4000
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Jared Manninen

Guest blogger Jared Manninen shares his love of the outdoors and knowledge of the Lake Tahoe region through his writing, art, and photography. Check out more of his visual artistry on his personal website, JaredManninen.com.

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