Projects

Photo: Ming Poon

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Preserving access

TBA advocates to ensure permanent, sustainable winter access to the Tahoe backcountry. Explore the below lists of our active and advisory projects to learn more about our efforts. Our success is directly tied to community support, please consider donating!

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Active projects

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.

Washoe Tribe Kids-on-Snow

TBA is broadening our definition of the word access and expanding it to include helping kids, who might not otherwise have the opportunity, get a chance to experience winter recreation. Additionally, we recognize that we both live and recreate on historically Native American land. This season we’ve purchased snowshoes and cross-county skiing gear for about 30 kids in the Washoe Tribe of Northern California and Nevada. The gear will be given to the Tribe to use anytime they have the opportunity. TBA will also be coordinating 4 days where TBA Board Board Members, along with other non-profit partners, will work with the kids to showcase how to use the gear, learn about hydrology and leave-no-trace principles and, most importantly, just have fun on the snow!

Donner Lake Run

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.)

Rubicon Peak

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.)

TBA Backcountry Shuttle

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 and the financial support of the backcountry community, TBA is expanding the program for the winter of 22/23 to include more days and residential pickup, and also new this year, a South Shore microtransit pilot program for all 4 Saturdays in February!

Saturdays:
12/24
12/31
1/7
1/14
1/21
1/28
2/4
2/11
2/18
2/25
3/4
3/11
3/18
3/25

Sundays:
1/15 (MLK 3 day Weekend)
2/19 (Presidents 3 day Weekend)

All 4 Saturdays in February

Trailhead Counters

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

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

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

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.

Education and Etiquette

TBA continues to impart the importance of leave-no-trace principles, parking in a safe and conscientious manner in our Backcountry Tips & Etiquette program. In addition to messaging on our website and social media platforms, we take this important messaging and create custom content for other forums including Backcountry Safety Awareness Week and other in-person and virtual events. Check out our guide to Backcountry Skiing Tips & Etiquette.

Photo: Ming Poon