Tahoe Backcountry Community,
We have a unique opportunity to provide input to Placer County on backcountry access points in the Tahoe Basin.
Placer County is seeking public and stakeholder input for its North Tahoe Recreation Access Plan.
The plan proposes public access improvements to outdoor recreation areas. The proposal aligns with key action priorities under Lake Tahoe’s Environmental Improvement Program’s Sustainable Recreation focus area.
A public survey is now available. Placer County is also working with multiple stakeholders including public and private property owners and land managers to learn about related recreation plans and to explore partnership opportunities.
Tahoe Backcountry Alliance has developed a Sample List of Comments you can use if desired for the Survey. See below for specific areas of interest and potential solutions.
Thanks so much to Placer County and the entities involved for encouraging timely public input on this important subject. North Lake Tahoe is blessed with direct access to the Tahoe National Forest and incredible opportunities for sustainable recreation. Backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and paddle sports are the fastest growing segment of the outdoor industry. Their growth is far outpacing access to opportunities and Tahoe is no exception.
The most sustainable way of providing access in the long term (post-COVID) is providing door to door micro-transit to the various recreational venues. In the short run Alterra, Northstar, and Homewood should provide micro-transit based on the Mountaineer model currently being utilized in Squaw Valley. These services should be expanded to home owners at Alpine Meadows and the Alpine Peaks subdivision in Ward Canyon to access the Sherwood and Alpine meadows lift networks.
The hope would be to work towards door to door Micro-transit to all North Shore recreation locations potentially utilizing transient occupancy tax funding. Ideally, future transit vehicles will be EV’s if and when possible.
Placer has done an excellent job of creating parking, posting signage and plowing the roads end at Silvertip in Talmont for access to the Page Meadows area. Recreationalists drive through the residential subdivision on the public roadway to access the USFS land at the roads end. There is a sizable lot with SKI Parking actually posted. This is a model for other neighborhood access trailheads on the North Shore. Important access points on the North and West Shore in Placer County include the following, in sequence of importance:
- Sherwood: This is the only high elevation access on the North and West shore of Lake Tahoe and is thus critical to backcountry recreationalists in the area. The current lot is at the terminus of Ward Canyon. It is accessed by a public roadway and is within the public road right of way and has been paved with public dollars. The lot has been used since at least the 1980’s by thousands of backcountry recreationalists, summer and winter, accessing the public lands immediately to the west. The lot should be signed as public parking and expanded if possible. Tahoe Backcountry Alliance may be willing to provide a funding mechanism for funding snow removal and maintenance of this lot.
- New Stanford Rock bike trail/Ward Canyon rim trailhead: This site which is currently often used as a plow turnaround by Placer County already includes a large, level cleared dirt area that is heavily utilized by recreationalists spring through fall. Ideally this can be paved and become a year-round official lot and Trailhead for the Stanford Rock mountain biking trail and Ward Canyon Rim Trail. It would also provide access for winter users of Stanford Rock via the abandoned USFS access road. Ideally, an access bridge across Ward Creek could be constructed in the future at the old USFS road crossing.
- Grand Avenue: This is the ideal non-motorized access point to Blackwood Canyon. At present there are a few spaces that end up being cleared here that access the USFS dirt road on the south side of the canyon. If this could be opened up and signed, it would provide quiet skier and snowshoe access to Blackwood Canyon.
- Fulton Crescent and Carnelian Woods areas provide important local non-motorized access to the Watson Peak area. These road ends should be kept clear, open and signed for local recreationalists. It has become clear especially in view of COVID, how important neighborhood access to public lands is in enhancing mental and physical well-being.
- Pole Creek and Deep Creek: These are the most important non-motorized access points in the Highway 89 corridor towards Truckee. Parking here is within the Caltrans highway easement . The use of this parking has been exploding and fortunately Caltrans has responded accordingly. Hopefully, we can establish, expand and clearly sign delineated parking areas for the interest of all parties moving forward.
- Snow Play Areas: Another important issue to be addressed is providing specific Snow Play areas and providing ready information to access those areas. The areas should offer trash receptacles and LNT signage. North Tahoe Regional Park, Tahoe City Golf Course, Granlibakken or even a paid snow play area at the old Powder Bowl ski area at the base of Alpine Meadows might be options.
Thank you for taking action and helping to improve public lands access in the Tahoe Basin.
Tahoe Backcountry Alliance