Since Greyson and I spent the spring and summer sticking close to home, we took the opportunity to ride some of the local trails we haven’t ridden before. Animal & Animal Crackers shot to the top of my list of favorite local trails, and I made a quick video about it. Check it out!
As I mentioned earlier, I created a survey to rank the mountain bike trails and beer for smaller cities and towns. So far, I’ve gotten 18 responses, and here are the preliminary results. Bellingham seems to be the highest rated town, with the highest beer rating at 9.25 and a high trail score at 9.00. Whistler/Squamish had the highest rating for trails, an average of 9.86, with a decent beer score of 7.43. Interestingly, Bend had the second highest beer score of 8.89, but a fairly low trail score of 5.89. Reno had the lowest overall score with a trail score of 4.75 and beer score of 6.25. (I think that Reno beer score is seriously too low. If you need a recommendation for better Reno beer, let me know.)
Because several destinations had as few as two responses, I also did a chart with only the towns that had at least 5 responses.
Survey is still open, so you can still respond here. Thanks!
Inspired by this Transit vs. Tacos plot for major US cities, I created a survey to rank the mountain bike trails and beer for smaller cities and towns. If you’re interested, you can fill out my survey here. I’m planning to collect the data and plot it after a couple of weeks. The options are very West Coast centric, since I made the list based on places I’ve ridden and drank. Feel free to suggest more options, either here or in the survey.
Last month, I got to demo the Santa Cruz Megatower at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz. It was waaaaaaay more bike than I needed for those mostly mellow trails, but I had a blast!
I know this is a time where many people want to retreat to nature, to social distance in the wilderness, to travel somewhere the pace of life seems more relaxed and less crowded. I love sharing the special places and fun adventures available in Tahoe, Truckee and the Sierra. Even though my audience is small, I would feel irresponsible if I didn’t join in the chorus of voices encouraging people to stay close to home and adventure responsibly during this critical time of “flattening the curve”. I especially appreciated this email sent out by Visit Truckee, our tourism bureau.
“Our beloved travelers, now is not the time to visit Truckee…While the Truckee community is reeling from business impacts due to COVID-19, we extend our deepest thoughts to beloved visitors who have supported our tourism economy. With immense compassion for everyone’s wish to be in the fresh mountain air, now is NOT the time to visit Truckee. Truckee’s healthcare system is excellent, but limited. The consequences of COVID-19 for our small town would be devastating. Our first positive case was reported Monday, March 16th and is under self-quarantine. Right now, please support Truckee-Tahoe businesses from afar. Rebook lodging for a later date. Reach out to businesses you enjoyed in the past. Send an email, post a photo and tag words of encouragement. Consider making donations, buy gift cards, ask for credit versus refunds, pay for an online yoga class, order books and sports gear online from our local shops. Cash flow is critical for us right now. If you can afford it, reconsider canceling memberships. If you are here, dozens of restaurants, sports shops and grocery stores are offering deliveries, curbside pickup, rentals drop-offs, etc. But again, now is not the time to visit. Some restaurants, retail shops, and lodging establishments are CLOSED. All ski areas are closed. We are facing heartbreaking, serious decisions and will need the help of our tourism family on the road to recovery. Over the coming weeks, we will share photos and stories to keep you entertained and hopeful when happy times are here again. Truckee will be ready to welcome you when the world is ready to travel again. Good karma, pay-it-forward, BE STRONG and we will see you soon. Our mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and trails will be here to welcome you back. There will be many more winters and fresh pow in the years ahead!”
This has already become an issue in places like Moab and Bishop, where hundreds or thousands of visitors are overwhelming limited local resources. Please don’t travel to these rural outdoor adventure destinations right now. The local residents truly appreciate it, and will welcome visitors with open arms when it is safe again.
I returned to the site of my first ever Youtube video to ride the Hoot Trail in amazing, winter dirt conditions. Since the snow hasn’t been great, I’ve really been taking advantage of the foothill trails this winter.
Let’s be real. The winter of 2020 has not been a great one for Truckee-Tahoe. It started out strong, but we haven’t gotten real snow in what feels like months! While a powder-filled winter vacation in Truckee might be preferable, there are still lots of fun things to do here, even when the snow isn’t great.
While we haven’t gotten much snow lately, the early season snow put down a nice base layer and the resorts are still going strong. On sunny days, that means a fun day for skiing and riding groomers. Here are my tips and tricks for having a great day of spring riding or skiing.
If the resorts aren’t your speed, there’s still enough snow for snowshoeing in a lot of the higher elevation, like Chickadee Ridge near Incline Village. For something snow free, the Truckee River Legacy Trail is a paved, class 1 bike path that currently connects downtown Truckee with the Glenshire neighborhood. The trail parallels the Truckee River and is plowed in the winter, making it a great place to walk, run, or bike year round. Eventually, the Truckee River Legacy Trail will connect across all of Truckee and down to Lake Tahoe! Another great paved trail is the Trout Creek Trail, which connects the Tahoe Donner neighborhood to downtown.
My favorite upside of a crappy winter? I don’t have to travel as far to go mountain biking. While the Truckee and Tahoe trails aren’t rideable yet, there’s plenty to ride within an hour of Truckee! I’d recommend the Foresthill Divide and the Culvert & Confluence Trail Loops in Auburn, Hoot Trail in Nevada City and Peavine Mountain in Reno. Here’s a post I wrote with my recommendations and favorite gear for spring riding.
Treat Yo Self:
While Truckee isn’t known for it’s amazing cuisine, we’ve got some good options, especially if you want to eat outside and enjoy the warm weather. Grab out front at Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats or on the deck overlooking the Truckee River at 1882 Bar & Grill in downtown Truckee. At Donner Lake, you can have an amazing BLT at The Pub at Donner Lake and get the best ice cream in all of Truckee-Tahoe at Little Truckee Ice Creamery. Both of these places have outdoor seating too.
If the weather isn’t great, I’d highly recommend getting a massage! There are a bunch of great spas and masseuses in Truckee and North Lake Tahoe. I’ve had excellent massages at Zenergy Massage & Wellness, and Aloha Massage comes very highly recommended as well. For the full spa experience, you can’t beat the Spa at the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe. Trilogy Spa in Olympic Valley is great, too!
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and the Tahoe-Truckee area is one of the most fun places you can go for a romantic getaway. Here are some of my favorite romantic things to do here!
Watch the sunset from the Donner Lake docks. We have been having incredible sunsets lately, and the public piers on Donner Lake is one of the best places to see it. Bundle up, pack a blanket, bring thermos full of Hot Toddy, and enjoy the incredible view. For more great places to see the sunset, check out my blog post here and here.
Have dinner at Cottonwood Restaurant. My favorite spot for a romantic dinner in Truckee is Cottonwood Restaurant. Situated on a hill overlooking historic downtown Truckee and the Truckee, you can’t beat the view. My tip is to get a reservation on the early side, so you can watch the sun set from their deck or out the picture windows. Other great restaurants for a romantic dinner are Jake’s on the Lake in Tahoe City, Moody’s Bistro & Beats in Truckee, and Artemis Lakefront Cafe in South Lake Tahoe.
Go snowshoeing! Snowshoeing might be the ultimate winter outdoor date activity. It’s fun and active, but you’re not too out of breath to have a conversation. I’d highly recommend Chickadee Ridge, especially this winter since there’s still enough snow. For other snowshoe hikes in the area, check out my post here.
Taste wine at the Pour House. Just off of the main street of downtown Truckee is a gem of a wine shop, the Pour House. It’s a funky little place that’s always pouring delicious wine. Dean and Christa, the owners, will have a great suggestion at any price point, plus you can stock up on gourmet cheese and other snacks. Pack up a picnic to take snowshoeing or to the Donner Lake docks! If you are taking wine to go, I highly recommend the Silipint silicone wine glasses – you don’t have to worry about glass and there’s no weird taste like metal glasses have. Other great places for wine in the region are Uncorked in Truckee, Squaw and Tahoe City and Revive Coffee and Wine in South Lake Tahoe.
Go for a climb at a climbing gym. Is there anything more romantic than climbing? When you’re belaying someone, you literally have their life in your hands. Also, spotting someone while bouldering can just be an excuse to get a little handsy. While climbing isn’t much of a winter thing in Tahoe-Truckee, there are a couple of great climbing gyms in the area – Blue Granite Climbing Gym in South Lake Tahoe and High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!
I love heading down the hill to ride the Auburn mountain bike trails in the winter! Greyson and I had a great day on Culvert and Confluence trails last weekend – check it out below.
This weather this winter has been…varied. We started off strong with a lot of snow, but then we had a long dry period, and lately, it’s been weak storms. Not a lot of opportunities for powder days. Last weekend, though, we had a beautiful sunny Saturday, so Greyson and I were looking for something fun to take advantage of that. After debating a few options, we settled on going on a snowshoe trek to Chickadee Ridge above Incline Village.
The hike out to Chickadee Ridge is one of the more popular snowshoes in the North Lake Tahoe, for good reason. There are incredible views, the trail head is easy to get to, there’s ample parking, the ~2.5 mile round trip will get your heart rate up, but it’s not too hard, and since hikers tend to spread out, you’ll spend much of your excursion in solitude. See my hike on Strava here.
To get to Chickadee Ridge, we started near the Tahoe Meadows trailhead of the Tahoe Rim Trail along the Mount Rose Highway 431. We parked here, which is also the parking for the snow play area on the north side of the highway. Don’t be alarmed if there are a ton of cars, most are there using the sled hill.
After we parked, we crossed to the south side of Hwy 431 and headed cross country across the meadow toward the treeline, me on snowshoes and Greyson on his backcountry skis. One thing that I love about snowshoeing and winter recreation is the ability to forge my own path. We knew the general area we were heading, but we were able to meander there on our own. Pretty much as soon as we got into the trees, we were on our own. While there isn’t an official trail in the winter, this is a popular enough destination that there is a packed out trail to follow, if you’re worried about getting lost. When we were there, it was even packed hard enough that people were hiking in boots without snowshoes or skis (though I wouldn’t recommend it!).
Once we were in the trees, we started a steady, but not too steep climb. We ended up climbing about 350 feet overall with only one steep stretch at the end. We weren’t going to a specific destination on Chickadee Ridge, so we just snowshoed south until we could see Lake Tahoe, then turned northeast-ish and walked along the ridge until we found a nice rock to sit on with a great view.
Another reason that people go to Chickadee Ridge is right in the name. Visitors often bring bird seed and feed the mountain chickadees that hang out in the area. Due to this, they are pretty friendly and will fly up to see if you have any snacks for them. I’m not a big fan of birds getting close to me, so we didn’t feed them. A few flew close, but left us alone once they realized we had no food, which I appreciated.
After hanging out and enjoying the view for awhile, Greyson and I started getting hungry, so we packed up and headed out. On our way out, we followed the biggest set of packed out tracks and we were quickly back in the meadow and back to the car. Since we were hungry, we headed straight to the new-ish Alibi Ale Works Incline Public House. Alibi Ale Works is one of my favorite local breweries, but I hadn’t checked out their new pub location in Incline Village. They have a bigger kitchen than the Truckee location, so the menu is expanded and everything looked so good. I got an excellent spicy chicken sandwich, and since it’s dry January, a local Pacific Crest Coffee nitro cold brew. I’m not usually a huge nitro cold brew fan, but this was seriously one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had in years! I highly recommend a stop at Alibi Ale Works Incline Public House stop after you do the Chickadee Ridge snowshoe. See my Strava Track here.
Click here to see my favorite gear for snowshoeing.
Click here to see some of my favorite snowshoe hikes in Truckee.
Mileage: ~2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~350 feet