Tahoe Is Losing Access To It’s Best Backcountry Skiing Terrain:

SnowBrains | | Industry NewsIndustry News
We are losing access to this west shore Lake Tahoe zone right now. This is some of the best backcountry skiing in Lake Tahoe.
We are losing access to this west shore Lake Tahoe zone right now. This is some of the best backcountry skiing in Lake Tahoe.  photo:  skitahoebackcountry.com

What’s Happening to our Backcountry Access:

Parking for access to nearly all of the backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing  areas in Lake Tahoe basin have already been eliminated, are currently being eliminated , or are scheduled to be eliminated due to various projects by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s attempts to curb sediment runoff into Lake Tahoe. 

Their latest project is the California Highway 89 improvement project and it’s ‘the straw that broke the camels back’ as it is eliminating parking access to some of the very best backcountry zones in Lake Tahoe including Jake’s Peak. 

This current project along with similar projects before it and scheduled projects in the near future have closed, are closing, and will close an untold number of unpaved, roadside parking spots.  These projects are also closing gates that access roads that skiers and riders and snowshoers use to access winter backcountry zones like Spring Creek Road that accesses Mt. Tallac.

“What is happening is some of the pullouts people use to park for backcountry skiing are being eliminated,” said Bob Rowen, chairman of the Snowlands Network

Dropping into the Emerald Bay Chutes is a classic descent that we won't have access to very soon. photo: skiingthebackcountry.com
Dropping into the Emerald Bay Chutes is a classic descent that we won’t have access to very soon. photo: skiingthebackcountry.com

What You Can Do About It:

Please join this Facebook Page so we can pool our resources, talent, and voices:

Tahoe Backcountry Alliance

Please email/call the following people in charge and let them know that we need this parking to enjoy our beautiful backcountry zones:

  • Shannon Friedman/Senior Planner TRPA/sfriedman@trpa.org/(775) 589-5205
  • Sue Novasel/El Dorado County Supervisor /bosfive@edcgov.us/(800) 491-6642
  • Joanne Marchetta/TRPA Executive Director/jmarchetta@trpa.org
Skiing Jakes Peak and where you won't be able to park your car anymore. photo: thebackcountry.net
Skiing Jakes Peak and where you won’t be able to park your car anymore. photo: thebackcountry.net




by Tahoe Backcountry Alliance/Mike Schwartz, Owner of The Backcountry

These are the following historic and important trailheads. They all worked fine for decades and are flat, quite locations.  Desolation Wilderness and West Shore Lake Tahoe backcountry skier parking should be adopted and protected.

The numbers on this map correlate to the numbers of the backcountry ski zones below. image: thebackcountry.net
The numbers on this map correlate to the numbers of the backcountry ski zones below. image: thebackcountry.net

1. Pyramid Peak – parking lot closed in winter at Horsetail Falls. No highway parking allowed. Just open the gate please and don’t bother plowing. This lot is at 6000’ and has south exposure. It never has any snow.

2. Ralston Peak – Skiers Park on a local quiet street and it works fine.

3. Angora Peak and Desolation access – Fallen Leaf Lake road is locked by a gate in winter for home owners. Why? This trailhead at the fire station is great access into Desolation Wilderness in winter, just like summer. Many nearby peaks can be skied, and it’s the lowest angle journey to Aloha Lakes and the center of Desolation. Please open the gate. It’s all plowed to the end near the abandoned Fire Station.

4. Mt. Tallac Trailhead – Closed by TRPA. Some skiers Park on hwy 89 and tough it out, which might be lost just like Jake’s and Bliss Peak parking right now. Build a parking lot at the end of Spring Creek Road! The last two houses are abandoned USFS owned tear downs anyway. Tallac is the best thing about Lake Tahoe! This path up the East Ridge is the safest and most direct route up the mountain.

5. Maggie’s Peaks and Desolation Access – currently skiers park on asphalt plowed by CalTrans. It works fine and up to 10 cars park there daily. There is a large modern parking lot across the street which is gated, but not necessary if skiers can keep the current location on the proper side of the highway. Lots of tourists park with skiers and walk uphill a little for a great view.

6. Eagle Lake Trailhead – Closed Trailhead Parking lot but Cal Trans has plowed enough generally at the highway to park there. This is the best location to ski in to Dick’s Lake, which is a popular overnight trip. Faster skiers go in to Dick’s Peak and great surrounding terrain for one day tours.

7. South side Jake’s Peak at Avy Gate – Cal Trans plow drivers always tell us that we are fine parking at this turn around spot as long as their machines can turn around. No problem, plenty of room. Yet the El Dorado Sherrif has historically ticketed skiers. This is very popular access to some of the best views on earth had while skiing. This is also an option for when the north Jake’s parking area is full. And finally it’s where you want to start if south facing slopes are best.

8. North & East Side Jake’s Peak – This was just wiped out, and is the most important of all. It is closest to town, offers the most reliable steep powder conditions, and is mostly tree covered leading to lower avalanche hazard days. Solution is to either pave the old dirt parking spots (which were just ruined by TRPA and Cal Trans this month), or convince CA State Parks to let BC Skiers use their paved and plowed parking lots. This is a no brainer. Pick either.

9. Bliss Peak – There were 2 large paved parking areas usually full on any winter day. Bliss Peak offered lower angle tree skiing with the most unlikely avalanche danger of any peak in the area. The view from the top was of course great like the rest of them, and the climb was easy. Last week both paved parking areas were removed and ruined so CalTrans can’t plow them anymore. That asphalt could easily go back.

10. Rubicon Peak – Since the first backcountry skiing occurred in Lake Tahoe, this has always been the go to for relative safe, untracked, and high quality winter powder. The view from the top is unmatched for a fairly easy climb. The dead end high up in the neighborhood had cars parked everywhere and a better parking area could be built, but it worked fine for many decades. Then the El Dorado Sherriff started ticketing people for no reason, even with just one car on a sunny day. No homeowners could see the cars. Skiers can’t climb the peak from hwy 89 because the forest is too thick. This peak should just be like Ralston Peak. Leave us alone and post signs that say “no parking when snow removal conditions exist”. Or build a snow park if you have to.”

Related Articles

4 thoughts on “Tahoe Is Losing Access To It’s Best Backcountry Skiing Terrain:

  1. trouble is, you have no idea, or maybe you do, of how hard these people (el dorado co, placer co, and trpa etc) are to deal with. total nightmare.

  2. Heard this might happen a while back, but thought it was more dependent on forest service travel management plan or the basin. Seriously, if you love Tahoe, if you love skiing powder, if you love being able to access YOUR public lands, write to these people and tell them how wrong this is. Thanks Snowbrains for the heads up and spread the word!

  3. Wow, thanks for reading. I’ll have sone feedback soon I’m sure from land managers. The Jakes Peak issue is solved as CA State Parks says skiers can park in their large lot at the Bliss Headquarters building. This is right across the street from the skin track.

    Also a little parking was put back for Bliss (Hidden) Peak.

    Other note, pay no attention to the comments in on of my pictures posted here regarding “Avy concerns”. That picture was taken from my website guidebook, and these words are taken out of context here.

    Yes, please contact land managers and ask that winter parking to access public land be considered just as important as summer access. Tell them to INCLUDE the public during planning projects in the future.

    Ask them to find solutions that improve the environment which DONT negatively affect recreation and the local economy.

    And question why new developers add coverage and new projects that tax our limited open space and environment, while at the same time we are losing historic recreation opportunities from those same asphalt coverage and drainage issues your always trying to balance! There is 800,000
    Sq ft of coverage being asked for by East West right now to build privately owned campgrounds on Brockway Summit near Mt. Watson for example!

Got an opinion? Let us know...