A trio of cross-country skiers slid almost silently across the snowy lakefront Wednesday afternoon at Camp Richardson, passing the historic structures at Tallac Historic Site and towards some of the South Shore’s most popular beaches.For much of the rest of the year, the same area is bustling, with sun worshippers of all sorts clamoring for a slice of Lake Tahoe’s renowned summer.But, on Wednesday, it was just the skiers, the howl of a coming storm and miles of Lake Tahoe stretched out toward the horizon.This solitude is one of the main draws of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, two activities that new participants will have extra incentives to try this weekend.Several groups around the Lake Tahoe Basin will offer guided snowshoe hikes, information about the area’s environment and, in Kirkwood Cross Country and Snowshoe Center’s case, free rentals and lessons to guests as part of Winter Trails Day todayThe 18th annual event involves almost 100 resorts and Nordic centers throughout the U.S. and attracts around 11,000 participants, according to organizers.Four hundred people have signed up for a sold-out event at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Resort, one of the bigger gatherings for Trails Day around the nation, said Reese Brown, Nordic program director for SnowSports Industries America.Winter Trails Day was started by snowshoe manufacturers about two decades ago to highlight snowshoeing as a sport and has grown to include cross-country skiing, Brown said.While the nationwide event welcomes people who snowboard and downhill ski, but don’t cross-country ski or snowshoe, it is really focused on attracting people who don’t participate in any outdoor winter activities, Brown said.Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are an accessible, less crowded and relatively cheap way for families and individuals to enjoy the outdoors during the coldest months, Brown said.Natural beauty and solitude are two reasons Brown said he heads out on his cross-country skis after work many days.Debbi Waldear, manager at the Kirkwood Cross Country Center, agreed.About 80 people were signed up for Kirkwood’s event as part of the trails day Thursday, and there are still openings, the longtime cross-country enthusiast said. She encouraged people to make reservations and recommended beginners take lessons before heading out to take in the sights. But the rewards are plentiful from there, Waldear said.“Personally I just like going out in the winter environment and enjoying it,” Waldear said.
Camp RichardsonGuided snowshoe hikes featuring information on wildlife habitat, forest health, water quality and historic aspects of Camp Richardson and the surrounding area will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All hikes meet at Camp Richardson adjacent to the Winter Sports Center on Highway 89. The hikes are easy to moderate and appropriate for adults and children 10 years and older.Camp Richardson is located at 1900 Jameson Beach Road. More information is available by calling 530-542-6056.Carson Pass Sno-ParkThe Eldorado Nordic Ski Patrol will be on hand 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to point people toward great winter trails and update them on safety issues before venturing out. The patrol will have information on the area, hot drinks, cookies and a warming fire. The patrol will be at both the Carson Pass Information Center and on the trails to assist visitors. No snowshoe or ski equipment will be provided.More information is available by contacting 530-647-1825 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Kirkwood Cross Country and Snowshoe CenterKirkwood Cross Country will offer mini beginning ski lessons including rental equipment and $16 trail passes for people who want to ski after the lesson. Lessons start on the hour every hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are required. Call 209-258-7248 or email email@example.com for more information. Free snow shoe demos will also be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Check in at the front desk to sign up.Tahoe Rim Trail - North LakeThe Tahoe Rim Trail Association and its partners have scheduled a free, family event including guided snowshoe hikes on themes ranging from winter ecology, to the social and economic value of wilderness, to Tahoe’s logging history for Winter Trails Day.The association will also host winter safety presentations, gear demonstrations, avalanche beacon scavenger hunts, snow science activities, snow shelter building, snowman crafting, tasty goodies and a raffle on the South Side of the Mount Rose Highway in Tahoe Meadows. The event lasts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People should bring their own snowshoes.More information is available at 775-298-0238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.