This is a time of year to tune up the hiking legs, check the gear and choose a destination.
The Sierra to the east of Placerville has many choices for hiking and this time of year is perfect for short, awe-inspiring jaunts into the forest.
Prior to taking off for the mountains, always check the weather report.
Here are two beautiful mountain hikes to test your legs and lungs out. One is on Highway 88, the other up in the Tahoe Basin.
For the first one, take Highway 89 over Luther Pass. When you get to Highway 88 at Pickett’s Junction, turn right and head through Hope Valley towards Carson Pass.
You are headed for Silver Lake. Silver Lake, Caples Lake, and Woods Lake are free of ice and very full, not to mention beautiful. When you get to Silver Lake, take the road that goes past Kit Carson Lodge. When the road splits, veer left, and when it splits again, veer right.
A short bit past this second turn you’ll go over the creek that flows out of Granite Lake, and just past that will be space for parking. Your destination is Granite Lake, a short one-mile hike over the granite and through the woods. There is nothing technical here. It is uphill, but it’s a gentle uphill. Relax, enjoy this tucked away slice of mountain joy.
The second hike is at the Mt. Tallac trailhead. Park at the trailhead, fill out a wilderness permit even if you aren’t likely to hit the wilderness boundary. It’s just good practice and common sense.
Here’s what you can do here: hike out on the trail for an hour or so. After about a 30 minute hike you’ll be on a ridge above Fallen Leaf Lake. Lake Tahoe will be that large body of water across from Fallen Leaf. Keep hiking and the views get even better. Stop anywhere along here and count it as a good day.
If you go far enough you’ll come to Floating Island Lake, and past that Cathedral Lake, which is about as far as you should go without a Sherpa and alpine gear. The bears are active out there now too, so keep an eye out for them.
These two mild efforts are a good place to start. Stay tuned for more. The moutains are calling — get outside!