Thanks to ongoing cold temperatures, great snow has remained in the mountains. So far it’s been a great year for snowshoeing. One recent destination was the Taylor Creek SNO-PARK, located on the west side of Highway 89, just north of the turnoff to Fallen Leaf Lake. Like some of the other California SNO-PARKS we’ve visited in the Lake Tahoe vicinity, Taylor Creek wasn’t that crowded. I’m sure this is partly due that you must buy a permit to use one of these parks. It also seemed that most of the visitors at Taylor Creek were there for the sledding hill at the parking lot, and didn’t venture beyond this point. This made for a wonderful and peaceful tromp through the snow.
Just behind the sledding hill, we picked up a trail that headed south upstream along Taylor Creek. The terrain gently rolls through the woods here, and thanks to the creek, would be easy to follow even if a trail had not been walked in yet.
Our destination for the day was Fallen Leaf Lake, under two miles up the creek. Fallen Leaf Lake measures approximately 2.9 miles across on the long access, is approximately 415 feet deep at its deepest point, and sits 152 feet above Lake Tahoe. We gained access to the lake via the bridge across the dam on the lake’s north shore, and found a nice beach to rest on with views across the lake and of Mount Tallac above.
American writer John Steinbeck spent some time at Fallen Leaf Lake in the 1920s. At the age of 23, Steinbeck moved to the Tahoe area, and worked as a caretaker at the nearby Cascade Estates and as a bus driver at Fallen Leaf Lake. According to one article, it’s a possibility he snowshoed this area, since it may have been the only way to get around in the winter.
We pretty much followed our same route back to the trailhead, but we did see more trails going off in other directions. One particular trail appeared to be more groomed for XC skiing, and after looking at the map, this larger trail may follow Cathedral Road. Another trail appeared to continue south from the dam along the lake shore.
Taylor Creek SNO-PARK makes a great family destination for winter exploration. Snowshoeing in any terrain is still a good workout, but this area is mostly flat and the navigation is fairly easy. And with South Tahoe so close, there are plenty of options for a good lunch or a hot drink after your adventure.
CA State Parks Taylor Creek SNO-PARK