Five fun family things to do on Father's Day
Your friends at Granite Chief have put together a list of five fun family outings for Father's Day at Lake Tahoe and Truckee. We hope you'll find something your family will enjoy. If you find something here we would love to hear about your Father's Day adventure.
1. HIKE THROUGH THE ABANDONED TRAIN SNOWSHEDS UP ON DONNER SUMMIT
Tyler Delumyea's Pick
If you haven't hiked through the abandoned train snowsheds off Old Hwy 40 on Donner Summit you should; it's tons of fun, a lesson in history and a little spooky, but just a little.
Pack a lunch, load up the family car and head up Old Hwy 40 at the west end of Donner Lake. If parking is available at the turnout where you'll spot the Granite Chief sponsored outhouse, turn in and head out up the road and stay on the left hand shoulder. From the road when you come to an area that dips slightly down from the road and crosses a flat granite area that's where you want to ditch the road and head across and up toward the snowsheds and tunnels, it's not too far from where you parked. If parking is full at the turnout drive up the road and park in the Rainbow Bridge parking area and head down the road. From here the trail will head off on the right side of the road.
As you cross the granite slabs keep your eyes open for Indian pictographs dating back to more than 1400 years ago. Continuing your steady climb on the makeshift trail you'll spot the China Wall. This was a rock wall that was built by Chinese workers to support the train tracks. Once you navigate your group around the wall you be up on the flat area where the train tracks used to be and now it's time to enter the tunnels. The tunnels and snowsheds are dark, and cool. During the winter months there are usually big blocks of dripping ice on the walls but you won't find that now; but you will find lots of graffiti art so take a flashlight.
There are several tunnels to walk through when you come to where the modern tracks are in place it's time to turn around and head back. There are several openings inside the tunnels so you can look down on Donner Lake, some of these openings make for a good picnic spot.
2. CHECK OUT THE VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT OF MT. TALLAC
Herb Manning's Pick
No question the views of Lake Tahoe from the 9735' summit of Mt Tallac are spectacular. It's an all day workout but well worth it. There are several trailheads to get you to the summit. The shortest but also the steepest is from the Spring Creek Trailhead; you'll climb 3250' in 2.3 miles.
If you take the traditional Glen Alpine route coming up from the backside of Fallen Leaf Lake the climb is spread out over 5 miles. Just before the final push to the summit you'll pass by Gilmore Lake, a perfect spot for a break. Along the way you'll catch spectacular views into Desolation Wilderness. This is the route I usually take and on the descent, snow permitting, I will head down the Southeast Chute on the face. The Chute is a quickier way down but does require that you're adventurous and steady on your feet, this route down is not recommended for young kids, adventurous teens will love it.
Be sure to pack your camera and binoculars for the jaw dropping views from Lake Tahoe's best picnic spot, the summit of Mt. Tallac.
3. TAKE DAD & THE KIDS TO THE MARTIS PEAK FIRE LOOKOUT
Julie Schnoor's Pick
The fire lookout is one of the last working lookout in the basin. Though the lookout won't be man until July 1st it's still a pretty cool thing to do. You'll be able to walk around the lookout deck and let me tell you, you can see forever from up there, the views are wonderful.
Pack a lunch and bring the binoculars, maybe even toss a Tahoe wildflower book in your daypack.
To get to the Martis Peak Fire Lookout from Truckee, head up hwy 265 toward Kings Beach, just before the summit you'll come to a passing lane, when you get to the end of the passing lane keep your eyes open for an unmarked road that veres off to the left, that's your road. The turn off is about .5 miles from Brockway Summit. If the gate is closed park your car and the hike is only about a 3/4 of a mile.
4. GIVE DAD & THE KIDS A HISTORY LESSON: VISIT THE EMIGRANT TRAIL MUSEUM & HAVE A PICNIC AT THE DONNER CAMP PICNIC AREA.
Treas Manning's Pick
I don't know about you but I find the Donner Party story facinating. One of my favorite family outings is a visit to the Emigrant Trail Musuem. The museum is packed with stories, pictures, artifacts and also has a very interesting movie. You'll learn a lot about the Donner Party's ill fated trip across the Sierras. Their story and the stories of the emigrants that blazed the trails to California are some of our country's greatest tales of endurance and courage. Plan on 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the full museum tour. Admission to the museum is free but there is an $8 parking fee.
When you finish up at the Emigrant Trail Museum head 2.5 miles north on hwy 89 to the Donner Camp Picnic Area. There should be lots of wildflowers and frogs at the water's edge, you might even catch a glimspe of an eagle. But the best part is the half mile boardwalk tour with story plaques along the way.
Correction: the best part is having a picnic lunch and not having to eat your brother...or Dad.
5. HIKE UP SHIRLEY CANYON AT SQUAW VALLEY
Website admin Pick
Shirley canyon is sure to impress with its gorgeous waterfalls and boulders. The trailhead is located at the end of Squaw Peak Road, and can be moderately strenuous at times, but the effort is well worth it! With beautiful granite slabs, creeks, and waterfalls along the way you will eventually come upon Shirley lake (2.5mi).
At this point you have a decision to make, either push on to Squaw Valley's High Camp another 0.8 miles (and take a free tram ride down), or you may return down the trail the way you came. This is a great option for dad to have in case his knees don't enjoy going down hill. Plus, High Camp is a destination in itself! Learn about the history of the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics at the High Camp Olympic Museum, then take a dip in the pool if you fancy.
Please beware that there is still some snow from Shirley Lake up to High Camp, however the trail is open and useable.