171 miles around a lake? It doesn’t sound too challenging. Also, hiking on a rim with more or less constant views of the same lake day in, day out didn’t sound overly exciting to me at first. I did some proper looping around water reservoirs in the Thuringian Forests, and I got bored quickly.
But, to start the story with the ending: It was a fantastic hike!
After a long flight to Reno, we took a shuttle up to Tahoe City, where the trail officially starts and, as it is a loop, ends. After some chores in town, we were headed towards the trailhead a little out and above the city. I instantly felt a rush of adrenaline, caused by anticipation of living outdoors again and pure excitement to be back on a trail. However, carrying 6.5 days of food from the lakeshore up to the rim at about 8,200 ft (2500 m) took quite some effort. I felt exhausted and tired and sore immediately. The heat wave the area was suffering from these days did not help at all. It felt like every drop of water I drank instantly evaporated. But it felt awesome to be back out hiking again.
The Tahoe Rim Trail more or less follows the rim around the lake, which is the largest alpine lake in North America and with 1,645 ft (501 m), the second deepest in the US. The trail meanders up and down on its path, traverses slopes and alpine meadows with plenty of wildflowers. The landscape was surprisingly varied and characterized by the typical Sierra scenery of rocks, gigantic boulders, pine, and fir trees. However, the ever-present dusty trail reminded me of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California.
Even though, in parts at least, it felt like being out in the wild, we were never far from civilization. The Tahoe Basin is more populated than I expected. Tahoe City and South Lake Taste are the two major towns and holiday destinations at the lakeshore. Still, there are also many minor settlements in between, and plenty of vacation homes are nestled in the area’s valleys. From up at the rim, we could spot numerous marinas. From time to time, voices and the humming noise of cars driving on the major highways from Sacramento to Carson City or Reno were carried towards us by the wind. Also, this is the first trail I hike in the US, that is in parts open to cyclists. So, many times we had to step aside for MTBs.
Interestingly, we could also spot the sky-rising casinos in South Lake Tahoe from the trail: The Tahoe Basin is partly in California and partly in Nevada, especially the latter attracts tourists in the area to gamble in one of the many casinos. Gambling is legal in Nevada. It’s the result of an attempt to lift the state out of the hard times of the Great Depression. Located in the Great Basin desert, few settlers chose to live in Nevada after the United States acquired the territory at the end of the Mexican War in 1848.
Despite the heat, the occasional thunderstorms in the early evenings, and many bugs around the shattered alpine lakes in the southwest of Lake Tahoe, we enjoyed the trail to the fullest. We had a fantastic time reconnecting with that scenery out west that feels so very much familiar.
Speaking of that, the trail shares its path with the Pacific Crest Trail for about 50 miles. We were looking forward to that and couldn’t wait to get back to well-known turf in the Desolation and Granite Chief Wildernesses. And the views? Did they ever get boring? God no, these views never got old!
If you want to hear more about the Tahoe Rim Trail, check out my podcast “Wanderwach & Kaffee”. In episode 4 I talk for about 10 minutes the Tahoe Rim Trail. Click here https://between2poles.net/2021/12/24/janice-erzahlt-vom-weitwandern-auf-dem-lykischen-weg/