PLACES: Mt. Rose Family Hike to Tahoe Meadows

Looking for a nice, easy hike to add to the summer list? Grab the kids, the dog, and a picnic lunch and explore Tahoe Meadows at the crest of Mt. Rose highway.

Tahoe is full of great hikes. Many are well known, marked, and maintained, and others are known only as family or neighborhood local's secrets. Everyone's got their routine route for walking the dog, or just getting out for some trail time. This summer, one of the things on our family 'to-do' list was to explore some hiking spots that we don't normally go. Tahoe Meadows, at the crest of Mt. Rose Highway between Lake Tahoe and Reno, proved the perfect spot.

The Tahoe Meadows area is by no means a secret spot. For anyone who drives over Mt. Rose to Reno and back on occasion, the location is very familiar. A popular stopping spot for locals and visitors due to its extremely easy access, it attracts hikers, mountain bikers, xc skiers, sledders, and many others year-round. There are actually two popular spots to park and hike along the highway. It's important to note that this trail is accessed via the parking area and trailhead closest to the summit of Mt Rose Highway, to the north. 

Although it was a busy summer Saturday in August, we pulled into the parking area and found a spot with no problem. The Tahoe Meadows area is maintained by the Carson Ranger District of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest and the facilities include vault toilets and interpretive maps and signage. The trailhead is easy to find and well marked, as is the rest of the trail. 

The Tahoe Meadows Interpretive Trail is a loop offshoot from theTahoe Rim Trail system. Just over one mile in total length, it is more of a casual stroll than a hike, with easy, well-maintained and marked trails, pathways, and boardwalk-bridges, providing access for wheelchairs as well. The ease of this hike makes it a popular spot for families with smaller kids, as well as great for grandparents and those looking for a less-strenuous excursion.

Despite its relative ease, the location, at over 8500', offers spectacular views in all directions, and a variety of terrain. The trail winds through tall groves of Douglas Fir, over quiet mountain streams, and across lush mountain meadows. About halfway around the loop, a short detour brought us to a vantage point that offered views to the east down a long canyon of the Carson Valley below. From here we spotted several hawks soaring the thermals, as well as the ever-present chipmunks, curious about our activities.

After a nice lunch, we made our way back to the trailhead, passing several other groups of hikers along the way. All in all, it was a great trip. A couple hours out of the day to enjoy our spectacular surroundings and some time together. We'll be back for sure, with the grandparents this fall.

For more details, take a look at some of the links below where you'll find a variety of resources. - a complete selection of maps, descriptions, and details about many hikes in the Tahoe area.
Tahoe Rim Trail Website - a quick summary of many hikes around Lake Tahoe and details about the complete Tahoe Rim Trail system. - A blog recount of a trip to Tahoe Meadows.
Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest website - Government site for the National Forest. Limited details, but general information.

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