Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

Hiking the Tahoe Basin - Donner Pass to Lake Tahoe

Hike the spine of the High Sierra along the Pacific Crest Trail on this 3-day, 30 mile walkabout.  This is a challenging hike, but you’ll be rewarded with stopovers at mountain resorts in spectacular settings and with the solitude and pristine beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Start your journey at Donner Pass and end at Lake Tahoe.  Day 1 hikes 10.5 miles along the PCT.  Starting at 7,100 ft., the trail climbs sharply along a series of rocky switchbacks but soon settles into a gradual ascent.  The high mountains that form Sugar Bowl Ski Resort come into view.  Reaching the crest, the PCT becomes one of the most beautiful trails in all the Sierra – exposed volcanic ridges, snowcapped peaks, and scattered forest of fir and pine.  The Truckee River Valley plunges to the east, the American River cuts a deep gorge to the west, and Lake Tahoe shimmers in the distance.  End the day with a descent by foot or tram to Squaw Valley and enjoy a comfortable bed, a good meal, and maybe a well-earned soak in a hot tub.

Day 2 returns to the PCT and enters territory visited only by the most adventurous mountain hikers.  Hike long glaciated valleys through scattered pines under towering mountain peaks.  Spring comes late in the high country.  Bright yellow mule’s ears and deep blue lupine cover mountain slopes in July and August. 

Leaving the PCT, take Five Lakes Trail, and descend 1,000 feet past crystal-clear alpine lakes beckoning you to take a swim.  Forests of giant Jeffrey pines and aspen greet you as you approach Alpine Meadows Ski Resort.  Continue  to the Truckee River.

Finish your adventure on Day 3 hiking along the Truckee to Lake Tahoe.  Take your time, savoring the serenity of the river, the grandeur of the lake, and the memory of hiking the crest of the High Sierra.

Hiking the Tahoe Basin Walkabout is one of a dozen inn-to-inn hikes found in “Walkabout Northern California: Hiking Inn to Inn.”  It can also be purchased as an individual guide.

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