TBA advocates to ensure permanent, sustainable winter access to the Tahoe backcountry. Explore the below list of active and advisory projects to learn more about TBA’s efforts.
Tahoe Backcountry Alliance is actively engaged in the projects below. Please be aware that time estimates, project complexity, costs, and involved stakeholders can be unpredictable and difficult to accurately quantify at the project onset. Timelines and costs often evolve with greater clarity as we delve in to each individual project. TBA asks for patience in this often lengthy process that can span many seasons to complete.
In the fall of 2020, TBA and the Truckee Donner Land Trust collaborated on the development of a winter trailhead for legal parking access to the historic Lake Run along the west shore of Donner Lake. TBA received approval from the Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks Department to utilize their West End Beach parking facility for this purpose.The agreement to use the West End Beach parking area required TBA to pay for repaving of a portion of the parking area ($25,000) and provide signage and snow removal annually ($4,000/year).
TBA is fundraising for next year’s maintenance costs and ongoing community education and messaging surrounding the run. (Learn more.)
TBA is working with El Dorado County and the Forest Service to establish a legal year-round trailhead below Rubicon Peak. The Rubicon trailhead would provide access to amazing west shore Tahoe public lands and help mitigate congestion and illegal parking issues for homeowners in the adjacent neighborhoods. The estimated design and construction costs for the Rubicon trailhead exceed $250,000. Additional annual costs include maintenance and snow removal costs associated with the site.
TBA continues ongoing fundraising efforts to create a Rubicon Peak trailhead. (Learn more.)
In the winter of 2019, TBA partnered with Tahoe Sierra Transportation to initiate a pilot program for micro transit along the west shore of Lake Tahoe to mitigate parking congestion on busy weekends. TBA paid for operation costs ($1,200/day) for a driver and a Suburban for three Saturdays throughout the winter. The shuttle ran pickups at the Tahoe City Transit Center and drop-offs at trailheads along the west shore of Lake Tahoe.
Due to the success of the pilot, TBA is expanding the program to more days, including another pickup and drop-off route in Truckee. Unfortunately, with the onset of COVID-19, we suspended the program during winter ‘20-’21. TBA currently seeks agency partners and funders to continue the expansion of micro transit throughout the Tahoe Basin. Our goal is to support backcountry access throughout the basin and decrease congestion on roads and in parking areas, ensuring a better experience for all users.
TBA installed trailhead counters at three locations along popular backcountry routes in winter 2020-2021: Castle Peak, Incline Peak, and Deep Creek. TBA has partnered with the Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol to maintain and operate these trailhead counters. TBA hopes to use the data gathered from these counters to inform land managers of growing backcountry usage and the need for increased winter access in the Tahoe basin.
Trailhead counters cost $750 each and TBA continues fundraising efforts for the purchase of additional counters and operational expenses.
Ward Canyon offers unique access to high altitude backcountry skiing zones along Grouse Ridge, Twin Peaks and Stanford Rock. Unfortunately, there currently is no legal backcountry user parking in the Ward Canyon area. TBA is working with Placer County to develop a legal trailhead which would provide parking for backcountry users year-round. The Trailhead construction and design cost estimates exceed $180,000 with maintenance and snow removal costs estimated to total $3,500 annually. TBA continues fundraising for this project.
Deep Creek parking currently consists of a pullout along Highway 89, plowed infrequently by CalTrans. There is no legally recognized trailhead parking for the Deep Creek trailhead. TBA is working with Placer County and the U.S. Forest Service to establish a permanent parking area and dedicated snow removal services along Highway 89. Costs for this project have yet to be estimated.
Pole Creek is one of the most popular trailheads along Highway 89 between Truckee and Tahoe City. The public lands–including the Sierra Club backcountry hut accessible from this trailhead–are vast. The parking area at Pole Creek is large and plowed on a regular basis, but often fills early in the day with backcountry users exceeding parking capacity. TBA is working with Placer County and the U.S. Forest Service to enlarge and improve the parking area at Pole Creek. Costs for this project have yet to be estimated.
Parking for the public lands surrounding Castle Peak has seen a tremendous increase in users during the ’20-’21 winter. The only legal parking for Castle Peak is at the California State Parks-run Sno-Park. The Sno-Park is a permit-only parking system with a limited number of parking spaces.
With a goal of optimizing parking, TBA consistently advocates for backcountry users by informing State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, and other organizations of the need to ensure clearly signed, delineated, and available parking to pass holders. With concerns for safety and emergency vehicle access, State Parks has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to limit the number of cars at the Sno-Park entrance. Once parking reaches capacity, law enforcement turns cars away. TBA, along with State Parks, the Forest Service, and other organizations are actively pursuing alternative parking solutions for this area.
Tahoe Basin Cross-Agency Recreation Covid Response
During this very challenging winter, the Tahoe basin has experienced unprecedented visitor numbers, creating strains on both public lands and local infrastructure. TBA recognizes that the increased user load on local resources creates threats to the quality of recreation and access, in addition to the natural environment.
TBA has joined forces with local Tahoe Basin agency members, operators, law enforcement representatives, and others in developing strategies to better cope with the congestion, littering, and illegal parking associated with the increased user numbers. As a voice for the local backcountry community, TBA is a consistent participant in local agency meetings and forums, advocating for public lands access and sustainable solutions to higher user numbers and their impacts.
Throughout the Covid crisis, TBA has become a key advocate for winter outdoor recreation in the Tahoe Basin by collaborating with managing agencies, building strategic alliances, and elevating public awareness of access issues and potential solutions.
Highway 89 Corridor Planning
Over the past three years, TBA has been involved with planning efforts led by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) in the development of the Highway 89 Corridor Plan. The Plan consists of a long-term strategy to reduce congestion and provide efficient parking and transit solutions for the Highway 89 corridor. During the planning process TBA highlighted the need for more winter access and transit options, and identified specific locations that could aid in alleviating congestion and traffic safety concerns. Proposed ideas include: parking for Mt. Tallac along Spring Creek road, better operating plans for Emerald Bay avalanche paths, an enlarged Jakes Peak parking area, a trailhead at the base of Rubicon Peak, and public transit options in winter for North and South Lake Tahoe winter recreationalists.