New Huts Open in Lake Tahoe, CA Backcountry

Jake Vigesaa | BackcountryBackcountry
frog lake backcountry huts
Credit: Truckee Donner Land Trust

Situated only 20 miles Northwest of Lake Tahoe, a backcountry opportunity has opened up for those looking for a truly new experience. Frog Lake is the home to 3 recently built huts on its Northeast bank. The property was privately owned for nearly 90 years with no access to the public. Truckee Donner Land Trust purchased Frog Lake in June 2020 as part of a 2914-acre acquisition. Frog Lake was previously owned by the family of the late Felix Smith. Smith purchased the lake and nearby property from Southern Pacific Railroad in the 1930s and soon after built a stone lodge, now known as the Eschenbach Stone House.

eschenbach stone house
Eschenbach Stone House Credit: Truckee Donner Land Trust

The lodge served as the Smith family’s summer vacation home and remained well preserved. It has undergone some renovations and will continue serving as a shared space for guests with a full kitchen, fireplace, and larger sitting rooms. The new cabins, within walking distance, boast modern architecture and amenities such as electricity, indoor plumbing, and hot water. All three have unique floorplans, with two being duplexes, but in total sleep 20 people. While minimal, these huts are luxurious compared to typical primitive ski huts found in the US. There are very few along the West Coast mountain ranges, with the vast majority located in Colorado.

The huts are available for booking as early as December 21, depending on snow conditions. Stays of two nights during the week and three nights over the weekend are available. A hutmaster resides on-site and will offer assistance, answer any questions, help guests get situated, and show them to the Eschenbach House. The huts sit on the East bank of Frog Lake, with a view of Frog Lake Cliff, which provides challenging terrain for confident backcountry skiers and snowboarders. For those not seeking thrills, the surrounding area offers beautiful cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Frog Lake backcountry. Near Lake Tahoe
Frog Lake Credit:

Frog Lake is only accessible by hike-access during the winter. There are multiple routes to get there but require traversing between three and five miles through snowy mountain terrain. This can be dangerous, and TDLT advises that visitors know about avalanche/snow safety and navigation techniques. Depending on conditions and your skill level, it may take up to 5 hours to reach the destination. Numerous local guides services offer one-way or entire trip guides. Frog Lake backcountry huts will be available for summer use but are not currently taking reservations. For information and booking, visit TDLT’s website:

Skiing frog lake cliff backcountry
Credit: Truckee Donner Land Trust

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10 thoughts on “New Huts Open in Lake Tahoe, CA Backcountry

  1. I love how commenters like Jesse and Mary tout open access to the public. They fail to mention how the Trust and its members have lobbied and sued to have the Forrest Service kick snowmobilers and dirt bikers off the surrounding publicly owned National Forrest Land not owned by the Trust.

    Generations of people have enjoyed these areas in all seasons for many purposes. The Trust actively is trying to make this entire area (privately owned and USFS land) their own private back country resort for their approved uses only. Sounds like an abuse of power, money and the system if you ask me.

    As other users point out there are no reservations available to the general public. What a coincidence. I look forward to buzzing your attempt at a private back country resort with my snowmobile this winter. Shame on all you selfish rich exclusionary people.

  2. The Trust could set aside or designate portions of the acquired land (whether gifted or bought for $8m) for affordable housing. There are many sections of the land that was acquired that are closer to existing roads and infrastructure. Frog Lake would probably be a bad candidate because of how remote it is. The private cattle ranch the Trust bought up in Carpenter Valley to create their own little private national park would probably be a better candidate.

    There are many non-profit affordable housing organizations throughout the region. One of the largest expense of building affordable housing are the land costs. $/SF it can range between $20-$80/SF of the overall $250 – $350/SF cost to build. The land is about 25-30% of the cost of the project. The rest is the actual construction and the permit/utility fees that come in from the government.

    The Land Trust could donate the land to one of these non-profit organizations and permanently entitle the parcel as to be used for non-profit housing. Not having to pay for land allows the rents to go down about 25%. Not having the permit fees and utility hook up fees would allow the rents to go down another 10%. If you coupled this with a non-profit affordable housing expert who used federal tax credits and other subsidies you could probably achieve a 50-70% reduced rent rate for any projects build under this process. I work with a couple of these non-profit affordable housing developers. They are both reluctant to come to Truckee because of all the red tape and nasty politics in that town.

    Enviro purest need to be more aware of what they are doing to cause a decrease in buildable land and an increase in the regions housing prices. Your actions have an impact. You as socially aware socially responsible organizations should be cognizant of what you are doing to the everyday ski bum trying to hack out a life in Tahoe.

    Yes mansion developers are part of the problem. But you guys gobbling up all the future potential land to be developed creates a lack of supply. So you make the existing supply of buildable land extremely valuable. The existing supply is so expensive now, the only way to make something economically feasible is to build mega mansions that only rich people can afford. Tahoe has become very much like San Francisco or the Bay Area. There’s literally almost no buildable land left. So prices go up and up and up.

    We live in a market driven economy. When you remove supply prices go up. That’s exactly why oil and gas prices have surged lately. Lack of supply.

    If you guys want to start legislating who can live here and what value system they have that sounds a lot like dictatorships or some other repressive regime. You all obviously have strong moral compasses and are aware of the benefits of America’s inclusionary values and practices.

  3. You are not wrong, however please outline your plan for Affordable Housing at Frog Lake. A formerly private property that is now open to the public through the Land Trust and Forest Service though hiking trails and backcountry skiing access. Attainable housing would be pretty cool at Frog Lake, let’s hear the plans Econ

  4. To all the people suggesting this land should have been given to them so more greedy developers could pave over nature and turn the land into shitty apartments for 20-somethings to move to Tahoe and “live the dream” by scraping by for a season or two in liftie jobs, pipe down. Most of this land was donated to the land trust or was purchased through community fundraising. Tahoe will be nothing more than another Reno parking lot if these people have their way.

    Do we have a housing issue for real locals? Yes. But this isn’t the cause. The cause is a combination of developers overbuilding sprawling mega-mansions and golf courses, out-of-town investors buying up scores of residential homes to turn them into short-term rentals, and remote workers who contribute nothing to the community while they sit at home behind their computers day-after-day and bitch about people parking in their Tesla charging stations.

    Sure, we could build a few more apartment buildings to alleviate some of the short-term pressure, and we should. But not at Frog Lake ffs. Build them by public transit in town. Don’t pave over outdoor recreation areas that should be open to everyone, rich and poor.

  5. WTF? just outlined how Econ 101 works.

    This lack of buildable land inventory is a major barrier to Affordable or Attainable housing in the region.
    Die hard Enviro groups like this with big money supporting them have the assets and cash to make a real dent in the availability of buildable land. Truckee Donner Land trust, who very few people have heard of has assets of $66,375,081.

    Imagine how big the balance sheet is for groups like the Sierra Club. It’s more than enough to change the economics of a region. Keep in mind most of this land was given away for free or deeded just 100-150 years ago. Now its getting gobble up by Uber Rich ppl and their passion projects.

  6. They also buy up land in the name of open space, land that could be used for local housing, which in turn just makes the surrounding real estate cost that much more. But a hut for $200/night that requires a few miles hike does sound pretty inclusive.

  7. The non-profit is funded mostly by rich bay area tech money.
    Then spent ten’s of millions buying up private grazing and cattle land to shut it down to many in the public.
    These huts sit on private land the Trust owns and controls.

    Just like many things in Tahoe, its getting really expensive and very exclusionary.

  8. I find it interesting that there is absolutely no availability this season already. Is this a private club?

  9. These same groups have been working their tail off to kick out and shut down snowmobile access terrain in that same area.

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