One of the best ways to spend a day in the Lake Tahoe basin is going hiking. Lake Tahoe has some of the most beautiful views on the planet and hiking in the basin has always been popular. Spending quality time with your friends and family in the fresh air, discovering new paths and enjoying the Lake Tahoe basin has become one of the favorite leisure activities for the Northern Sierra. Whether you like to hike alone, in a small or big group, and no matter the difficulty of the route, there are some simple rules for hiking in Lake Tahoe we need to take into consideration.
Be Prepared and Equipped
Before hiking, make sure you are well informed about the level of difficulty, trail and weather conditions. Weather in the Lake Tahoe basin can be tricky at times. Rain and snow can come up on you in a flash. Make sure you’ve made a plan and are prepared to act on that plan. Another thing to look at is your own abilities and fitness. Lake Tahoe is 6,300 feet above sea level, add a few hundred feet for hiking terrain and you could be in trouble. Don’t take the difficult trail if you’re not experienced or just moderately fit. They are labelled for a reason. Don’t forget to dress properly and always take water, the high dry climate can zap the water right out of you. Lake Tahoe can have weather changes very quickly, a plan, a small camelback with a dry jacket and a power bar or three can do wonders sometimes.
Leave No Trace
We are all guests on the Lake Tahoe trails. Aside from bringing water, food and snacks, located the closest trashcans, take out what you can. Be mindful of the nature and don’t leave wrapping paper, plastic or any type of garbage behind. Keep it in your backpack and dispose once you see a garbage bin. Also, don’t leave any garbage even when it’s biodegradable like fruit, wraps, sandwiches – in addition to it potential rot and smelling, animals may find and eat something which is not recommended for them and certainly not recommended to meet them on the trail. Don’t just take our word for it, take Leave No Trace’s.
Stay On The Trail
Don’t wander off from the set trail, Lake Tahoe is a fragile and beautiful area. This particular ecosystem thrives on the exactness of plants, animals and under growth. Other than for protection of the environment, it’s important that we stay on trail for safety. Know your route and stick to it, if you’re on Granite Chief Trail, make sure you stay on Granite Chief and NOT the PCT. Make sure your routes are available offline on your phone and available for updates when necessary. AllTrails is a great app to help with planning and execution.
Be Kind To Other Hikers
There is an unwritten rule that hikers always greet each other when they pass by on the trail. After all, we are all walking the same path. Don’t hesitate to also stop and have a chat with hikers passing by, especially if you are hiking alone or have a long route, you never know what you’ll learn. A good rule of thumb is “Don’t be a jerk.” There’s no reason to not enjoy the outdoors. Look around and remember to smile when you’re on the trail. Lake Tahoe is a gem in the Sierra and deserves your smiles.
Rules Of Passing By
It is always nice to meet other hikers on the trail. Besides the ‘chatting tip’, there are some rules that are worth knowing, especially when on a narrow path. According to the hiking etiquette, downhill hikers should always let the uphill hikers pass by first, not just not to avoid interrupting their momentum but also because the hikers going up have the narrower vision as are making more effort concentrating on their immediate surroundings.
Going To The Bathroom
We are all human after all so a need to go to the bathroom will come eventually during the hike and usually, there will be no toilets around. The best practice is to move away approximately 20 feet from the trail to do your business so that you are not in the way. This of course is in case that it is possible and you don’t fall off a cliff or damage some protected vegetation. If this should be the case then just use your common sense – in line with the etiquette of leaving no trace and being respectful to other hikers.
Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Riders
Though hikers are usually used to sharing their trails with other hikers (see “Be Kind To Other Hikers”), there will be some times when the trail will be shared with mountain bikers and/or even riders. Normally, the mountain bikers should yield to hikers but, keep in mind that they are often very fast and can have some difficulties when stopping so always be aware about your surroundings. When meeting riders on horses, hikers should always move away as horses can easily be spooked or even lose their footing if the surface is granular or loose.
Don’t Be Too Loud
When hiking, it is important to be respectful to other hikers as well as nature and this also includes – sound. We get easily carried away when in a good mood, talking to friends or laughing loudly and some may even enjoy singing however, wildlife and other hikers may enjoy it a bit less. A moderate to lower volume is advised.
It is always good to have your mobile phone with you, to navigate when needed or in case of an emergency however, it is not necessary to take all the calls on your day off in nature. Keep it on silent and tune out – enjoy the conversation with your fellow hikers or even better – enjoy the silence and sounds of the nature.
Hiking With a Dog
If you are going on a hike with your bestie, be sure that you respect all the rules – unbelievable but some of the routes (and people) are not so dog-friendly as you would think. During your planning, check that the trail is allowed for dogs, keep them on the leash and don’t let them disturb any wildlife. In addition, don’t forget to clean after your friend and, needless to say, to make the hike enjoyable for them, always have water and snacks ready.
The long and the short of these rules is be polite, be respectful and above all, don’t be a jerk. As always, drop us a line if you ever have questions about hiking in the Lake Tahoe basin and remember to share these rules for hiking in Lake Tahoe. Sometimes we all need a refresher!