Cross-Country Skiing South Lake Tahoe
Cross country skiing at Lake Tahoe dates back to the mid-1850s when famed skier Snowshoe Thompson transported mail across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Over 160 years later, cross-country skiing still thrives at Tahoe.
Cross country skiing South Lake Tahoe, here’s where to go:
Cross country skiing South Lake Tahoe near Highway 89
North of South Lake Tahoe’s “Y” intersection of Highway 50/89, on the lakeside, 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. Cross country skiing at the beaches is almost the definition of cross country skiing in South Lake Tahoe because you are right on the lake! 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, near Tahoe South, is another great place for cross country skiing Lake Tahoe
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. This is one of the most stunning landscapes you will see in the area, making the region excellent for cross country skiing in South Lake Tahoe. Don’t forget to take a few photos!
Bijuo Park and Lake Tahoe Community College are fun places to go cross country skiing in 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.
Check out cross country skiing Lake Tahoe in the Highway 89 (south of Meyers) & Highway 88 regions
This region is very popular for cross country skiing in South Lake Tahoe 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 more challenging routes. Kirkwood Ski Resort (no pets, trail pass required) has easy to advanced options along their groomed trails (80km in optimal winter conditions).
Stateline has great cross country skiing once winter is in full swing
Rabe Meadow, on Kahle Drive, is nearly at lake level, so it’s best to cross country 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:
Considerations for Cross Country Skiing in Lake Tahoe
- 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:
Cross country skiing in South Lake Tahoe requires the right gear – if you want happy campers that is. Choose the wrong gear, and your feet (and your significant other) won’t let you forget it! Sno-Park permits are also required in many of the areas where people go cross country skiing in Lake Tahoe. Check out our list of gear rental shops and places where you can purchase a Sno-Park permit.
- Camp Richardson (rent) | 1900 Jameson Beach Rd. | 530-542-6584 (Mountain Sports Center)
- Kirkwood Cross Country & Snowshoe Center (rent and sell) | 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr. | 209-258-6000
- 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 (rent)| 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