Outside with Charlie: It’s a great time of year

By From page B2 | October 12, 2011


It’s the middle of October. The days are shorter — it’s darker later in the morning and earlier at night — but there’s still plenty to do despite the rain and early snow in the high country.

It’s time to check that your gear is in good shape for winter. Take wet weather gear and extra layers that have been in the closet all summer when you head out for a ride, hike or run.

This time of year is generally very pleasant. For the most part the hot days are over, replaced by warm days sandwiched between cooler mornings and afternoons — perfect weather for hiking and cycling.

Several groups have been busy marking, clearing and building new trails this summer and fall. Snowlands, the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol and other volunteers have put in new blue diamonds in the Loon Lake area. Forest Service crews have cleaned trails throughout the forest.

Trees that fell onto trails were cut and moved out of the way. Brush was trimmed, culverts cleaned and rock berms to divert water off the trails have been repaired or added. Signs were refurbished and trail heads updated. In other words, our trails are ready for us to take advantage of the fall weather.

With the cooler weather, Cronan Ranch is one of the better hikes around Placerville. Many of the trails in the park lack shade and can be a bit much on hot days. Now is a great time to explore Cronan Ranch.

Gold Bug Mine in Placerville is also a fine place to wander about in cooler weather. The park is extensive, well marked and full of historical information about our area.

Riding the El Dorado Trail is great right now. To avoid major construction on the trail just past Schnell School, detour up Broadway to Smith Flat Road and take the trail head at Jacquier Road. It’s a prime place to ride.

There is snow at the higher elevations of the Crystal Basin but the lakes are open and the trails are good. A word of advice — if you run into snow on a side road, turn around. Getting stuck can ruin a great day.

Those waiting to enjoy fall color along the Highway 88 corridor from Silver Lake to Hope Valley will have to wait. There are precious few spots of color — mostly on the willows that line the Carson River in Hope Valley. Remember that just about everything, including tomatoes, is about a month late because of our cold spring.

The crowds are gone from the Lake Tahoe Basin this time of year. You and your hiking buddies will likely see few people on your favorite hike. The salmon are running in Taylor Creek and conditions for walking along the lake’s shore are spectacular.

Remember to check the forecast prior to heading out and be prepared for changing conditions. Take advantage of this wonderful time of year and get outside.

Charlie Ferris

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