High above the east shore of Lake Tahoe sits Tahoe Meadows, a popular winter destination for cross-country skiers, snowshoe wanderers, and view seekers. Nestled at the base of Mount Rose and Tamarack Peak to the north, and Slide Mountain to the east, Tahoe Meadows is a flat expanse of quality snow stretching south from the Mount Rose Highway and associated parking area. Skiing through the meadows offers views of the surrounding peaks and gnarled, ancient, high-alpine pines. For those wanting a peek at Lake Tahoe, climb along the gentle, rolling ridgeline to the west of the meadow to access dozens of dazzling lake panorama locations.
What Makes It Great
Aside from the plethora of lake views, Tahoe Meadows offers something other snowplay or cross country ski locations cannot: lots of snow. Between 8,500’ and 8,700’ Tahoe Meadows sits high enough to keep its snow through the winter and even into mid-spring depending on the snowfall. And while snow conditions here can change dramatically with the large temperature shifts found along most west coast mountain ranges, good snow is usually found high –and Tahoe Meadows rises 1,200’-1,500’ above nearby Echo, Donner, and Brockway Summits. Be on the lookout for cold, freezing temperatures at night followed by warm days under the sun. This can fill Tahoe Meadows with “corn snow” a spring condition characterized by soft, grainy snow perfect for the slide and glide of cross country skiing.
Tahoe Meadows, and the ridgeline to the west, are also large enough to accommodate even the most robust Tahoe weekend crowd. Don’t like groups crowding in on your lake view? Simply slide over to the next knob for regained solitude. The wide open spaces and scattering of pines makes it easy to plot your course away from the crowds and equally easy to find your way back at the end of your adventure.
Who is Going to Love It
Beginner cross country skiers will love the flat meadow, perfect for the first time away from the groomed trails of your local cross country center. Intermediate cross country skiers will love the rolling terrain west of the meadows where they can test their ability to climb and descend. For the bird lovers, Tahoe Meadows carries a secret as well: flocks of tiny chickadees gather and will often alight on ski poles and open palms looking for a free handout.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Incline Village, NV go up the Mount Rose Highway (Route 431) for approximately seven miles. It’s free and legal to park along the Mount Rose Highway. Note that you will be sharing the parking spots with other winter users: Snowmobilers, backcountry skiers, and snowshoe hikers. The snowmobiles head north of the highway, as do most of the backcountry skiers. There are no facilities at this trailhead so be sure to pack out all your trash and dog waste. And even though they’re cute, please do not feed the Chickadees as with all wild animals.