Happy Groundhog’s Day

While Punxatawney Phil did not see his shadow, and that should mean that spring is coming soon. Well, I hope that Phil is wrong and we still have a couple of months of winter left to go. The Sierra snowpack still needs it! This is the most snow we’ve seen on the mountains in several years, and I think I forgot how truly gorgeous it is.

The light was beautiful, so I drove up to the Donner Lake lookout after work and took a few pictures on my Iphone.

trestle peak
Trestle Peak and the old train tunnels
grouse peak
Grouse Peak. There’s some fun bouldering up there!
donner lake
Donner Lake from Above
bridge
Looking up towards the scenic view point. You can barely make out the Old 40 Stone bridge in this picture.
donner peak
Looking up at Donner Peak from the Donner Canyon Trailhead.
donner lookout panorama
Donner Scenic View Point Panorama

I hope that these scenes only get snowier for the next few months, and stay snowy until June!

Five More Great Places to Watch the Sunset in Tahoe

More Great Places to Watch the Sunset // tahoefabulous.com

Last August, I wrote a post about the best places around Tahoe to watch the sunset. In the last year, and, especially since my move north to Truckee, I’ve found even more great places to watch sunsets in the Tahoe/Truckee area.

  1. Donner Summit,Truckee, California

Donner Summit // tahoefabulous.com

Photo by Greyson Howard.

Drive up old Highway 40 from Donner Pass Road, and you’ll find a number of great places to watch the sun set over Donner Lake and the Carson Range. This picture is from the Green Phantom climbing area under the historic bridge, but there is also a great vista point with a large parking area and some interpretive signs. Greyson took this gorgeous photo with his iphone when we were climbing a few weeks ago.

  1. The public docks at Donner Lake, Truckee, California

Donner Lake Public Docks // tahoefabulous.com

I’ve mentioned the docks at Donner Lake before, and, in addition to swimming, fishing and kayaking, the docks are a great place to watch the sunset. Cuddle up with a beer and a blanket to watch the sun set over Donner and Trestle Peak. If it’s not winter, you can even go for a night swim!

  1. Sand Harbor State Park, Incline Village, Nevada

Sand Harbor, NV // tahoefabulous.com

There are a bunch of great things about Sand Harbor State Park. For one, it’s the iconic yellow sand – turquoise water – round boulders that you see pictures of all the time. For another, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is the most scenic place to see Shakespeare in the US. Though weekend at Sand Harbor are often so crowded that the parking lot is full by 10 am, by sunset, the crowds have cleared out enough that there’s plenty of parking. Additionally, there’s a free vista point north of the park. Parking is only for 20 minutes, but that’s plenty of time to head down the short trails to the beach and catch the high points of a typical sun set.

  1. Kyburz Flat Interpretive Area, Sierra County, California

Kyburz Flat // tahoefabulous.com

There’s a gorgeous meadow area about 15 miles north of Truckee known as Kyburz Flat. On it’s own, it’s a beautiful green meadow, surrounded by pine forests with a natural spring. Beyond that, the area has a super interesting history remnants, including Native American petroglyphs and a reconstructed (and usable!) Basque brick oven from the sheep camp days. I was lucky enough to attend an incredible cook out at the Basque oven, and we saw one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve experienced in Tahoe.

  1. Donner Peak, Truckee, California

Donner Peak // tahoefabulous.com

Yet another spot accessed from Donner Summit, this is a sunset spot for those who are up for a little more of a challenge. I’ve written up the (daytime) hike to Donner Peak here. If you want to watch the sunset up there, be prepared to hike down in the dark with at least a headlamp and remember that the last mile or so (on the way down) is really rocky and unstable. It’s a little under 4 miles round trip with about 933 feet of elevation gain.

These are my favorite places to watch the sunset that I’ve discovered over the last year or so. What are your favorite places for sunsets in Tahoe, California and beyond?

 

Donner Summit Canyon in Truckee, California

Earlier this week, Greyson and I checked out a fairly new local hiking trail near the Donner Summit area in Truckee.

donner summit 1

Donner Summit Canyon trail is yet another awesome trail built by the Truckee Donner Land Trust (the organization behind the amazing Wendin Way Trail. The trail is open to hikers and mountain bikers, and we explored via hiking this time. We decided that we were glad we did, because the trail is a pretty steady uphill gravel path that turns into a narrow and rocky trail.

donner summit 2

From Truckee Donner Land Trust

Though the trail is uphill the whole way, the climb felt pretty easy, and we weren’t working too hard. About a mile into the trail, there’s a sign pointing left to a scenic view point – definitely follow that detour. You’ll get a nice view of Donner Lake, and there’s even a picnic table for a quick snack or picnic lunch.

donner summit 3

After the scenic detour, we headed back to the main trail, and up the trail, heading higher towards the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. We hadn’t planned to hike all the way to the PCT anyway, but we ran into a creek crossing where the bridge was missing! We’d gone about 2.3 miles at this point (including the detour to the scenic overlook), so we decided to turn back instead of risking getting wet.

The spot with the missing bridge had great views, with Donner Peak above us and Donner lake below, so we enjoyed the view for a few minutes before the wind got too cold, and we headed back. The whole trip was just under 4 miles, and took us about an hour and a half with our stops for scenery and attempts at wildflower identification.

Donner Summit Canyon Hike // tahoefabulous.com

Not technically a flower.

While it’s not the most rugged or challenging hike, and there are some with better views, this is a great quick hike (or gravel grind on your bike). If you’re looking for an easy hike with great views in the Truckee area, the Donner Summit Canyon Trail is perfect.

 

Climbing at Green Phantom, Truckee, California

While we don’t have any snow yet in Tahoe, it’s started to get plenty cold. I’m afraid my outdoor climbing season might be over for the year. But I did manage to get one more day of climbing in last weekend when I was up in Truckee, in a great spot for people new-ish to outdoor climbing (like me!) and their more experienced climbing partners (Greyson).

Climbing Green Phantom, Truckee, California // tahoefabulous.com

We were up on Donner Summit in an area known as Green Phantom which has a variety of routes from 5.6 – 5.10+. We didn’t end up climbing on the actual Green Phantom this time (there were other people on it and we were freezing), there are several other bolted top rope routes available for climbing. We like climbing in this spot as it’s a quick and easy to access (you can hike down from the top or rappel) and is usually way less crowded than the other busy Donner Summit spots.

green phantom 6

The Mountain Project describes it as

“… almost directly below the old arching bridge at the top of the Donner Summit climbing areas. The cliff is not that tall but is excellent granite quality with great views of Donner Lake. There exist about 8 routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.10+, with other toprope possibilities. 3 of the routes are sport routes, while the rest are toproped. If you want to jump on some moderate face routes and don’t have a lot of time, this is a good place to go.”

green phantom 7

Green Phantom is made fairly obvious by its green coloring, and the other top rope routes are located to the right on the shorter faces. We usually warm up with an easy (5.6 according to Local’s Guide Rock Climbs of North Tahoe) route on the left corner of the shortest, furthest right face.

Green Phantom 2

There’s also a 5.9 crack climb (Fine Line) that’s obvious on this face. I made it up this one for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I was so excited! This time around, it was so cold that we only lasted for two short routes each before calling it quits.

I’ve played around on the middle face, not making it up a route with a tough undercling (Undercling Thing, I think), and going up a fairly easy route (which I don’t think it was an official route). I’m excited to tackle the Green Phantom when it warms up again this spring!

Green Phantom 3

The top of the climb is rewarded with views of Donner Lake

Not only are these fun, fairly deserted climbs, but the view is killer! You’re looking down on Donner Lake and up to Grouse Ridge. You’re also pretty protected from the wind, but in the shade most of the day. If it’s a hot day, this is nice, but can really make for cold fingers on a late fall day. Make sure you also check out the view from the Donner Lake Overlook.

green phantom 4

Grouse Peak, another climbing and bouldering area in Truckee.

What: Green Phantom, Donner Summit, Truckee, California

Where: Head west and up Donner Pass Road (along Donner Lake) and park in the Donner Lake Overlook parking lot. Cross the road and walk under the bridge. You’ll end up on top of the routes. Turn right to find the anchors; turn left to head down the (slightly overgrown) trail to the bottom.

After: When you’re done, you should head into town and find my favorite new addition to Truckee – Pho Real – a pho truck! I’d recommend the pork pho, but the veggie also looked amazing for vegetarians and those who are not soy averse.

Green Phantom 5